Turkey + 1 more

The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN): Helping Refugees in Turkey, March 2019


What is the ESSN?

ESSN is a multi-purpose cash transfer scheme providing monthly assistance through debit cards to over one and a half million of the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey.

Those receiving assistance decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, bills, food, and medicine.

The ESSN is the largest humanitarian aid programme ever funded by the European Union. Currently worth one billion euros, it is funded under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey.

What are the objectives?

  • help vulnerable refugees to meet their basic needs;

  • Reduce or stabilize families’ use of coping strategies such as sending children to work instead of school;

  • reduce or stabilize household debt and help families regain financial control and independence;

  • enhance national crisis response capacities.

Who receives assistance?

Registered families living in Turkey under international protection or temporary protection can apply to ESSN.

ESSN selects those most in need, such as large families, the elderly, single females, singleheaded households, and people living with disabilities.

Those employed with a valid work permit or who own registered assets in Turkey are not eligible to receive assistance.

What has been achieved so far?

Since the announcement of the ESSN in September 2016, the programme has successfully scaled up nationwide and features:

  • Assistance to over 1.5 million people by March 2019, following an initial pilot in October 2016 and nationwide roll-out in November 2016.

  • Periodic top-ups introduced in August 2017 to support smaller families that do not benefit from economies of scale.

  • Monthly top-ups introduced in August 2018 to support severely disabled people who need a caretaker.

  • Premium accountability to affected populations: 2.5 million information SMSs sent; 750,000 query / complaint calls answered by the TRC call centre, 77,800 Facebook followers.

  • Synergies with the UNICEF Conditional Cash Transfers for Education (CCTE) programme.

  • Coordination with other refugee assistance programmes in various sectors (e.g. basic needs, protection, livelihoods etc.)

WFP has projected and measures how the ESSN will impact those it assists:

  • Projections suggest that poverty among beneficiaries of the ESSN will reduce under the programme from 90 to 60 percent.

  • Monitoring analysis demonstrated considerable improvement in outcomes among ESSN-assisted people. This includes improvements in food security, debt and use of coping strategies. However, with inflation rates reaching 25 percent in September 2018, progress has started to reverse. Families are still better off than before they started receiving ESSN but WFP is concerned that the current transfer value is not sufficient to meet the needs of beneficiaries and is advocating for suitable solutions.