The World Food Programme (WFP) in Lebanon supports the most vulnerable Syrian refugee households with unrestricted and unconditional multi-purpose cash (MPC) assistance. Through a series of qualitative interviews, this research explores the firsthand accounts of targeted recipients, from being informed about their inclusion and learning to use the card, to withdrawing and spending their assistance.
The user journeys of MPC recipients documented here are marked by both positive and negative experiences. Naturally, recipients generally perceive their inclusion in the MPC caseload very positively. Recent changes in the process of validation that provide more flexibility are also reflected upon positively. The locations specified for validation, however, caused some confusion among recipients who were unsure about whether they could validate their identity at any Liban Post or Cash United site.
Recipients have a consistently positive view of the SMS mechanism that informs them that their ATM cards have been loaded. However, those unable to read, need alternative lines of communication to WFP that ensure vital information is received and understood. Recent changes to the validation process and instructions regarding the pandemic are examples of messages included in the loading SMS that may not have been properly understood by illiterate recipients.
Despite varying degrees of confidence in using ATMs across personas, the fear of doing something wrong when using the ATM and possibly causing delays in receiving their assistance drives them to rely on third parties. In most cases, recipients trust and rely on cooperating partner staff for support. However, training at card distributions could focus more on training recipients to become confident users of ATMs. More regular practice using ATMs without the risk of losing out on assistance can help recipients develop the confidence to use ATMs independently.
Given the unprecedented levels of vulnerability present across user journeys, the predictability of assistance is vital to ensure recipients can meet their basic needs.
Although the staggering of loading is undeniably important to avoid crowding at ATMs, changes to the loading schedule should be kept to a minimum and communicated as far in advance as possible to ensure recipients can adapt accordingly.
Finally, the user journeys underscore the need for complementary services that could support households when unexpected shocks reduce their ability to meet their basic needs. Access to medication and treatment, for example, seems to be particularly challenging for the female personas included in this research. A “Cash Plus” approach with stronger links to complementary services is recommended.
Ground Truth Solutions, in collaboration with the Cash Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Organizational Network (CAMEALEON) have published a report that looks at to the lived experiences or “journeys” of Syrian refugees in Lebanon receiving multipurpose cash assistance from the World Food Programme.
- Ground Truth Solutions
- added project to body as per case 50068