4.3 Cash for shelter

Cash transfer can be used as an integral part of different response modalities – in other words, cash fits well with self-recovery, an NFI winterisation programme or a number of other possibilities. It can be combined with some materials, tools and fixings. It is normally conditional, with the distribution divided into a number of tranches conditional on construction reaching a certain level and standard. It is rarely sufficient to rebuild a house, relying on the family to find the shortfall.

A cash response provides the beneficiary family with choice and ‘agency’. The cash can be spent on materials or labour according to their needs and wishes. It is important that specialist knowledge on cash programming is sought if the capacity does not exist in the CO.

For more on cash, visit the CALP website:


This publication by CRS has examples of cash programming:



Vouchers are an alternative to cash often used for NFI distributions. The beneficiary is given a voucher that can be redeemed for specified items in previously identified shops. It limits choice, but provides a greater measure of control and reduces the risk of inflationary prices.

Shopping list or purchase plan

This has rarely been used in practice but may have potential if the conditions and circumstances are suitable. Each family makes a selection (a shopping list) from a previously designed list of shelter materials. CARE is then responsible for the collective purchase and delivery of the items to the family. This gives the advantage of lower prices and economic delivery through bulk purchasing. Individual families don’t have to make multiple trips to purchase materials.