Cash &/or Carry

Wednesday 24.11. at 13:30-14:15
Wojciech Piotrowicz, Hanken School of Economics, HUMLOG Institute, Finland

Cash and voucher assistance in complex crises: The key logistical challenges and lessons learned

Amin Maghsoudi, Hanken School of Economics, HUMLOG Institute, Finland
Wojciech Piotrowicz, Hanken School of Economics, HUMLOG Institute, Finland

Cash and voucher assistance
Financial service providers
Local market supply
Complex crises

There is tremendous attention and growth toward delivering aid using cash and voucher assistance (CVA) in the humanitarian
setting, particularly since the Grand Bargain in 2016, and now Grand Bargain 2.0 with the focus on quality financing and localization of humanitarian assistance. A dearth of research exists addressing the shrinkage of logistics activities due to the use of CVA programs. Contrary we argue, such an assumption is true from the view of humanitarian organizations, but not correct when applying the supply chain perspective, as still, the goods need to be procured, transported, and distributed in the local market in order to fulfill the basic needs of vulnerable populations. Thus, logistics still play a key role for any kind of modalities (CVA, inkind, service support, or combination). In the case of CVA, logistics could be provided by local companies and traders. The focus of the study is thus mainly to highlight some of the critical logistics bottlenecks faced by humanitarian actors operating in such settings. The interviews complemented by the secondary data (i.e., reports and minute notes) are collected from humanitarian practitioners that have had operations in the response to the Syrian conflict. The key lessons learned are discussed as a conclusion to provide further insights to decision-makers. The research work is part of a research project funded by the Academy of Finland, focused on delivery modalities in conflict zones.

ICRC-MIT collaboration: analyzing cash and voucher assistance with supply chain modeling

Tristan Downing, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Jarrod Goentzel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Maria Besiou, Kühne Logistics University, Germany

Cash and voucher assistance
Modality selection
Private sector
Response option analysis

We develop a model of the supply chain for an essential commodity during a humanitarian crisis, and use it to analyze the impact of different humanitarian responses on both affected populations and supply chain actors. Our model was built with programming and logistics staff from the ICRC, leveraging diverse expertise to create a fuller picture of
the supply chain and market. The model is generalizable, but our current focus is on rice in Borno State, Nigeria, in the midst of
the Lake Chad Basin displacement crisis. The model incorporates the private sector supply chain alongside the humanitarian
supply chain and includes the interactions between them. The model also includes aspects such as conflict-driven displacement,
seasonal production, market information, and supply chain trust. The model draws on several secondary data sources to create a continual assessment of the supply chain without the need for additional data collection, while helping to highlight areas where
additional data would be useful.
We use the model to project outcomes for target populations under different scenarios and humanitarian response options,
incorporating in-kind assistance, cash assistance, and credit for supply chain actors. A key finding was that when cash assistance
is being provided, further humanitarian spending may be significantly more effective as credit to supply chain actors instead of
as more cash assistance. Results from the model also highlighted potential other areas for humanitarian intervention, such as
improving access to market information.

Donations for the Refugee Crises: In-kind Versus Cash Assistance

Telesilla Kotsi, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University, United States
Owen Wu, Kelley School of Business, United States
Alfonso Pedraza-Martinez, Kelley School of Business, United States

Game theory
HO-government partnership

Problem definition: Six million refugees lived in camps in 2021 due to multiple armed conflicts worldwide. Regulations often
impede refugees’ integration into host countries, and thus refugees have to seek help from humanitarian organizations (HOs).
HOs traditionally provide in-kind (e.g. food) assistance and, just recently, offer cash (monetary assistance) that refugees can spend at local retail stores. However, cash assistance can be exploited by local retailers’ market power, which challenges the HOs’ mission of helping refugees while doing no harm to host communities.
Academic/Practical Relevance: Completely informed by field research in three refugee camps in north-western Greece, we analyze the trade-off between in-kind and cash assistance from the perspective of an HO. We propose two cash assistance policies, implementable by a partnership between the HO and the local government, to curb the retailer’s market power and ensure that the refugees, the local residents, and the retailer are better off than if only in-kind assistance is provided.
Methodology: We use field research to define our research setting and support our main modeling assumptions and parameters.
Then, we use a game-theoretical model to analyze the interactions among multiple stakeholders in an ecosystem consisting of an HO, refugees, a monopolistic retailer, local residents, and government.

Results: We demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed cash assistance policies that benefit refugees and local residents while ensuring the retailer’s profitability. In particular, a price-dependent cash assistance (PDCA) policy aligns the incentives between the retailer and the HO-government partnership. This new policy for cash assistance acts as a lever for the retailer to set desirable prices, which benefit both refugees and the host community.
Managerial Implications: We provide prescriptions that can guide HOs to improve their budget allocation between in-kind and
cash assistance for refugees living in areas where market power exists. Moreover, we clearly outline the roles of HOs and the local government in a partnership for cash assistance to refugees.

Preparedness Throughout the Cash Assistance Programme Cycle

Russell Harpring, Hanken School of Economics, HUMLOG Institute, Finland


Over the past decade, cash and voucher assistance (CVA) has changed how humanitarian organizations prepare for and respond to crises. What was once a limited modality has become a core component in humanitarian responses. This integration of CVA
programming as a main-stay mode of delivering assistance has led organizations to recognize the importance of developing CVA
preparedness measures. However, preparing for CVA programming is a challenging task that requires logistical competencies, such as forecasting, planning, and procurement, as well as having adequate capacities (e.g., human resources, training, and technology). Not having these in place limits the effectiveness of CVA and hinders activities throughout the programme cycle.

The COVID-19 pandemic simultaneously demonstrated the effectiveness of CVA programming for rapid responses as well as the
need for preparedness measures and contingency planning to allow for operational flexibility. As global supply chains faced
disruptions and communities were faced with lockdowns and social distancing measures, ‘traditional’ in-kind assistance was affected and left many humanitarian organizations rushing to set up or scale up CVA programmes. This situation calls into question what the general conception of CVA preparedness is and how we can improve upon it. Thus, the purpose of this research is to understand what is meant by ‘CVA preparedness’ and explore how humanitarian organizations can improve preparatory measures to meet challenges in the present context. Specifically, the utilization of technology, information-sharing networks, and joint initiatives will be discussed in relation to their impact on preparedness for CVA programming.