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Cash assistance is often the most efficient, transparent, and accountable system for delivering aid to those who need it most. Give today to empower people living in fragile settings to make the investments that equip their families to thrive.


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Yara, a participant in our cash assistance program, holds her son Ramee, 2, in front of her makeshift shelter in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

© RI

Yara, a participant in our cash assistance program, holds her son Ramee, 2, in front of her makeshift shelter in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

RI

Elie Gardner/RI
Key Issues

Cash Assistance

Cash assistance is not a handout.

Over the past decade, the humanitarian community has reached the consensus that cash, as compared to in-kind aid, is often the most efficient, transparent, and accountable system for sending relief to those who need it most.

Inflation, unemployment, and widespread poverty make it difficult for people in fragile settings to afford basic goods and services. Conflict and natural disasters exacerbate these conditions. Cash assistance is proven to be one of the most effective ways to help people living in these vulnerable situations.

Instead of distributing traditional aid items when conflict or natural disasters strike, cash assistance puts power in the hands of the people we serve. It enables them to identify, prioritize, and purchase the items or services that meet their family’s most urgent needs.

Cash assistance also kick starts local markets and supply chains. Recipients purchase supplies in nearby markets, giving struggling economies a boost they wouldn’t receive from aid items shipped in bulk from far away.

How does it work?

Whether by voucher or ATM card or actual cash— there are many ways to effectively deliver cash assistance. Over the last five years, Relief International has supported cash assistance programs in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Lebanon, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

In Lebanon, $175 is loaded on a debit card each month for a minimum period of six months. Program participants can withdraw the cash from an ATM or use the card as payment at any point of service within the country. There are no conditions on how families spend the cash. Since 2015, our data has shown the most common uses of the money to be rent, food, and healthcare.

In South Sudan, cash business grants of up to $600 are awarded to individual entrepreneurs and group start-ups that participate in Relief International’s vocational training program. In the first three years of the program, grants were given in-kind as materials. Starting in 2019, the awards were given in cash. “Now that the market is fully functioning in Maban, we want to give grants as cash so that recipients have purchasing power and can support other businesses by buying local materials,” says Henry Omony, Relief International’s Food Security and Livelihoods Manager for South Sudan.

The Power of Choice

Cash assistance gives the dignity of decision-making back to the people who know what they need best.

Lebanon

Cash Assistance Helps Meet Syrian Refugees’ Most Urgent Needs

Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley shelters more than 350,000 Syrian refugees, 71% of whom live below the poverty line. Syrian refugee, Yara, who receives cash assistance from Relief International, tells her story.

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Lebanon

Cash for Education Keeps Refugees in School

Mustafa Al Sayyah, 13, was forced to abandon his education when he became a refugee. Now, he works to earn tips at a local vegetable shop in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Relief International’s Cash for Education program is working to make sure that other Syrian refugees living in Lebanon don’t have to do the same.

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South Sudan

Training Female Entrepreneurs to be Market Leaders

In 2016, a vocational training center for both refugees and the host community was set up in Bunj. Here, 25 women are being trained in food preparation and baking.

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Randa holds her son Jasem, 2, in front of her makeshift shelter in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Elie Gardner/RI

Lebanon

Cash Assistance Helps Meet Syrian Refugees’ Most Urgent Needs

Twelve-year-old Rahim Al Sayyah participates in Relief International’s Cash for Education program in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Elie Gardner/ RI.

Lebanon

Cash for Education Keeps Refugees in School

South Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI

South Sudan

Training Female Entrepreneurs to be Market Leaders

Randa holds her son Jasem, 2, in front of her makeshift shelter in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Elie Gardner/RI
Twelve-year-old Rahim Al Sayyah participates in Relief International’s Cash for Education program in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Elie Gardner/ RI.
South Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI
Randa holds her son Jasem, 2, in front of her makeshift shelter in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Elie Gardner/RI

Cash Assistance Helps Meet Syrian Refugees’ Most Urgent Needs

Twelve-year-old Rahim Al Sayyah participates in Relief International’s Cash for Education program in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Elie Gardner/ RI.

Cash for Education Keeps Refugees in School

South Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI

Training Female Entrepreneurs to be Market Leaders