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Cash transfers worth every penny

20 January 2022, Impact of Our Work

Helping families recover from disaster

After a crisis - like a flood, cyclone or a pandemic - people need a helping hand to get back on their feet. Thanks to our kind supporters, Save the Children provides food and household items after a disaster, but it can be hard to get the right goods door to door in a crisis.
 
We also know that families know best what they need to recover from disaster. That’s why we’re distributing cash transfers to people experiencing an emergency. Cash is fast, safe and low cost to deliver. And most importantly, it gives people in crisis dignity and the choice to buy what they need most.
 
Research shows that recipients almost always spend their money locally after a disaster, so cash transfers help the local economy bounce back too. While cash can be given via notes or vouchers, we prefer to distribute it via mobile phones. That way a family only need register with a local mobile phone agent once to be able to receive quick cash transfers from us when disaster strikes.

A cash boost in the Pacific

Save the Children is partnering with governments and local communities to support families across the Pacific with cash assistance. We’re getting Disaster READY in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea with the support of the Australian Government. And in Fiji, we’re already distributing cash to Fijian families impacted by the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. It’s the biggest cash transfer project ever delivered by a non-profit in the Pacific.

Setaita gets support  

63-year-old Setaita from Fiji has known poverty all her life, having singlehandedly raised her five daughters without any assistance. “Many people were amazed. I wanted to show others that if I could do it, anyone can do it too,” she says. However, when the pandemic came to Fiji, Setaita’s financial worries grew.
 
Setaita lives with her youngest daughter’s family and looks after two of her other grandchildren. The family struggled to make ends meet as the pandemic worsened in Rewa province. When hairdressers were closed and her son-in-law lost his job as a barber in Suva City, the family turned to other relatives for support. “When it came to my grandchildren, I needed the help because I am at a vulnerable age,” Setaita says.
 
After hearing about Save the Children’s cash project in Fiji, Setaita contacted us to explain her family’s situation. She qualified for a one-off transfer. Setaita quickly and easily received her payment via a virtual voucher sent directly to her mobile phone - a safe, secure and fast way to access cash. Setaita says the project helped improve her resilience. “Save the Children reached out to me at the perfect time and helped me top up my strength to continue making ends meet,” she says.


Setaita and her family pose for a photo in their home in Fiji.
Photo: Webmedia.

Food on the table, a roof overhead

Like 95% of households surveyed by the project, Setaita used the money to help feed her family. She also paid a carpenter to repair her roof, as well as purchasing a tin of paint to maintain her house, which she inherited from her late mother. Setaita is determined to preserve the house as much as possible to remind her of her mother, and so that she and her grandchildren can always take pride in their life no matter the circumstances.

Aside from addressing her immediate worries, Setaita says the transfer also helped her do what she loves - helping others. “I am always happy when I am able to give back to those who most need it,” she says. “I am blessed to have [Save the Children] in our lives, assisting us in those areas which I always want to take part in - especially my duties in the church, the community, as well as my family.”


Setaita is grateful for the support she received from Save the Children’s Fiji cash initiative. 
Photo: Webmedia.

Supporting Fijian families to bounce back

Seitata was one of 16,258 households that received a cash transfer from phase one of Save the Children’s cash assistance project. Given the continued economic impacts of COVID-19 across the world and in Fiji, the project has continued into 2022.

“Many people from Australia and New Zealand already know what a wonderful country Fiji is to holiday in, so they would understand that the pandemic has crippled our economy which is normally buoyed by tourism,” said Shairana Ali, CEO of Save the Children Fiji.

Save the Children has worked with a number of partners to develop a rigorous criterion that ensures that, together, we are helping close to 20% of Fiji’s entire population through this terribly difficult time.

Ian Dawes - Chief of Party of the CVA Program

Our research  shows us that cash transfers are a wise investment, with almost all households spending their payments on basic needs and around half (49%) spending it on their children’s education. Overall, 39,000 Fijian households have been supported by the project so far, with over $19.5 million distributed across 9 provinces to help families like Setaita’s make ends meet.
 
“I want to thank Save the Children,” says Setaita. “When I look at my grandchildren, I am grateful that there is an organization that looks after children and that wants to help better their lives. They are the future leaders of Fiji.”

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