Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) in Emergencies - CARE

VSLA in Emergencies

The VSLA in Emergencies (VSLAiE) model combines VSLAs and cash and voucher assistance to improve humanitarian outcomes by proactively drawing on our successful VSLA model, our industry-leading approach to women-centered cash transfers and our ongoing programming in crisis-settings.

CARE’s Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) and cash and voucher assistance (CVA) model are generally understood to be among the most dignified means of assistance, particularly for women.

By combining advocacy, support for broad adoption of best practices in cash and voucher assistance, and innovations that strengthen women’s ability to respond to crises, Village Savings and Loan Associations in Emergencies (VSLAiE) will spark systemic changes in humanitarian response that will impact millions of women, girls and their families for years to come.

Background

Market-based approaches that increase women’s economic empowerment and autonomy, including VSLAs and cash assistance, have been shown to dramatically boost the ability of women and their families to prepare for, react to, and recover from crises. CARE is integrating these approaches into its humanitarian programming, while also filling critical gaps through innovation and broad contributions to the sector.

The VSLAiE initiative will expand the promotion and engagement of VSLAs in emergencies, complementing cash and voucher assistance. The combination of VSLAs plus cash and voucher assistance has the potential to immediately increase women’s involvement in household financial decision-making. The two groups also help women enhance their financial management skills through training and hands-on experience. To expand on these findings, CARE is designing and implementing pilots in crisis settings to help women drive their own recovery through cash-plus-VSLA models, while also developing a cashplusVSLA toolkit that can be widely shared.   

VSLAiE Model

To support the recovery and resilience of people in emergencies, CARE designed a VSLA in Emergencies (VSLAiE) model, comprised of three stages.

1. Preparedness

In humanitarian contexts, contingency planning and preparedness are critical steps that enable organizations to respond quickly and effectively during a crisis. Since women and girls face disproportionate burdens from crisis, including increased risk of gender-based violence and decreased access to critical health services, establishing the plans to address the specific needs and constraints of women in emergencies is a necessary first step in coordinated
humanitarian response.

2. Linking VSLA & CVA

The successful integration of VSLAs and CVA requires an assessment of the markets, gender norms, and other needs as well as deliberate identification and targeting of households. To sensitize leaders, partners, and potential partners to the benefits of VSLAs and CVA, conversations about cash transfers and the importance of saving through VSLAs to support recovery must be held with the community.

3. Short Cycle VSLAs

The traditional 12-month VSLA cycle can be shortened to meet the needs of displaced populations who are often mobile and in transition.

For more technical information on the VSLAiE model, read this brief.

VSLAiE: Combining VSLAs & Cash for Humanitarian Outcomes

The combination of VSLAs and CVA can support improved outcomes for crisis-affected populations and more efficient and effective interventions.

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Savings and Solidarity in Crisis: CARE’s VSLA in Emergencies Pilots

Globally an estimated 1.1 billion women, nearly one in three, are excluded from the formal financial system. This is particularly true in humanitarian crises. The Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) model with its focus on establishing low cost, self-administered informal financial services - with the ability to link to formal financial institutions where available - has the potential to help address this gap and lay a foundation for future economic recovery. Since 2019, CARE has been working through our VSLA in Emergencies (VSLAiE) approach to increase sectoral learning on how to successfully implement VSLAs in some of the most challenging crisis affected settings.

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