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End of 2020/ 2021 South Pacific Cyclone Season Report - Cash Based Interventions in support of Pacific Emergency Response

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By Aaron Davy

In reflecting upon the 2020/ 2021 Cyclone Season, this report seeks to distil several discussion threads relating to a range of cash-based interventions as part of an emergency response. There were several aspects to the most recent cyclone season that highlighted the imperative of, or further re-prioritisation of, the cash-transfer dialogue. Technological innovation, growing access to a range of financial services, and the emergence of government social safety nets, are all creating new opportunities for post cyclone humanitarian support. CID member organisations ADRA and Oxfam Aotearoa also provided impactful and effective base-based interventions for response and recovery following TC Yasa in Fiji.

There is nothing new about cash transfers . Following the India Ocean Tsunami in December 2004 there was a lot of discussion about the suitability of cash-transfer programming, and publications (such as Oxfam International’s 2006 resource Cash-Transfer Programming in Emergencies). These guidelines were considered the first of its kind and went some way to address humanitarian agency concern at the time that cash transfers will pose security risks, create inflation, and fail to be used to meet basic needs.

The roll-out of campaigns such as the World Food Program (WFP) Donate Responsibly campaign also further centralises the role of cash-based response modalities, particularly with its ‘cash is best’. This is largely aimed at public donors outside of the Pacific, and the message has less value outside of a Palagi audience, but the utility of cash has increasingly been raised by Pacific response authorities and governments, and Pacific media. As such, the role of cash-based programming as a response might be further framed in a way that further mitigates the public misconception that personnel and goods (specifically those donated by a generous but unaware New Zealand public) are always the best option.