Spotlight Institutional Preparedness

Table of contents

Institutional preparedness (IP) is one of the five priorities within the thematic domain NSD. In line with the IFRC approach Preparedness for Effective Response (PER), the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) supports the efforts of its Sister National Societies at central and branch level to be better prepared for and respond to crisis and disasters.


The increasing frequency, scale, duration and complexity of humanitarian crises has put a spotlight and further reinforced the critical role of local actors, like the National Societies of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in disaster preparedness, response, recovery and risk reduction. There is demonstrable evidence that investing in the long-term capacity of local actors is not only cost-effective but also yields significant potential for more effective, appropriate, accountable and sustainable humanitarian action. The strengthening of capacities in the area of Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) is of particular interest and directly contributes to the Grand Bargain commitment of the IFRC to deliver 50 per cent of its humanitarian assistance through strong and accountable Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) systems by 2025.

Key cumulative data 2021

In 2021 the SRC has provided technical assistance and support capacity building of staff and volunteers in cash and voucher based operational readiness to the SisterNS in Kyrgyzstan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ethiopia.

0Sister National Societies

As many Sister National Societies were supported with Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) Preparedness.

0staff and volunteers

As many staff and volunteers were trained in Cash and Voucher Assistance Preparedness (CVAP).

Our Programme Countries

World map.The Swiss Red Cross project countries are highlighted in red. Here is the full list: Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malawi, Nepal, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria.

Results 2021

The examples represent snapshots of our work in different intervention countries and highlight some of the specific output results of the year. The impact of the different country programmes in institutional preparedness are highlighted in the Programme Domain National Society DevelopmentOpens a new window.

Cash and Voucher Assistance Preparedness (CVAP) Approach

The UN Secretary-General’s report for the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit called for Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) to become a default delivery mode for humanitarian support. Through the Grand Bargain, aid organisations, including the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, have committed to invest in new CVA delivery approaches allowing for programming at scale.

Increased response capacity through CVA preparedness

The CVA Preparedness approach constitutes a key component in building and increasing National Societies (NS) capacities to implement scalable, better quality and timely cash assistance to ensure that crisis-affected populations meet their needs in a dignified, appropriate and effective manner. It further contributes to the organizational development of the NS as it has the two-pronged objective of enhancing the NS’s technical CVA skills while concurrently strengthening operational capacity and systems (e.g., procurement and data management systems, internal and external coordination, etc.).

Systematic approach

Therefore, NS engaging in CVAP need to invest in the following five key CVAP areas and related activities to build and sustain CVA organisational capacity.

  • Leadership commitment: the NS leadership needs to actively support CVA as a response option facilitating the mainstreaming of CVA, based on a realistic understanding of the level of current and updated NS CVA capacity and the likely financial and human resource investment and time required for CVAP.

  • Processes, systems and tools: the NS’s CVA implementation is guided by up-to-date CVA Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and CVA is mainstreamed into all disaster management cycle processes, systems and tools.

  • Financial and human resources and capacities: the funding available for CVA is released in a timely manner and CVA capacity development needs of staff and volunteers are identified and addressed.

  • Community engagement and accountability, coordination and partnership: the NS keeps the needs of affected populations at the forefront of CVAP and CVA implementation. The NS CVA response is maximized through coordination with all stakeholders and partnership mechanisms.

  • Test, learn and improve: CVAP investments need to be put to the test to document progress and priority areas for further CVAP investment and to ensure CVA implementation feeds into learning.

CVA as response modality

In combination with these investments, NSs will apply the capacity through integration of CVA in their responses, when appropriate (see Spotlight on Economic Support through CVA). As a result, and over time, NSs will be able to increase the scale, quality and timeliness of their CVA in response to crises or as part of longer-term responses.

Theorie of Change in CVAP

Eine in fünf Bereiche unterteilte Tabelle. Der Inhalt der Tabelle enthält den oben genannten Text in gekürzter Form und zu Veranschaulichungszwecken.
CVAP is an ongoing development initiative to build capacity in the 5 key areas above.

Zoom in Cash Preparedness for effective Response Area 1 - Importance of Leadership commitment

Leadership Commitment is considered to be the cornerstone of Cash and Voucher Preparedness (CVAP) as the approach includes components that require strategic buy-in from the leadership of a National Society (NS). These components of strategic buy-in are linked to the NS’ vision and strategy for CVA as well as the level of financial and human resource investment that can be allocated to CVAP. Experience has shown that a NS is more likely to have a successful CVAP trajectory when there is clear and consistent leadership commitment early on in the process.

The Senior Management of the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan (RCSK), a long-term partner of the Swiss Red Cross, is very supportive and prioritizes CVA in emergency response and development programmes as the first option in comparison to other modalities. The RCSK was able to build the capacity of key staff both at the Headquarters and in all branches. Resource people and CVA focal points are available in key programming departments of the NS (such as Disaster Management, Health, and Social Development departments) and a number of volunteers and staff members all over the country are able to set up, design and run programs integrating CVA.

After going through a strategic process of investing into the build-up of this critical capacity with clear commitment and support from the leadership of the NS, RCSK is today the partner of choice for CVA in the country – both for the RCRC Movement as well as other humanitarian agencies.

Video interview with Sabina Ibraimova, Deputy Director General of the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan

Measuring progress in Cash and Voucher Assistance Preparedness (CVAP) in Kyrgyzstan

The Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan (RCSK) started a cash preparedness journey in early 2016 and developed a roadmap for the following years. Since then, the National Society (NS) has constantly invested in Cash and Voucher Assistance Preparedness to be able to increase the use of cash at scale in its response. In 2021, the RCSK was able to deliver CVA to 38,825 people in need with a total amount of 593´000 CHF.
To measure the progress made in building up and establishing this critical capacity within the organisation during the last couple of years, the RCSK conducted a self-assessment workshop in April 2021. During this workshop key challenges were revisited and a further integration of CVA tools into the RCSK’ regular activities and programs was discussed. Gaps and areas of focus were identified for the planned continuation of the process and key decisions were taken for the consolidation of the acquired capacities in the period 20212024.

Organisational capacity development in CVA

Ein Spinnennetzdiagramm mit fünf Abschnitten. Die aktuelle Punktzahl liegt unter dem Höchstwert, den eine nationale Gesellschaft erreichen kann.
Durch strategische Investitionen war der RCSK in der Lage, alle 5 Dimensionen der CVA Preparedness Matrix - ein einfaches Instrument zur Selbstbewertung - proportional zu stärken.

The most important outputs that were captured during the self-assessment are: 

  • resources were equally directed on building both theoretical and practical capacities of personnel (both staff and volunteers) 

  • constant awareness raising activities on all levels (leadership, technical staff, volunteers at HQ and branches) were realized 

  • new tools and modalities were developed, adapted and tested 

  • suitable financial service providers were assessed and contracted  

  • capacity was built up in integrating and testing digital tools for data collection 

  • key messages to be delivered during cash distributions were developed 

  • practical training on communicationwith targeted communities during identification and verification exercise 

  • additional focus was given on communication and coordination with other relevant stakeholders 

 Since the very beginning of the process, the RCSK usedan integrated approach, bringing all departments together in a so-called Cash Task Force to discuss new projects, pilots and tools to be used. This also included participation of support units like finance,procurement or law. Through this established mechanism, all units of the RCSK were aware of NS plans, objectives, and vison, and were able to provide their own feedback to ensure more effective and efficient implementation of CVAP.  

However, despite the overall positive tendencies in CVA capacity building within the RCSK, there are still areas to be improved. Special attention is to be given on communication with affected communities, information management skills and technologies, knowledge management and communication/coordination outside the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. Based on these insights collected during the self-assessment, an updated road map and plan of action for 20212024 was designed. 

Self-assessment Workshop with Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan (RCSK) in April 2021

Strengthening Regional Cash and Voucher Assistance Preparedness in Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan

Recognizing the importance of continuously investing in Cash and Voucher Assistance Preparedness (CVAP) and mainstreaming of Cash as response modality as well as building up related expertise, interested National Societies in Central Asia came together in 2021 to discuss opportunities to consolidate efforts and resources amongst them. In July 2021, technical support was offered to the National Societies of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to enhance their organizations’ cash capacities. The support offered to the four Central Asian NS builds on the cash mainstreaming experience and the practical expertise gained in previous years by the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan (RCSK), the regionally and globally available technical resources in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the CVAP expertise of the Swiss Red Cross (SRC).

Build capacity through a systematic approach

The regional initiative, led and supported by the SRC, aims to improved CVAP and operational readiness of the NS in Central Asia. The NS engage in a standard process of 2-4 years, in order to enhance their capacities and to mainstream Cash across different thematic sectors and departments of their respective organizations. By the end of 2021, the NS of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan expressed their interest to further strengthen their structures and systems to implement CVA.

Measuring progress

The upcoming process foresees to capitalize on the experiences gained by the Central Asian NSs to-date through the fast-track exercise completed in Tajikistan and through implementing various CVA-modalities during a 2-day CVA self-assessment workshop in Kazakhstan. The workshop, hosted by the Red Crescent Society of Kazakhstan in Almaty in September 2021, was attended by HQ leadership, key staff and heads of departments as well as staff of all regional representations of Red Crescent Society of Kazakhstan. The IFRC standard procedures to assess the RCSK' organizational and operational capacities in the implementation of CVA programs was used. The same tool that helped conduct similar assessment in the RCS of Kyrgyzstan earlier. This evaluation was conducted jointly by the IFRC, SRC and RCSK. The same assessment took place in Tajikistan in December 2021 and discussions are currently underway on planning and logistics for a workshop with the National Society of Uzbekistan.

The envisaged multi-annual process strives towards institutionalization of streamlined Cash procedures and enhancing the expertise of Central Asian NSs in CVA at all levels.


Institutional Preparedness and the support to increasing the response capacity of its Sister National Societies on central (HQ) and branch level remains one of the priorities for the SRC within the programmatic domain of NSD in the coming years. A particular focus will be to increase the level of readiness for Cash and Voucher Assistance of more Sister NS through systematic technical support.

Share this page