Multipurpose cash assistance: mid-year 2020 distribution monitoring report – Jordan


Jordan hosts nearly three quarters of a million refugees, most of them living outside the camps. The majority are vulnerable, unable to lead a life of dignity independently. In this context, UNHCR Jordan’s unconditional monthly essential cash assistance program is a lifeline for many. During the first half of 2020, around 33,000 vulnerable refugee families living in urban areas, and mainly but not exclusively from Syria, received monthly assistance in the form of a social cash transfer (unrelated to transfers). Covid-19 emergency cash also distributed by UNHCR in late spring 2020 and discussed in an annex to this document). Based on a telephone survey of 590 cash transfer recipients, this report presents the results of the mid-year post-distribution monitoring exercise.

The results suggest that the arrangements for distributing the monthly cash aid generally work well – more than nine in ten respondents received the aid the day they expected it and were able to collect it at an ATM near their location. of residence. A minority of respondents (less than 10%) felt in danger or risked withdrawing or spending money, with fears of theft appearing to be more important than fear of catching Covid-19. Most cash recipients would not trade the cash program for a combination of cash and in-kind support. Feedback on service delivery is generally positive and the helpline is well known.

As in previous years, and in line with the basic objective of monthly cash assistance, refugees mainly spent their allowance on rent and food. Both tend to be more expensive in Amman, compared to other governorates in the Kingdom. Compared to mid-2019, a significantly lower proportion of respondents used the cash grant to cover utility bills and pay for healthcare costs. The fact that a relatively small share of those surveyed said they spent part of their cash assistance on health expenses or hygiene items suggests that the COVID pandemic has not (yet) influenced the spending habits of people. more vulnerable. (Indeed, actors have distributed money for WASH and hygiene kits as part of the Covid-19 response.) The average amount spent on these different categories has changed little over the past year, although that the average food expenditure is slightly reduced while the average amount of cash assistance devoted to debt repayment has increased considerably (+ 48%). The needs of the beneficiary population remain high – regardless of nationality and location, most respondents say they are unable to meet more than half of their household’s basic needs. Among respondents who fall into this category, almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) indicate that they cannot afford enough food, while 27% have difficulty paying their rent. Just over half can afford appropriate shoes and clothing. Particularly worrying given the 2020 context, 31% of people questioned noted that they could not afford to pay health costs. Many (60%) of the respondents had to resort to borrowing money in the four weeks before data collection (May 2020). This debt is seen as a security issue for many.

Despite the monthly cash assistance, beneficiaries are forced to resort to various negative coping strategies. The most common coping mechanism between nationalities and governorates is to reduce spending on health or education, followed closely by purchasing food on credit, two coping strategies during the crisis. As evidenced by the increased scores in this area compared to the last round of post-distribution monitoring at the end of 2019, food-related coping strategies have become more frequent over the past six months, especially for the beneficiary cohort. Syrians.

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