Post Distribution Monitoring - Focus Group Discussions
Focus Group Demographics
Focus Group Discussions (FDG) were held in Mafraq governorate in November 2017 with Syrian refugees as part of UNHCR’s Post Distribution Monitoring efforts. Participants were separated into three different groups (Table 1). Fifty-five percent of the focus group participants were Syrian males and 45% were Syrian females.
Across the three FGDs, participants had one overarching concern – shelter. All participants, whether receiving cash assistance or recently cancelled from assistance, were worried about their ability to pay rent and their corresponding fear of eviction. Participants, especially those in the cash receiving group, believed that landlords had raised their rents due to the belief that UNHCR was paying their rent.
Participants from all the FGDs called for an increase in cash assistance, for winterization to be provided to all groups, including those in the waiting list, and to have UNHCR assist them in identifying job opportunities.
Cash Assistance Beneficiaries Shelter remains a primary concern for Syrian refugees receiving cash assistance. Participants reported that their main expense was rent followed by utilities and education. All of the participants stated that they fear their landlord will evict them if they don’t receive monthly rent payments. There is a widely-held belief among the participants that landlords increased the rent fees for Syrian refugees because the landlords believe that UNHCR covers their expenses (rent, food, and health care).
When asked how helpful the cash assistance was to them, the majority of participants stated that the monthly cash assistance is barely enough to cover their rent. In order to pay for their other basic needs, participants borrow money, work irregular jobs, sell household items, cut down on other expenses (education and medical care expenses), and engage in child labour. In addition to rent and utilities, participants discussed how hard it is for them to pay for medical care and transportation to schools. Transportation expenses were a concern because there is only one school for Syrians in their area and it is expensive to travel to it.
The focus group discussion was held at the beginning of the winter months and participants’ discussed the difficulty in winter to cover heating expenses as well as other basic household needs.
Participants who withdraw the assistance with ATM cards were not satisfied due to the lack of ATM machines in their area. They complained about the crowds while waiting to withdraw their cash assistance and technical issues that made them unable to withdraw their assistance.