Syria

No one has power over me [EN/AR]

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“It is safer. Cash assistance helped me pay off my debts, and no one asked me anymore. I felt that I am independent and stronger. No one has power over me.” – IDP woman, Jarablus

Traditionally, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have received aid in the form of in-kind assistance.
Increasingly, however, cash and voucher assistance (CVA) is being used in humanitarian response to meet the diverse needs of those displaced by crisis and conflict.

Preliminary findings by the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) indicate that CVA supports gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response activities, yet humanitarian GBV programming does not comprehensively or consistently consider using CVA.1 This is a critical gap, as refugee, internally displaced, and migrant women and girls face multiple risks and incidents of GBV before, during, and after crises.

As a complement to core aspects of survivor care and case management (CM), CVA—if appropriate in the context— may strengthen individuals’ capacities to recover and enable access to services. CVA can, for example, help a GBV survivor cover the costs associated with fleeing an abusive relationship, such as rent, temporary shelter, transportation, food, and clothing. There also may be indirect pathways in which CVA could be used by survivors to reduce their exposure to GBV, such as decreasing their financial dependence on abusive partners or family members.

It is critical to not only identify the protective benefits of CVA, but also to ensure that any CVA-associated risks are mitigated during CVA delivery to GBV survivors so they can safely use CVA toward their recovery (for example, by tailoring the delivery mechanism, frequency, value, and duration of cash transfers). It is also critical to reduce recipients’ exposure to further harm and optimize CVA when integrated in GBV CM approach.

There is little to no evaluation of the longer-term impacts of this type of programming in humanitarian settings.
This and further evidence will shed light on remaining gaps in program design and lead to sustainable changes.
From June 2021 to March 2022, WRC, with research partner the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC), undertook a mixed-methods study to understand the potential of integrating CVA into comprehensive CM for GBV survivors in settings with acute humanitarian emergencies in Northwest Syria (NWS) and Colombia.

In NWS, drawing on the expertise of WRC and guidance and tools implemented by CARE Turkey, and in collaboration with local actors Ihsan Relief and Development (IRD) until October 2022 and Syria Relief and Development (SRD),2

WRC sought to examine changes among internally displaced Syrian survivors in NWS in a cash assistance and in-kind assistance-integrated GBV case management program at three months and nine months into the program.