In the field of humanitarian aid, following the principles of localization ensures effective and context-sensitive responses to crises. Local humanitarian actors are the first to respond and often have access to areas that international actors do not. Present within communities before, during, and after disaster strikes, they are best placed to link immediate response efforts to longer term resilience-building, preparedness and recovery. Localization is integral to the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, where National Societies take the lead in coordinating humanitarian aid, connecting with national authorities and fellow organizations.  

The Netherlands Red Cross’ data and digital initiative, 510, partners with National Societies in improving the speed, quality and cost-effectiveness of the assistance they provide to their communities. Following a local, human-centred approach, 510 analyses the specific issues a National Society is facing, after which trainings and solutions towards these issues are co-developed together with the National Society. The collaboration between the Malagasy Red Cross Society, the French Red Cross and 510 provides a compelling example of successful localization efforts in the realm of cash assistance. 

The role of National Societies: cash assistance in Madagascar 

Despite considerable natural resources, Madagascar’s population of about 28 million people has one of the world’s highest poverty rates. Moreover, increasingly severe climate-induced events and shocks such as drought or cyclones, including Tropical Cyclone Freddy in early 2023, have hit communities with alarming levels of food shortages. In 2023, 3.9 million people in the country have faced critical food insecurity. 

Exercise as part of the Malagasy Red Cross Society’s training on data management within money transfer programs, Madagascar, July 2023. (c) Malagasy Red Cross Society 

The Malagasy Red Cross Society is uniquely positioned to assess the needs of communities affected by such crises. Its permanent and extensive presence in communities, including hard-to-reach areas, makes it a key player in the Malagasy humanitarian landscape. Utilising cash assistance for this purpose helps people to prepare, prioritize and take care of their families based on their own preferences and decisions, addressing a diverse range of needs. The successful implementation of at-scale, digital cash transfers to those in need requires robust information management processes, from data registration to post-distribution monitoring, community engagement and accountability, and project evaluation. To meet these demands, the Malagasy Red Cross Society was motivated to enhance information management capabilities and implement high-performance, cost-effective software solutions. 

Strengthening capacity for effective cash transfers 

Funded within the framework of the programmatic partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the European Union, a training was co-facilitated by the Malagasy Red Cross Society, 510 and the French Red Cross to further enhance the National Society’s capacity in cash information management, with a focus on improving data management processes for cash transfer programs and reinforcing the preparation for effective interventions. The overarching goal of this training was for participants to gain a holistic understanding and practical skills in data management, including enforcing data and digital responsibility standards, mobile data collection and cash transfers, data cleaning techniques, and dashboard development. This way, the training contributed to the further improvement of the Malagasy Red Cross’ skills for cash transfer program management. 

“The Malagasy Red Cross Society has significant experience in implementing cash transfer programmes. 510 is providing the National Society with tailor-made support to digitise these activities, laying the foundations for scaling up cash interventions across the country.” 

Clémence Loyer, Head of Delegation for the French Red Cross to the Malagasy Red Cross Society
510’s advisor for cash and voucher assistance, Fernando Suárez Jiménez, delivers session during the Malagasy Red Cross Society’s training on data management within money transfer programs, Madagascar, July 2023. (c) Malagasy Red Cross Society  

The training was tailored to the specific needs of the Malagasy Red Cross Society through a meticulous analysis of tools used in previous operations, carried out through remote collaboration between the Malagasy Red Cross Society and the French Red Cross. To ensure practical and context-sensitive training, 510 designed customized sessions based on identified needs. Theoretical content was supplemented by daily interactive learning review sessions and practical exercises simulating information management processes in the context of real-life interventions operated by the Malagasy Red Cross Society.  

A Step Towards Sustainable Impact 

“Active participation and the influence of participants’ strong pre-existing know-how secured the overall success of the training, indicating future capabilities in applying the acquired skills. Overall, the training generated positive learning evolutions among participants and they came up with ways to incorporate the new knowledge into their daily work!”

Angelina Savchuk, Cash Information Manager at 510 

The true impact on improving information management processes within the National Society will be assessed in the future, with post-training measures already in place to identify and plan the necessary support for cash transfer information management. Continued post-training support is part of the equation: in Madagascar, 510 partners with the National Society towards incorporating – and autonomously managing – the customer relationship tool EspoCRM as part of their cash services. Through regular co-development sessions, the Malagasy Red Cross Society can customize the software to their specific needs and programmatic cash assistance set-up. In essence, the Malagasy Red Cross Society’s experience showcases the tangible benefits of localization, emphasizing the value of local actors leading the way towards effective and context-specific humanitarian responses.  

As the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement strives to increase the provision of cash and voucher assistance globally, stories like these underscore the critical role of localized efforts in achieving sustainable and impactful outcomes in humanitarian aid. Herewith, 510 can provide unmatched expertise in co-curating team trainings and building human-centred curriculums in the technology sector, customised to each local context and in partnership with National Societies in-country. In short: 510 is the tech partner of choice for National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies when it comes to accelerating localization elements within the field of cash information management! 

We want to hear from you!

Are you interested in collaborating with us on similar solutions in the field of Cash and Voucher Assistance, tailored to your context? Please reach out to:  

Service Coordinator, Cash and Voucher Assistance: Angelina Savchuk