The Rohingya refugee population living in settlements in Cox’s Bazar is dependent on international assistance. Presently, there are limits on how self-sufficient refugees can be, as they have restricted freedom of movement beyond the areas where the settlements are and also have no right to work. In addition, there is insufficient land within their settlements to support subsistence farming. As a result, many refugees are unable to access cash independently to support themselves, and many struggle for the basic necessities not already covered by humanitarian assistance. All current assistance in the form of in-kind distributions and services are free of charge. This includes, for example, food, shelter materials, household items and health services. A number of cash-for-work (CfW) schemes were designed to support and manage some of the basic services and works in the camps; however, to date they have not created sufficient income opportunities for refugees or host communities.
Likewise, our teams have confirmed that some humanitarian aid items are being sold at local markets.
This shows refugees are adopting other, and potentially harmful, coping mechanisms to generate cash for their needs that are not, or not fully, covered by current humanitarian assistance.
Negative coping strategies such as food borrowing, reduction in the number of meals and reduced consumption of preferred foods are witnessed across the entire Rohingya refugee population.
Between April and May 2018, UNHCR piloted the delivery of unconditional and unrestricted Multipurpose Cash Grants (MPGs) to cover unmet basic needs. This extended to all residents of Camp 5 and Camp 6 in the Kutupalong refugee settlement and was equivalent to approximately half of the monthly Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB) for a family of five that has been established for local host families.
After completing the delivery of the grants, UNHCR conducted the following to review the activity:
a detailed Post-Distribution Monitoring (PDM) survey; and
a lessons-learned workshop, covering the processes involved in the cash distributions.