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Community Contribution

VSLAs in Emergencies: Adapting Savings Groups for Crises

Beja Turner

Globally, 339 million people need humanitarian assistance and this figure is growing due to increasing and compounding global crises. Meanwhile, the amount of assistance funding available is not keeping up, and shortfalls mean that humanitarian actors are able to reach proportionately fewer people. Therefore, the assistance we provide must be as high quality as possible, be able to shift with people’s changing needs, and, where possible, take approaches that can reduce long term vulnerability and be more sustainable. 

Since 2017, CARE has piloted and refined our VSLA in Emergencies (VSLAiE) model to address these issues. This model is owned by and administrated by participants and aims to:
- Support people living in crisis to address and recover from shocks; and
- Support people to build more resilient livelihoods. 

Historically, Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) have not been successful in conflict settings due to the instability of communities and lack of access to financial services. However, through internal collaboration with over 40 CARE country offices as well as adaptive management from learnings from a Peer Learning Group with external peers, the VSLAiE model has shown that those in conflict can save and, quite often, contribute those savings back into their communities.

When VSLAs are properly sequenced and integrated into a package of interventions to support livelihoods, they can be a powerful tool for livelihood recovery. There are also early indications that these results can sustain themselves over time, offering longer term resilience for highly vulnerable communities. Our pilot research has provided insights from conflict settings in Yemen, Syria, and Jordan. As a result of funding from USAID IDEAL, CARE has been able to return to communities in Yemen, one year after the end of the first cycle and observe the sustainability of the gains from the pilot.

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