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Cash Transfer Programming for Syrian Refugees: Lessons Learned on Vulnerability, Targeting, and Protection from the Danish Refugee Council’s E-Voucher Intervention in Southern Turkey

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This report provides lessons for the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), other humanitarian organizations, and funders striving to optimize cash transfer programs (CTP) in humanitarian contexts. Through an examination of the DRC’s experience, this report provides insight into three key components of CTPs:

• Developing and executing an effective profiling questionnaire and assessment
• Creating a flexible vulnerability scoring index to target the right beneficiaries
• Addressing protection and gender-related concerns within the program

The research was conducted during the summer of 2015 by a Feinstein research embedded with the DRC in southern Turkey as part of an “action research” collaboration. The lessons in the report provide DRC (and others) clear guidelines about what worked well and how the program could be improved.

Introduction

DRC Turkey is currently implementing a two-year, DFID-funded project that aims to provide immediate support to and strengthen the coping mechanisms of vulnerable non-camp Syrian refugees in southern Turkey. The first phase of the project focused on identifying and providing monthly cash transfers (in the form of supermarket e-vouchers) to vulnerable households. DRC assessed over 9,100 households in Sanliurfa and Hatay provinces and used a scoring index to target the most vulnerable 45% for assistance.

While the project as a whole aims to have both a protection- and food security-related impact (i.e. through a reduction in households’ use of negative coping mechanisms such as child labor and limited food consumption to meet needs), the e-voucher intervention itself aimed only to improve households’ ability to meet their basic needs. It did not have any associated protection outputs beyond a target of 500 protection cases identified through household assessments being referred to other services.
This report provides a comprehensive “lessons learned” analysis of DRC’s e-voucher intervention. It first outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the profiling questionnaire, survey methods, and scoring index that were used to assess and target households for assistance, and provides recommendations for improving these aspects of future cash transfer programming (CTP). Next, it examines the protection implications of the e-voucher intervention, again providing recommendations for future programs.

The report ends with an illustration of how its recommendations will be applied in a forthcoming DRC e-voucher intervention. Findings are based on analysis of program tools and assessment data, key informant interviews with over 30 DRC staff and volunteers, and focus group discussions with 85 e-voucher beneficiaries.