The intensification of the crisis in Yemen since 2015 led to the suspension of the Social Welfare Fund (SWF), leaving the already vulnerable SWF beneficiaries without any social protection support. Increased food and non-food basic commodity prices, loss of assets and livelihoods, and internal displacement, have further exacerbated the situation. In response, the World Bank approved the Emergency Cash Transfer (ECT) Component under the ongoing Emergency Crisis Response Project. The ECT component is implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and delivers emergency safety net support to SWF beneficiaries. The ECT component is managed and implemented by UNICEF through a Project Management Unit (PMU), with funding and technical assistance from the World Bank/International Development Association along with co-financing from the US Department of State NEA. DFID contributed first through a World Bank Multi-Donor Trust Fund and later through parallel funding.
The ECT project uses the pre-conflict beneficiary list from SWF; and builds on the same parameters of this national institution with the aim of contributing to strengthening the national social protection system so the project can be handed over back to SWF once the conditions are right. However, the project benefited from some adjustments to the cash delivery mechanism to ensure it could be delivered amid a conflict environment. The ECT model therefore requires several interrelated processes to be conducted. These include facilitation, payment, grievances redressal and third-party monitoring, all of them transversally supported by communication and MIS-ECT tools. All beneficiaries must go through a one-time process of verification of identity against a photo ID accepted by the project and the information stored in the MIS. This verification of identity is a pre-requisite for payment which is a key risk mitigation measure to ensure the cash reaches the right beneficiary. To ensure that the ECT Project is administered and delivered in a transparent and secure manner, especially in Yemen’s current conflict environment, the execution of the ECT Project needs several administrative processes that are envisaged to be supported through several consultancy services that are procured and managed by UNICEF. These include: (i) Payment Agencies, (ii) Field Facilitation; (iii) Third Party Monitoring and (iv) Quality Implementation Support Services. The project also includes a Grievance Redressal Mechanism which is entirely managed by UNICEF.
The ECT project starts with the generation of a beneficiary list which stipulates the benefit amount per beneficiary case, calculated using a pre-defined payment formula and flags indicating specific actions to be taken by the Payment Agency as instructed by UNICEF. A Facilitation Organization initiates and maintains regular dialogue with local, formal and informal, authorities and leaders to facilitate a smooth execution of project activities, and through them reach beneficiaries with all relevant information about the project. The project has a national coverage with the flexibility to reach every beneficiary at their current location. During the cash distribution period, verified beneficiaries can go to the payment sites closer to their current location for payment, and with the payment agencies assigned to them or benefit from outreach support if they are elderly, differently abled or have any other mobility restrictions. Those with questions, complaints or in need of support, can file their grievances which are then analyzed by a dedicated team in line with detailed protocols.