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Poland Cash Working Group Brief - Emergency Relief for Refugees Fleeing Ukraine 2022: A Temporary Rapid Cash Response for those displaced and most in need (April 11, 2022)

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Overview: Since February 24, 2022, over 4.5 million people have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries (data). The Cash Working Group in Poland, co-chaired by UNHCR and PAH, was created to facilitate coordination of a rapid Cash-Based Intervention (CBI) providing immediate emergency relief to those displaced with prioritization based on the severity of people’s needs.

This document outlines the approach and guidance recommended to date and provides an overview of the key issues related to the rational, design and implementation of the initial CBI. Adjustments can be expected as the situation evolves, more information becomes available and actors on the ground provide feedback to further strengthen the timeliness, effectiveness and efficiency over the use of MPCAs.

CWG Meeting Notes

Highlights from the CWG Meeting, April 6, 2022

The CWG meetings take place each Wednesday at 15:00 online. The following highlights the issues that were addressed on Wednesday, April 6:

• This meeting has been recorded and is available on the teams space for participants of the CWG – Poland for reference purposes.

• Sharing relevant MPCA experience during the past week, PAH highlighted some issues with the intended use of Sodexo cards. The original plan was to issue these cards to applicants and upload the Cas Transfer Value as a lump sum for a three-month period for those who met the criteria and were deemed most in need from the pool of applicants.

• Unexpectedly, however, Sodexo stated that the limit for the maximum amount per month to be uploaded per card was much lower than previously through in late February, early March with a new maximum limit of 2200 Zloty per card per month.

• This would affect the lump sum plans in addition to accommodating larger HH sizes even within the CWG recommendation of a maximum of 4 to 5 per nuclear family HH.

• PAH has adjusted its MPCA programme to issue 2 cards for large HH, upload the funds monthly over a 3-month period, and emphasize communications to ensure people do not dispose of the cards after the first month.

• With this, PAH’s MPCA pilot has been completed with the first payouts scheduled for the end of the week and lessons learned will be shared at a future CWG meeting.

• Other members have shared information on limits with other cards, Action Against Hunger highlighted that EU limits are typically 150 Euros.

• However, a card is being piloted in Romania, an UP Cohesia Card (link here in French) by AAH.

• If certain payment cards are linked to an ID, there are other possibilities that move beyond these limits, however, within the EU the name has to be spelled in Latin.

• Findings from the Romania Pilot project will hopefully be shared at a future meeting.

• Some preliminary findings from interactions with people in the field continue to indicate some issues revolving around the use of “cash assistance” with emails beginning to be received stressing the need for cash to help others once it is known that cash is available somehow.

• This stresses the need for communications to be effective in stating the purpose of Cash Based Interventions, and that the assistance is temporary, relief for humanitarian purposes, and enrollment does not guarantee final selection.

• There was some discussion on blanket coverage versus needs based, with stress on the need to communicate eligibility criteria and final selection based on severity of needs.

• IRC stated that the lessons and information over FSPs and limits is useful for informing the design of pre paid card interventions for MPCA currently in the works.

• Restrictions on card limits is tied to EU legislation and AML and KYC compliance issues.

• Sodexo cards for the payout only requires from the NGO the card number and load amount within the limit each month (personal data etc. to be retained and processed by the NG, not Sodexo).

• These transfer issues raised the theme of FSPs for the MPCA interventions in Poland and the ongoing need to collect the information from those who have already begun roll outs in terms of mapping, experience, and assessment of FSPs as well as any others who have carried this out to help inform other Cash actors.

• PCPM raised the issue of de duplication in Warsaw and the need to take various steps to reduce/avoid potential overlap.

• UNHCR stressed that they allow people to register for an appointment online to enroll in their MPCA programme in Warsw • Multiple applications and a 3 month payment scheme might, however, result in duplication, including unintentional since many refugees might apply to a number of programmes hoping to be selected by any one of them.

• UNHCR stressed that the online 5 Ws can be used to facilitate geographical targeting to help reduce overlap although it was also highlighted that people are moving and some may be able to use transport to apply in multiple locations.

• The Kobo form used for the 5 Ws and the shared folder for other documents generally works, however, several CWG participants have reported errors in using and accessing them. This has to do a lot with the volume of participants, the requests and turnover in addition to updating and reconciling access lists; if a problem persists, please contact the co-chairs.

• The CWG sharedrive materials are available here (link)

• UNHCR has shared some learnings with respect to using BLIK money transfers to beneficiaries.
Amounts had to be rounded off since ATMs cannot payout 10 zloty bills.

• Approximately 11 000 persons in Warsaw have so far been enrolled in the UNHCR programme with under 2% experiencing errors such as losing PIN numbers, or not withdrawing, as required, the whole amount at one time.

• The average HH size from the 11 000 is approximately is about 2.5 persons.

• This key learning also highlights the need to include reconciliation and error findings in assessments of FSPs in addition to potentially including geographical areas for enrollments to be included in announcements to facilitate de duplication.

• Information on the UNHCR programme in Ukrainian, English and Polish has been uploaded into the shared folder.

• A referral system has also been highlighted as a potential theme for future CWG discussions to ensure that beneficiaries receive the assistance they need and deserve.