Original Research

The influence of cash assistance on the localisation agenda in Kenya’s humanitarian sector

Pablo V. Holm-Nielsen, Peter Furu, Emmanuel Raju
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 15, No 1 | a1496 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v15i1.1496 | © 2023 Pablo Villanueva Holm-Nielsen, Peter Furu, Emmanuel Raju | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 March 2023 | Published: 21 November 2023

About the author(s)

Pablo V. Holm-Nielsen, Global Health Section and COPE – Copenhagen Center for Disaster Research, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Peter Furu, Global Health Section and COPE – Copenhagen Center for Disaster Research, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Emmanuel Raju, Global Health Section and COPE – Copenhagen Center for Disaster Research, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; and Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, African Centre for Disaster Studies, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Abstract

Cash and voucher assistance (CVA) has gained importance as a modality for humanitarian disaster response during the last decade. Research has documented its benefits and listed challenges for implementation. Simultaneously, humanitarian organisations have committed to the localisation agenda to better serve people affected by disasters through local actors. These two ongoing transformations in the humanitarian sector may support or challenge each other. The authors use Kenya as a case study to analyse how CVA influences the localisation agenda in the humanitarian sector. Semi-structured key informant interviews were conducted with national and international organisations to gain insights on how the international organisations and their local implementing partners view and experience the mutual support or potential tensions between CVA implementations and the localisation agenda. The analysis is based on seven dimensions of localisation applied to CVA in Kenya based on existing frameworks. The findings indicate that CVA can support the localisation agenda if properly managed. It provides smaller organisations an opportunity to get involved without expensive structures. International organisations need to redefine their role and withdraw from direct implementation and be willing to give up power. The local organisations benefit from forming national networks that give them a voice within the humanitarian system. These transformations rely on personal leadership and on capacity development focusing on coordination, collaboration and organisational strengthening beyond the technical skills needed for implementation.

Contribution: This study identifies how CVA and the localisation agenda affect each other in Kenya. This contributes to the understanding of the future development of the humanitarian sector.


Keywords

disaster response; cash and voucher assistance; localisation; Kenya; grand bargain; cash interventions

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