Cash one of best ways to help Solomon Islanders after a disaster

A new study on the use of cash and voucher assistance in the Solomon Islands found that it has the potential to be one of the most effective and dignified ways to support communities hit by disaster.

The in-depth research involving more than 750 participants across the country is being released today by aid agencies CARE, Live & Learn, Oxfam, Save the Children, the World Food Programme and World Vision.

This Cash Transfer Feasibility Study is part of a series of preparedness activities being rolled out in the Solomon Islands, made possible through Disaster READY, a program supported by the Australian Government and implemented through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership.

Save the Children Solomon Islands Country Director, Vanessa Zulueta said:

“We know that getting aid to some of the more remote communities in the Solomon Islands during a disaster can take weeks, and this can be exacerbated during the COVID-19 Crisis. This study shows that Cash and Voucher Assistance is one of the most effective ways to help communities survive emergencies, in a fast, safe and dignified manner.

“Providing cash transfers supports local economies and ensures that the most vulnerable community members can pay for urgent goods and services to help them get back on their feet after a disaster.”

The study, which examines community preference and market access in Guadalcanal, Western, Temotu, Malaita and Makira, found that the provision of cash and vouchers were particularly suitable to help families after a disaster.

Most of the households surveyed had access to local markets and canteens and were familiar and comfortable handling cash.

Households, canteen owners and fresh food market vendors expressed keen interest to participate in a cash and voucher assistance program, as did telecommunication providers, Solomon Post and wholesalers.

While a small number of communities revealed some difficulties in implementing a cash and voucher assistance program, as access to local markets were scarce, this highlighted the need for different response options and a verification process for each emergency situation.

Oxfam Country Director in the Solomon Islands, Dolores Devesi said:

“The Solomon Islands remains one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of both climate change and associated major events such as cyclones. This report is designed to inform and strengthen future cash and voucher assistance programming so that aid agencies, private sector donors, and government agencies are prepared to help as many people as possible.”

Eighty percent of households surveyed in the Solomon Islands reported being affected by a disaster in the last five years, according to the new research.

CARE Australia Pacific Humanitarian Capacity Coordinator, Charlie Damon said:

“Aid agencies helping out after a disaster need to understand gender roles in the particular countries and communities they’re supporting. When cash is provided without this consideration, it can increase tensions over financial decision-making in the household, increase alcohol consumption, and lead to domestic violence. But when done well, as this study outlines, cash assistance can help women to empower themselves and spark discussions about women’s roles in their homes and communities.”

World Vision Solomon Islands Disaster Risk Reduction Portfolio Manager Vatina Devesi Maebiru said:

“This study will help inform future programming decisions for disaster response in order to reach as many people as possible. By providing cash assistance, those affected by disasters can choose what exactly they need right away.”

To download a copy of the Cash Transfer Feasibility Study click here.

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