- KEY FINDINGS
Based on the data review and inputs from the Sector Working Group we can provide the following preliminary conclusions:
The overall impression gained from the available evidence and focus group discussions is that the sector is rapidly changing in its nature due to the altering contextual circumstances and refugee numbers. The basic needs of vulnerable refugee populations are largely being met by the sector. It is apparent that there are gradual moves by humanitarian stakeholders to focus more on medium to long-term programmes and development strategies. This involves the creation of income generating opportunities to provide sustainable sources of income and reduce dependency. This will improve living conditions and reduce inequalities between groups. Linked to this is the need to tackle debt levels among refugees and formalise lending practices in order to avoid individuals and families falling further into poverty. A key overall need is to standardise the definition of vulnerability used across sectors.
The available data and focus group suggest that key priority groups are currently persons of concern among unregistered refugees and newcomers. However, it is very difficult for agencies to access and identify newcomers, which adds to logistic costs and means that some refugees are missed and do not receive the non-food items (NFI) package that new arrivals should. Limited data exists on the basic needs and incomes of vulnerable Lebanese and Lebanese returnees. Available data and stakeholder responses suggest these groups have become more deprived over the past three years in terms of incomes and basic needs.
The data and information reviewed shows that there should be geographical variation in the delivery of NFIs and cash assistance. Greater attention should be given to the variations in cost of living and access to markets across Lebanon. Cash assistance could be weighted for regional variations in cost of living and the price of goods and services.
Both focus group respondents and the data reviewed agree that the response requires more accurate and timely data on which to base decisions. In addition INGOs have limited technical capacities to analyse data, which has hindered effective identification and targeting of needs and the response. The need for evaluation and monitoring of NFI, basic needs and cash assistance programmes is required. This includes the standardisation of the national post-distribution monitoring (PDM), conducting a national price and market assessment as well as assessments on access and barriers to distribution points for refugee communities.
Two key issues were highlighted that may affect the future development and operation of the sector. Firstly, the likely decrease in the budget for NFIs will see a shift toward a more cash based assistance. Secondly, a sudden refugee influx as a result of the situation in Syria may overwhelm the NFI/basic needs distribution systems.