Cash transfer program to support basic needs: winter 2021-2022 response


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The Basic Needs Cash Transfer Program provides unconditional cash assistance to families with children in urban and peri-urban areas during the winter. The main objective of the intervention is to help families meet the basic needs of their children and to help them cope with the increasing economic difficulties they experience during the winter.

This report presents the findings of the post-distribution monitoring survey, which was conducted in rural Damascus to assess the effectiveness of UNICEF’s cash response for winter 2021/2022. Since the intervention consisted of a general distribution of cash to all families with children, regardless of their social status, the survey provides unique information on the socio-economic situation of families and the profile of urban poverty. in Syria. It also provides essential evidence to strengthen the upcoming 2022/2023 winter response.

The survey confirms the relevance and effectiveness of UNICEF’s winter cash response. At the same time, it flags specific areas for improvement in terms of targeting, amount and frequency of cash transfers, financial service provider performance, and redress and grievance mechanisms. Key findings include:

  • Widespread and high level of poverty among the general population: the average monthly family expenditure was SYP 368,000 (USD 147). This amount was 40% less than the Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB) amount required by a family to meet their basic needs. In per capita terms, this means that, on average, people lived on around US$1 a day.
  • Debt is a coping mechanism increasingly used by families to deal with economic difficulties: all the families surveyed declared paying off a debt, which represented on average 8% of the families’ monthly expenses.
  • Fuel for heating weighs heavily on family budgets during the winter: on average, 10% of monthly family expenditure is devoted to fuel. This confirms the relevance of conducting a specific winter humanitarian response
  • Female-headed families face greater economic vulnerability than male-headed families. As a result of this discovery, the program will focus specifically on female-headed families in the upcoming winter intervention.
  • Most families prioritized buying food and heating fuel with the cash assistance they received. While food and fuel were a priority for most families, the results also indicate that families prioritized different expenses with the money they received, including clothing, education and healthcare. This highlights the importance of providing families with cash and unconditional assistance rather than vouchers or in-kind assistance since families use the cash according to their specific needs and requirements.
  • Compared to the average monthly expenditure of families, the amount of cash assistance was significant (ie 40% of the monthly family budget). However, when compared to the cumulative expenditures of families over the winter season, the amount of assistance was relatively negligible. To address this concern, in its upcoming winter response, UNICEF will increase the frequency of cash assistance from a single transfer to three transfers during the winter season.
  • All recipients reported receiving the amount of money they were supposed to receive. Only 1% of families said they had filed a complaint. This confirms that the interventions went as planned and that no fraud occurred during the cash distribution process. The effective overall implementation of the intervention was confirmed by the low level of complaints.
  • Beneficiaries were very satisfied with the program registration and the cash distribution process. Satisfaction with the overall intervention was also high: 75% of families said they were “very satisfied” with the intervention. Another 25 percent said they were “somewhat satisfied”.

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