Complementary Currencies for Humanitarian Aid

Leanne Ussher*, Laura Ebert, GM (Georgina) Gomez, William O. Ruddick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


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
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Risk and Financial Management
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding: The publication of this paper was financially supported by Monneta (
en), a German not-for-profit organization, and the Development Economics Research Group at the
International Institute of Social Sciences of Erasmus University Rotterdam (
Research was funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, grant no. GFIIEG 18-11-CBS.

Research programs

  • ISS-CI
  • ISS-DE


Dive into the research topics of 'Complementary Currencies for Humanitarian Aid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this