As of 19th December, more than 867,480 Rohingya are estimated to have taken shelter in Bangladesh having fled violence and persecution in Myanmar. Since 25th August 2017 alone, an estimated 655,000 Rohingya have arrived in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh, UN agencies, International, National and Local NGOs, alongside social and religious institutions have been providing humanitarian assistance to the existing Rohingya, new arrivals and host communities impacted by the crisis. This emergency assistance includes, food and Non-Food Item (NFI) distributions, construction of temporary shelters, provision of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities and services, and access to health services alongside other life-saving activities. Given that it’s not clear how long the Rohingya population will remain in these circumstances, humanitarian actors in Cox’s Bazar are planning for short to medium term responses to address the wider needs of the refugee population and host communities that have been heavily impacted.
Given the scale and diversity of needs at the household level, among both Rohingya and local populations, Cash Based Interventions (CBIs) have the potential to make the humanitarian response to the crisis more cost-efficient while addressing a range of different needs. The Cox’s Bazar Cash Working Group has produced a discussion paper, ‘Integrating Local Markets in Humanitarian Assistance Can Strengthen the Rohingya Refugee Crisis Response’ in December 2017 outlining further the rationale for CBIs in this context, and particularly the need to explore the feasibility of Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) delivery from an early stage in the response. In Bangladesh the use of CBIs to respond to humanitarian needs, such as those caused by cyclones and flooding, is extremely common, with cash transfers often the immediate first response of many actors.
However, to date CBIs have not been widely used by humanitarian actors to respond to the needs of the Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar due to a range of factors. In order to better inform the decision-making around the feasibility of using cash transfers to deliver assistance at scale, the Cash Working Group and relevant sectors, including the Food Security Sector and Shelter Sector, have been gathering assessment information, particularly on market functionality and priority needs. However a shared understanding on the feasibility of different delivery mechanisms remained a key gap.
As part of the Cox’s Bazar Shelter Sector and Cash Working Group’s efforts to explore the feasibility of cash based interventions, a delivery mechanism mapping was conducted to document different delivery mechanism options, their feasibility, the potential for delivering cash assistance at scale through these mechanisms, and to further explore potential barriers and constraints as well as protection concerns that would need to be addressed to enable the scale-up of cash assistance as part of the humanitarian response in Cox’s Bazar.
The particularities of the situation in Cox’s Bazar, including government appetite for the use of cash transfers to deliver assistance, the status of the Rohingya population, and the scale of needs, required additional exploration specific to the context that any analysis at the national level would not provide.
This mapping was conducted from 12th to 23rd December 2017 by a ‘Cash Champion’ deployed from Catholic Relief Services (CRS) with the support of the Global Shelter Cluster and ECHO, and involved consultations with numerous stakeholders including Financial Service Providers (FSPs), agencies delivering assistance in Cox’s Bazar, agencies with operational experience delivering cash transfers elsewhere in Bangladesh, protection actors and donors as well as site visits to Kutupalong and Leda. The mapping explored the feasibility of different delivery mechanism options including mobile money transfers, other bank transfers, Over The Counter (OTC) options, pre-paid cards, smart cards, cash-in-hand delivery by agencies and third parties and e-vouchers.
The main findings of this mapping are enclosed in this report and were presented to the Cox’s Bazar Cash Working Group on 20th December 2017. This exercise attempted to map different delivery options and does not imply any preference for specific FSPs. It is recommended that the Cash Working Group update it every 3 months to account for potential new solutions/services and FSPs that may be able to offer the mentioned options.