In the course of my appointment as Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact that the humanitarian response can have in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people living in northeast Nigeria. Throughout this experience, I have also seen how important it is listen to communities and give people a choice over what kind of assistance they need. From my perspective, this is why cash assistance has become such a transformational way to not only ensure that essential needs are met, but also to empower the most vulnerable to become self-reliant.
The moving story of Kaka Ali Modu, an internally displaced woman and widow of seven children, is a testament to the role that cash assistance can play in uplifting the most vulnerable and creating an avenue for their self-determination and recovery. Like many women in north-east Nigeria, Kaka’s village in Goniri town, Yobe State was attacked by nonstate armed groups and her husband was killed. Kaka was forced to flee from her home along with her seven children.
When she finally arrived to safety, she did not have enough food to feed her family and one of her sons tragically died from malnourishment. Day after day she begged on the streets so her family could survive. Then, a humanitarian organization stepped in and started giving her 18,000 Naira ($50 USD) on a regular basis. She was able to feed her family and even managed to save a bit of money to start her own business making and selling groundnuts. Kaka said that the intervention changed her life and made her feel reborn again – she was even able to rent two rooms where she lives with her children, away from the harsh weather conditions in north-east Nigeria.
Kaka’s story is among many that have touched and inspired me during my various missions to remote conflict-ridden areas in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states over the past few years. Most importantly, Kaka’s testimony about how cash assistance allowed her to get back on her feet and start providing for herself and her family shows the advantage and potential of Cash Voucher Assistance (CVA). Cash assistance gives autonomy for crisis-affected people to make independent decisions, thereby enabling them to pursue livelihoods and contribute to local market activities, ultimately shifting away from a reliance on life-saving aid and towards a path of resilience and development.
More importantly, CVA provides humanitarians a cost-efficient way to effectively make the most out of limited resources to maximize the benefits for crisis-affected populations, while stimulating local economic growth and reducing the dependence on humanitarian aid. There’s a solid reasoning behind why CVA is increasingly being used in humanitarian operations around the globe, even in some of the most dangerous and volatile areas: it has proven to be effective in building bridges to the recovery phase. The success stories, testimonies and analysis documented in this report indicate that CVA is not just another means of providing humanitarian assistance but a critical game-changer in the humanitarian space with ripple effects that extend far beyond immediate, life-saving aid. The growth in the CVA modality in Nigeria, namely from nine percent of total humanitarian assistance in 2016 to over one-third of all assistance provided in 2019, points to an increased trend that is full of potential and new opportunities to deliver aid more effectively and kick-start the transition towards development. CVA is not necessarily a magic wand that can solve all the problems or a substitute for existing humanitarian interventions. However, when we review the complementarities between various forms of humanitarian assistance, cash unquestionably helps to better serve conflict-affected people and lift them out of crisis.
This report helps to review the progress that partners and sectors have made in scaling up CVA in the BAY states and the lessons and good practices that have been acquired. I am, therefore, proud to present this report as an essential step in our shared journey to improve humanitarian aid, so that limited resources yield the most significant benefits possible to reduce the suffering of the most vulnerable people in the BAY states.
Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator