The repatriation cash grant has helped Afghan returnees from Pakistan to meet a number of basic needs upon return. The cash grant is used for transportation costs, to buy food and address important shelter needs, thus contributing to aspects of reintegration. At the same time, poor security of tenure and quality of shelter point to the challenges of ensuring quality of shelter outcomes with the cash grant only, in the notable absence of technical and legal support, including provision of legal assistance, and advice on Housing Land and Property (HLP) rights and property law.
Only a small minority of male returnees were found to have used the repatriation cash grant as a springboard for livelihood investments. The lack of jobs was reported by virtually all interviewees as a major challenge, also driving further migration of young males back to Pakistan and elsewhere in search of jobs. Systematic engagement, support and coaching of potential returnees could be provided in the country of asylum to capture existing skills and explore promising livelihoods opportunities in return areas. Providing part of the cash grant as start-up capital (for some) could also be explored as a more effective way to ensure livelihood outcomes.
The findings also show the limits of the repatriation cash grant in addressing systemic barriers of access to education, including entrenched genderbased norms that prevent girls’ enrolment in schools and a cumbersome and expensive process that makes recognition of school certificates difficult to attain. Cash alone has not helped beneficiaries to safely return to non-conflict affected areas; many have become IDPs in a matter of weeks or months following return and in the process have been exposed to significant protection threats and sustained additional costs (e.g. transport, food, shelter), some of which have been covered with the grant. More substantial investments in communication campaigns in the country of asylum is one step that could be explored to minimize return to conflict-affected areas.
Developing a theory of change, unpacking and clearly stating programme objectives, and determining the value of the repatriation cash grant on the basis of MEB or SMEB calculations in coordination with other cash initiatives and actors in the country are all critical steps to improve the quality of monitoring, effectively measure progress towards more clearly defined objectives, and ensure transparency and communication to other stakeholders.