Cash transfer worth every penny – Save the Children Australia

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Helping families recover from disaster

After a crisis – like a flood, cyclone or 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 getting the right goods door-to-door in a crisis can be difficult.

We also know that families know best what they need to recover from a disaster. This is why we distribute cash transfers to people in emergency situations. Cash is fast, safe and inexpensive to deliver. Most importantly, it gives people in crisis the dignity and choice to buy what they need most.

Studies show that beneficiaries almost always spend their money locally after a disaster, so cash transfers also help the local economy rebound. While money can be given via notes or vouchers, we prefer to distribute it via mobile phones. This way, a family only needs to register with a local mobile agent once to be eligible to receive fast cash transfers from us in the event of a disaster.

A financial boost in the Pacific

Save the Children partners with governments and local communities to support families across the Pacific with cash assistance. We obtain disaster loan in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea with the support of the Australian government. And in Fiji, we are already distributing cash to Fijian families affected by the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. This is the largest cash transfer project ever undertaken by a non-profit organization in the Pacific.


A Save the Children staff member, a village guide and a policeman hand over money to a person
disabled at his home during a money transfer simulation in the Solomon Islands.
Photo: Collin Leafasia/Save the Children Solomon Islands.

Setaita gets support

Setaita, 63, from Fiji, has lived in poverty all her life, having raised her five daughters on her own without any help. “A lot of 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 arrived in Fiji, Setaita’s financial worries increased.

Setaita lives with her youngest daughter’s family and takes care of two of her other grandchildren. The family struggled to make ends meet as the pandemic worsened in Rewa province. When the hairdressers closed and her son-in-law lost his job as a barber in Suva, the family turned to other relatives for help. “As for my grandchildren, I needed help because I am at a vulnerable age,” Setaita said.

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-time transfer. Setaita received her payment quickly and easily via a virtual voucher sent directly to her mobile phone – a safe, secure and fast way to access cash. Setaita says the project has helped improve her resilience. “Save the Children reached out to me at the perfect time and helped me recharge my strength to keep making ends meet,” she says.


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

Food on the table, a roof above

Like 95% of households surveyed by the project, Setaita used the cash to help feed her family. She also paid for a carpenter to repair her roof, as well as buying a can 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 be proud of their lives, no matter what.

As well as addressing her immediate concerns, Setaita says the transfer has also helped her do what she loves: helping others. “I’m always happy when I can give back to those who need it most,” she says. “I am blessed to have [Save the Children] in our lives, helping us in the areas I always want to be involved in – especially my duties in the church, the community, as well as my family.


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

Helping Fijian families bounce back

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

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

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