Cash-Based Approaches and Local Regional Procurement (LRP)
What are cash, vouchers, and LRP?
Cash-based approaches (cash and vouchers) and the Local and Regional Procurement (LRP) of food assistance are among the most powerful tools to battle global hunger. To date, the largest amounts of food assistance has been through the provision of food commodities sourced and shipped from the United States—the world’s largest contributor of food aid. However, cash-based approaches and LRP are viable alternatives that can provide assistance when food is available in the affected country or region, or local markets are functioning but suffer from lack of effective demand. Providing beneficiaries with cash or vouchers to purchase the foods they prefer from markets they prefer enables choice and provides dignity to program participants. Where distributions are deemed necessary, LRP programs—procuring foods from within the country or region for distribution—can offer a faster, cheaper, and more appropriate approach to providing food assistance. By ensuring access to traditional foods, cash-based and LRP programs may yield greater nutritional benefits, help private sector vendors expand businesses, and lead to more rapid and sustainable market recovery.
Prior to 2008, U.S. funding for cash-based and LRP food assistance was limited to emergency response. The LRP pilot program authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill provided U.S. partner implementers $60 million to implement LRP in both emergency and development contexts. Currently, USAID funds cash-based assistance through the Emergency Food Security Program (EFSP) through the Office of Food for Peace, which has provided more than $2.2 billion for projects distributing cash and vouchers between 2010 and 2014. The 2014 Farm Bill also authorized up to $80 million for LRP, making the 2008 pilot program permanent. The Bill also provides more flexibility for USAID to use cash assistance in administering the Food for Peace program.
CRS supports the use of cash-based and LRP for food assistance where feasible. Our experience shows that buying food locally can be faster, cheaper and safer than shipping food from the United States. CRS does not view buying locally as a panacea, and there will continue to be instances where emergency needs can only be fulfilled by shipping food from the United States.
Policy and Practice: Cost effectiveness case study of CRS programs in Niger