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«Emergency Economies: The Impact of Cash Assistance in Lebanon An Impact Evaluation of the 2013-2014 Winter Cash Assistance Program for Syrian ...»

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Emergency Economies:

The Impact of Cash Assistance

in Lebanon

An Impact Evaluation of the 2013-2014 Winter Cash Assistance

Program for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

August 2014

Beirut, Lebanon

From Harm to Home | Rescue.org

Winter Cash Assistance to Syrians Refugees in Lebanon 2

Table of Contents


About the authors

Note to the Reader


Executive Summary

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the Syrian Refugee Crisis

1.2 Description of the Winterization Cash Transfer Program

1.3 Beneficiary Selection

1.4 Beneficiary Profile

2.0 Scientific Background for the Study

3.0 Impact Evaluation Design

4.0 Data Collection in April and May 2014

4.1 Household Questionnaire

4.2 Translation & Pre-testing

4.3 Stakeholder Feedback

4.4 Enumerator Recruitment & Training

4.5 Survey Implementation and Logistics

4.6 Auditors

4.7 Data Entry

4.8 Problems and Concerns

5.0 Impacts of the Winter Cash Transfer Program

5.1 Impacts on receiving households

5.2 Impacts on the economy and community

6.0 Conclusions

Appendix 1: Detailed Data Collection Protocol

A1.1 Household Questionnaire

A1.2 Translation & Pretesting

A1.3 Stakeholder Feedback

A1.4 Enumerator Recruitment & Training

A1.5 Survey Implementation and Logistics

A1.6 Auditors

A1.7 Data Entry

A1.8 Problems and Concerns


From Harm To Home | Rescue.org Winter Cash Assistance to Syrians Refugees in Lebanon (Cont’d) 3 Table of Figures Figure 1 Distribution of Syrian Persons of concern by country

Figure 2 Age distribution within beneficiary households

Figure 3. Research sites for survey

Figure 4 Demographic characteristics of treatment and control group prior to the start of the program

Figure 5 Impact on winter-related asset holdings

Figure 6 Impact on winter-related expenditure

Figure 7 Impact on expenditure for food and water

Figure 8 Impact on being able to keep warm

Figure 9 Treatment group’s labor income versus expenditure for food and water

Figure 10 Do beneficiaries consider the cash amount as sufficient?

Figure 11 Impact on debt

Figure 12 Impact on coping strategies

Figure 13 Impact on coping strategies (cont'd)

Figure 14 Impact on access to education

Figure 15 Impact on intra-household relationships

Figure 16 Impact on adult labor supply

Figure 17 Impact on vice-good spending

Figure 18 Do households prefer cash assistance or in-kind transfers?

Figure 19 Which goods do households prefer to receive in-kind?

Figure 20 Distance to shop where households buy items

Figure 21 Do households prefer cash assistance or in-kind transfers – disaggregated by distance to market

Figure 22 Multiplier effects in a comparative perspective

Figure 23 Impact on community relationships

Figure 24 Impact on community relationships (cont'd)

Figure 25 Was cash assistance a pull factor for refugees to settle in Lebanon?

From Harm To Home | Rescue.org Winter Cash Assistance to Syrians Refugees in Lebanon (Cont’d) 4 Acknowledgements The following International Rescue Committee (IRC) staff members were essential to the successful implementation of this impact evaluation, in alphabetical order: Elissar Abboud, Saeed Abdul Khalek, Jeannie Annan, Farah Ballout, Talaat Basha, Francesca Battistin, Burgen Belltawn, Christelle Farah, Collette Hogg, Kylie Holmes, Emilie Krehm, Gretchen Larsen, Joelle Makdissi, Hiba Mhanna, Hanadi Mikael, Alan Moseley, Carole Nicolas, Bryce Perry, Radha Rajkotia, Rita Saade, Tamuna Sabadze, Juliette Seban, Barri Shorey, Julia St. Thomas, Rouba Trabolsi, and Max Weihe.

The authors and IRC are thankful to Information International, for the professionalism in conducting the field-based data collection. In particular, we would like to thank Alicia Jamal, Mohammed Chemsiddine, Miguel Khoury, Hayder Harb, and Marie Rose Eid.

The following United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) colleagues have supported

the research and shared information without which the report would not have been possible:

Mohammed Al Khalidy, Mohammed Baghdadi, Jean Nicholas Beuze, Bachar Bouka, Jean-Marie Garelli, Jad Ghosn, Charles Higgins, Kerstin Karlstrom, Marc Petzoldt, Ivan Vuarambon.

In addition, the authors and IRC would like to thank the following colleagues from other organizations for the support and guidance they gave: Eli Broumat, Bron Healy-Aarons (DRC), Aimee Keith (LHIF), Isabelle Pelly (Save the Children), Haneen Sayed (WB), Inaki Saiz de Rozas Portejo (ACF), Layal Sarrouh (UNICEF), Louisa Seferis (DRC), and Alison Thomas (DRC).

The project would not have been possible without the funding from the Department for International Development (DfID) of the UK Government, which supports the IRC Cash and Livelihoods Promotion interventions in Lebanon.

–  –  –

This project received funding through DFID grant agreement number 204007-111. The research project received exemption from the Yale University Human Subjects Committee under 45 CFR 46.101(b)(2) with IRB Protocol #: 1404013714.

About the authors Christian Lehmann, Ph.D. (University of Brasilia) Dr. Lehmann is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Brasilia. He holds a PhD in Economics from the Paris School of Economics. In his PhD thesis, he studied the impacts of Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programs on the local economy and non-beneficiaries who reside in the same communities as cash transfer recipients. He was formerly a consultant to the World Bank, where he coordinated the impact evaluation (Randomized Control Trial) of a Conditional Cash Transfer program in Nigeria. Previously, he worked with the UN World Food Program (WFP) in Swaziland and Mozambique, conducting impact assessments of WFP’s drought response and school feeding programs. Currently, Dr.

Lehmann forms part of a team of researchers that studies the impact of cash transfers to poor women in Uganda on the local economy, using a Randomized Control Trial methodology.

Daniel Masterson, M.A., M.P.P. (Yale University) Daniel is a PhD student in Political Science at Yale University. Daniel worked for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Syria in 2007 and 2008.

From 2008 to 2011, he worked as the Founding Executive Director of A Plate for All, an NGO running food and nutrition programming for Iraqi refugees in Syria. He holds a BA from Bates College and a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University.

From Harm To Home | Rescue.org Winter Cash Assistance to Syrians Refugees in Lebanon (Cont’d) 5 Note to the Reader In reporting the findings of this report, the research team adheres to the reporting guidelines adopted by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (Bose 2010) and aims to assist investigators, authors, reviewers, journal editors, and future researchers in understanding the study and interpreting its results. In doing so, the Research Team emphasizes the setting and background in which the study took place, underlying theories influencing the study, the research design, a detailed discussion of the intervention protocol and a thorough discussion of the results.

This report is written for a non-academic audience and thus avoids technical jargon and discussions wherever possible. The term ‘winterization cash transfer’ is used interchangeably with ‘winter cash assistance.’ The terms are derived from the UNHCR objective to provide support to refugees to stay warm in the winter months.


The IRC is delighted to share with you the results and recommendations from our impact evaluation on the UNHCR winter cash assistance program in Lebanon. The IRC commissioned this research for three principal reasons.

First, this research aligns with an organizational commitment to using and generating evidence on the effectiveness of humanitarian interventions by measuring impact on the lives of people they are intended to help. While the use of cash has increased significantly over the past decade, 1 there is little rigorous evidence of the impact of cash assistance programs in refugee crises. To our knowledge, this is the first study to rigorously compare refugees receiving cash to those not receiving cash, which makes it possible to quantify the causal impact of the assistance.

Second, the IRC, alongside the Government of Lebanon and much of the humanitarian and development community, has responded to the continued flow of Syrian refugees across Lebanon’s borders. As a result of the Syrian refugee influx, the World Bank estimated that the Lebanese economy would incur a cost of $7.5billion.2 This influx has placed enormous strain on the host populations that have welcomed them and the municipal services that have been stretched to accommodate the increased populations. However, the IRC thought it was also important to understand if there was flipside to the perceived refugee ‘burden.’ In other words, to what extent did cash assistance have a positive impact on Lebanon’s economy?

Lastly, the IRC wanted to understand whether there were any unintended negative consequences of cash assistance. This meant addressing questions like “Does cash have inflationary effects on the economy?” and “Do recipients use cash for purchases such as alcohol or tobacco?” The IRC’s aim was to gather evidence about the influence of cash on social dynamics between refugee recipients and host community non-recipients to contribute to validating or allaying potential concerns. The Research Team also gathered greater evidence around the appropriateness of cash in emergency refugee settings.

Cash disbursements in humanitarian emergencies tripled between 2008 and 2012, peaking at $262 million in 2010.

Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2013 http://www.globalhumanitarianassistance.org/wpcontent/uploads/2013/07/GHA-Report-2013.pdf World Bank Economic and Social Impact Report. September 2013.

–  –  –

 The study found no evidence of a number of hypothesized negative consequences of cash assistance. For instance, there was no evidence of beneficiaries spending cash assistance irresponsibly or meaningfully reducing labor supply. The research did not find that cash assistance exacerbates corruption and exploitation.

–  –  –

This report is not an analysis of the program’s rollout or the cost effectiveness of cash transfers. This research identifies the impact of cash transfers on beneficiaries and communities. In terms of lessons learned, this research should be considered in concert with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) report on lessons learned from the winterization roll-out and the upcoming DFID study on the relative cost-effectiveness of cash transfer programs. These projects together contribute a wealth of evidence about how cash programs in Lebanon should be designed and implemented and what outcomes can be expected.

The report is organized in six sections. Sections One and Two provide an overview of the winterization program, the profile of beneficiaries included in the program and a review of the literature in which this study might be contextualized. Sections Three and Four detail the evaluation design and methodology. Section Five presents the results of the research and the final section provides an overview of key findings.

–  –  –

Starting in November 2013, an inter-agency winterization8 program began providing around 60 percent of all refugees from Syria (including Palestinians), Lebanese returnees, and some vulnerable Lebanese families with cash; tools for improving shelters; non-food items (NFI), such as blankets, children’s clothing, and stoves; and heating fuel. This report studies the impact of the cash transfer component.9 The cash program transferred cash to about 87,700 Syrian refugee families (in Lebanon) intended for the purchase of heating supplies.10 The goal of winterization was to help beneficiaries stay warm, dry, and healthy during the cold, wet winter months. Eligibility for the By “winterization” the humanitarian community intends the process of assisting beneficiaries in staying warm, dry, and healthy during winter months.

UNHCR operated more than half of the cash assistance. According to UNHCR’s Winterization Partner Coordination Map (December 2013) implementing and operational partners included: ACTED, AMURT, AVSI, CARE, Caritas, CISP, DRC, Handicap International, Humedica, IOCC, IOM, Makhzoumi, MEDAIR, Mercy Corps, NRC, Oxfam, Save the Children, SHEILD, SIF, Solidar Suisse, and World Vision.

All aspects of the winterization program assisted about 96,700 vulnerable families of various targeted groups (Syrians, Palestinian Refugees from Syria, Lebanese returnees and vulnerable hosts). Around 87,700 received Cash through ATM cards, checks or Liban post, while around 9,000 received fuel vouchers. In addition, 21,000 households received one-off in-kind winterization assistance.

–  –  –

program was determined by a geographic criterion (refugees residing above 500-meters altitude were eligible) as well as demographic criteria.11

The winterization cash program entitled eligible households to receive:

–  –  –

Each eligible household was notified via SMS that they were eligible to receive an ATM card at a distribution point. The head of household could pick up the card and receive a pin number.

Beneficiaries were notified by SMS message when UNHCR and implementing and operational partners transferred cash to the ATM card. Eligible households could withdraw the money at any ATM. Anyone who had the card and pin could withdraw the money.

Although UNHCR and the implementing and operational partners generally told beneficiaries that the cash assistance was intended for the purchase of heating supplies, there were no restrictions on beneficiary expenditure.13 Therefore, beneficiaries could spend received cash as they wished.

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