Introductory Research on the Feasibility of Cash and Voucher Assistance in Rural Fiji



About this report

This report presents the findings of a study into the general feasibility of using Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) in responding to disasters in Fiji. The term “Cash and Voucher Assistance” or CVA, is used in the report in line with the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) definition, so it refers to programs where cash transfers or vouchers are provided directly to people not to the government. This study is specifically interested in CVA in the context of humanitarian assistance. This type of assistance is also referred to in other documents as Cash Based Interventions, Cash Based Assistance and Cash Transfer Programming.

The geographical nature of Fiji sees people living in both coastal and inland locations. This is characterized by access constraints and suggests that the degree to which cash is a feasible way for people to meet their needs after disasters is strongly related to where they live. For this reason, community-level data collection is structured around types of areas. During the initial stages of assessment planning, it became evident that cash was used extensively in urban and semi-urban areas to meet needs. Based on this it was decided not to carry out the second part of the assessment in these locations and rather focus on areas where there were more questions around the feasibility of cash. One consequence of this is that sites were selected based on location and with fewer Fijians of Indian descent residing in these areas, they are not represented in this part of the data collection. This is noted as a limitation of this study.

The study is part of the work of the Pacific Cash Preparedness Partnership (PCPP), a collaboration between Save the Children, Oxfam and the World Food Programme (WFP). The overall objective of the PCPP is ensuring humanitarian responses in the Pacific Island region can better meet the immediate and protracted relief and recovery needs of disaster-affected households and communities. Through this partnership, Save the Children is leading on cash preparedness work in Fiji. This study represents the first step in defining the background for a preparedness approach for CVA in Fiji.

More specifically, the study investigated the ‘feasibility’ and ‘appropriateness’ of CVA in Fiji. Feasibility refers to the extent to which it is possible to implement efficient and effective CVA without causing harm, and Appropriateness refers to the extent to which CVA is the optimum means by which needs can be met. These terms are defined as in the 2016 Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) feasibility scoping study on CVA assistance in the Pacific, which provided a starting point for understanding key issues relevant to CVA in Pacific Island countries (PICs) and included a Country Snapshot on Fiji.

While highlighting some of the key features PICs have in common, the CaLP study found the considerable differences between the PICs made “generalized conclusions on CVA feasibility impossible.” Its first of five key recommendations was to undertake countryspecific CVA research and analysis. The study also noted the need to engage with communities and disaster-affected people in order to complement information provided by senior leadership and government on acceptance and preferences of CVA.