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Multi Purpose Cash Assistance: 2021 Mid-Year Post Distribution Monitoring Report

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Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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Executive summary

This report presents the results from the 2021 mid-year Post-Distribution (PDM) exercise of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) multi-purpose cash assistance in Jordan. Jordan hosts over 750,000 refugees, most of whom live outside of camps (83%). As of August 2021, over 33,000 vulnerable refugee families in cities were receiving cash assistance from UNHCR to cover their most vital basic needs. The majority receive their cash through virtual accounts with iris biometric withdrawal or ATM cards, and increasingly through mobile wallets.

The results from this mid-year monitoring exercise suggest that, as intended, most respondents used the cash assistance to meet basic household needs. Rent and food remain the two most common categories of spending, although this year only 44% of the interviewed refugees reported spending their cash assistance on food, a decrease by half compared to 2020. Similarly, to 2020, only 3% of respondents used the cash to repay their debt. The percentage of households holding debt also remains constant, but the debt amount held on average increased drastically for non-Syrians, as did related concerns.

One of the main objectives of the PDM exercise is for UNHCR to assess the degree to which cash recipients rely on negative coping strategies to meet their basic needs. The results show that negative coping mechanisms remain common. The reduced Coping Strategies Index (rCSI) continues to show declining levels of food security for both Syrian and non-Syrian refugees. A reduction in spending on hygiene, health and education to meet basic needs was reported by 80% of respondents. Taking out loans remains common (70%), and over half of the interviewees skip paying rent and debt repayments in order to get by. Reported emergency level coping mechanisms such as stopping a child from going to school, begging, or sending children under 16 to work remain rare, but slightly more common than in previous rounds of reporting.

The contributions of UNHCR’s basic needs cash assistance to the living conditions and overall wellbeing of respondents are clear. Over 90% of respondents report that the cash assistance has at least slightly improved their living conditions, reduced feelings of stress and reduced the financial burden of their household.

The feedback on service delivery is generally positive. Most respondents received their assistance on time. The number of those facing difficulties cashing out the assistance increased from 20% in October 2020 to 25% in August 2021. The most common difficulty remains, like in past years, multiple attempts to scan the eye on the iris scanner. More attempts at scanning appear to be needed than last year. Despite these challenges, only 14% of respondents would prefer to receive their cash in a different way, a significant decrease from 2020 (40%) and testimony, perhaps, to increased communication on the benefits of iris authentication. UNHCR’s helpline remains widely well-known, with most respondents reporting knowing how to lodge complaints and feeling satisfied with the way they are treated by UNHCR’s and Cairo Amman Bank’s (CAB) staff.