In an emergency situation, the focus of the finance department should be to provide cash/cash equivalents and other financial resources faster than usual to allow smooth programme implementation when and where needed. Responding effectively in a fast-paced emergency environment involves increased risk due to the flexibility required to quickly become operational on the ground. For example, staff may need to hand-carry cash to project sites, which may pose both personal and financial risks. All these elements indicate that CARE staff should be aware of this elevated level of risk, and take the required precautions to protect the life of staff members and minimise the risk to CARE’s assets.
It is acknowledged that while this greater flexibility in the use of cash should allow staff to carry out project activities faster than usual, it is equally important to be able to account for it. Under any operating scenario, the basic principles of accountability and cost-effectiveness will require emergency managers to demonstrate how CARE assets have been utilised. This involves producing the required documentation for all items of expenditure (receipts and/or statements that indicate why obtaining the receipts was not possible) and to demonstrate that the expenses incurred were reasonable to achieve programme objectives.
The term ‘cash/cash equivalent’ encompasses physical cash as well as cheques and other cash-equivalent documents. This distinction is made because, at many emergency operations, there may not be banking facilities in operation and only cash payments are acceptable. Where banking facilities are available and operational, the use of cash to conduct daily operations must be discouraged and kept to a minimum.
The following guidelines are designed to orientate CARE staff in basic cash/cash equivalent control and management procedures that apply during emergency operations. These minimum requirements should also help to achieve a reasonable level of control while supporting effective programme delivery.