Evaluation of Oxfam GB's Cash for Rent Programme in Lebanon
1. Executive Summary
In March 2013 the DEC launched an appeal to respond to the humanitarian crisis caused by the deepening civil war in Syria. Oxfam GB was allocated a total of £1,189,797 of the £12 million raised, of which it apportioned £237,951 to assisting Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Within a context of cautious donor engagement, these much-needed funds enabled Oxfam GB to begin a cash-for-rent project. Oxfam and its new local partner, Jadawel Al Kheir (JAK), provided cash transfers of $US150 for two consecutive months to 780 vulnerable refugee families residing in El Khoura, Qalamoun and Tripoli in Northern Lebanon. Oxfam GB also used the funds to set up monitoring, evaluation and accountability systems for its planned programme.
This evaluation found that Oxfam delivered a highly relevant project that achieved its primary objective in terms of significantly contributing to meeting the cash-for-rent needs of vulnerable Syrian refugee households for two months. It also confirmed that Oxfam was able to reach almost double the initial target number of beneficiary households (420) by focusing DEC-funding solely on cash-for rent and using funding from additional sources for other types of assistance.
The project drew on institutional learning from previous cash transfer projects, mainly as a result of the deployment of experienced staff from Oxfam GB’s global pool. It demonstrated adherence to Sphere core standards and technical standards for cash transfer programming, although it is likely that most of the accommodation paid for with the cash did not meet Sphere standards for shelter. This contextual challenge offers Oxfam and other organisations potential learning for future cash transfer programming and shelter interventions.
Oxfam GB provided strong and continuous support to its new partner, Jadawel Al Kheir (JAK), to establish adequate logistics and financial management procedures for the project. It also worked closely with Western Union to ensure the cash transfer process was cost-effective and user-friendly.
This evaluation identified some weaknesses in the project’s monitoring system. Although post-distribution monitoring (PDM) surveys enabled Oxfam GB to monitor the effectiveness of the cash transfer process and usage of the cash, they did not track the quality of the accommodation nor enable Oxfam GB to understand the impact of its support on beneficiaries’ longer-term shelter prospects and income-security. Furthermore, the survey content and interpretation did not provide any insights into the gendered impacts of the project.
This evaluation also found areas for improvement in the accountability arrangements for the project.
Although Oxfam GB effectively involved potential beneficiaries in the project design process and provided timely and appropriate information about procedures for cash distributions, it did not establish a robust, verifiable system to address their concerns and complaints during the project’s implementation.
Oxfam GB has already taken action to implement the majority of the recommendations that resulted from this evaluation. It is also continuing to scale up its programme, which has (to date) provided humanitarian assistance and protection to over 80,000 Syrian refugees in Northern Lebanon.