Complementary Currencies for Humanitarian Aid

Leanne Ussher*, Laura Ebert, Georgina M. Gómez, William O. Ruddick

*Corresponding author for this work

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    The humanitarian sector has gone through a major shift toward injection of cash into vulnerable communities as its core modality. On this trajectory toward direct currency injection, something new has happened: namely the empowerment of communities to create their own local currencies, a tool known as Complementary Currency systems. This study mobilizes the concepts of endogenous regional development, import substitution and local market linkages as elaborated by Albert Hirschman and Jane Jacobs, to analyze the impact of a group of Complementary Currencies instituted by Grassroots Economics Foundation and the Red Cross in Kenya. The paper discusses humanitarian Cash and Voucher Assistance programs and compares them to a Complementary Currency system using Grassroots Economics as a case study. Transaction histories recorded on a blockchain and network visualizations show the ability of these Complementary Currencies to create diverse production capacity, dense local supply chains, and data for measuring the impact of humanitarian currency transfers. Since Complementary Currency systems prioritize both cooperation and localization, the paper argues that Complementary Currencies should become one of the tools in the Cash and Voucher Assistance toolbox.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number557
    JournalJournal of Risk and Financial Management
    Issue number11
    Number of pages30
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2021


    • Complementary currency
    • Humanitarian aid
    • Cash transfers
    • Red Cross
    • Backward linkages
    • Blockchain
    • Cryptocurrency
    • Kenya

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