The government is focusing on cash assistance for the world’s poor

Monday, 13 August 2018

People in need should rather get money to trade than a sack of rice, the government believes. Cash assistance is one of the initiatives in the government’s humanitarian strategy.

Cash, cash cards and mobile payments have been given a separate chapter in the strategy presented by Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H) in Arendal Monday. Cash is more cost-effective and reduces the risk of corruption and default, according to the strategy.

“Increased use of cash also helps to bring back crisis-minded people by strengthening their finances and enabling them to prioritize their own needs,” the government writes.

Where food distribution has been criticized for destroying local markets, money transfers can help support the local economy.

– A significant reform

Several relief agencies have for the long time started giving people in crisis money in one form or another so that they can handle what they need on the market or in local stores.

– Cash-based assistance is one of the most significant reforms in recent years, the refugee auxiliary secretary Jan Egeland writes in the preface to a report on cash support that was presented in February this year.

It is stated here that cash support represented 10 percent of emergency aid in 2016, an increase of 2.5 percent from the previous year. But it is also pointed out that it is a challenge for the organizations, who have to change the way they work.

The government will be a driving force for promoting increased use and better coordination of cash-based assistance, it is stated in the strategy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will now ask the organizations they cooperate to use cash where it is most appropriate.

Quick and effective help

The humanitarian strategy points out which areas the government will prioritize in the period 2019-2023.

“Norway should be a driving force for rapid and effective humanitarian efforts. In Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and many other conflict-affected countries, people are exposed to violence and abuse, and relief workers are denied access. The government will especially prioritize the protection of children and young people, combating sexual and gender-based violence and the protection of civilians against mines and other explosives, “says Søreide.

The strategy points out that Norway is working to get the presidency of the mining convention in 2019.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announces that it will collaborate with Innovation Norway to establish a humanitarian innovation program. In addition, the ministry will enter into more partnerships with Norwegian organizations and perhaps also multi-year agreements with international organizations that will receive free funds.

As of this year, the government has signed an agreement with the United Nations Emergency Aid Fund, which will receive NOK 420 million annually over four years. The purpose of such agreements is to give organizations greater predictability and help organizations react quickly when crises arise.

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