Consultancy: Lessons Learnt on Cash Programme Adaptability in Jordan in Response to The Economic Crisis and COVID-19
The Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) is the global partnership for cash transfer programming in humanitarian aid. We are a catalyst for accelerating change in the scale and quality of cash transfer programming. We enable the collaboration necessary to develop practical solutions to collective problems in the sector. Since our founding in 2005, CaLP has been at the forefront of promoting and improving cash transfer programming across the humanitarian sector.
CaLP enables collaboration between organizations, while also supporting them to make their own progress. We do this by bringing organisations together to strengthen capacity, knowledge and commitment for cash transfer programming across the humanitarian sector. The potential of cash cannot be delivered by organisations working alone.
The CaLP secretariat comprises approximately 30 staff globally, which is made up of technical expertise, capacity building, communications and management staff. CaLP has offices in Jordan, Kenya, Senegal, Switzerland, the UK and US, in addition several staff are home based. These offices support and facilitate knowledge sharing, learning and training in multiple countries, and ensure that all voices are heard through representation in key global and regional fora.
CaLP’s members are at the heart of what we do. They will deliver the increase in scale and quality of cash and voucher assistance (CVA) programming in humanitarian response. They gain value from being part of our global partnership, both as individual organisations and collectively. Our membership comprises more than 80 organisations and individual experts. Members include NGOs, UN agencies, academia, the private sector and donors.
Context for the work
Jordan is an upper-middle-income country with a population of close to 10 million people which hosts almost 750,000 refugees of 57 nationalities, the bulk of which – over 650,000 – are from Syria. Of these, around 83 percent are urban refugees, residing outside of camps and alongside Jordanian citizens, mostly in Amman, Irbid, Mafraq, and Zarqa.
Although Jordan’s economic challenges predated the Syrian conflict, there is no doubt that the consequences of the conflict have worsened Jordan’s economic situation. Syrian refugees arrived in Jordan to an economy that was already heavily reliant on foreign investment, international aid and remittances from the diaspora. The economic and social hardships ensuing from conflict and protracted displacement have created marked vulnerabilities for both Syrians and Jordanians. A 2019 Vulnerability Assessment Framework Population study found that 78% of Syrian refugee individuals in urban areas were living below the Jordanian poverty line (USD 96 per month) along with 14.5% of the national Jordanian population.
Despite the introduction of the ‘Jordan Compact’ in 2016, there remains limited opportunity for Syrian refugees to generate sufficient income to cover their basic needs, with many still relying on low-wage casual work as a primary source of livelihoods. And, as Syrians will likely remain in Jordan for the foreseeable future, the socioeconomic pressure on the Government of Jordan (GoJ) is significant. Persistent poverty among urban refugees has led to an increase in negative coping mechanisms, including increasing debt, reduction in food consumption, withdrawing children from school in order to work to help the family or limited or no access to healthcare. By way of humanitarian response, about 86% of Syrian refugee households in non-camp settings receive some form of institutional assistance, including multipurpose cash or food vouchers, which remains crucial to their ability to meet their basic needs. Many Syrians also have expenditures that exceed their reported incomes and live in crowded conditions that exacerbate health risks.
Cash and voucher (CVA) programming currently represents a significant proportion of the humanitarian response in Jordan. Most CVA in Jordan is disbursed through UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP). WFP delivers CVA through unrestricted cash transfers, which allow recipients to withdraw assistance as cash at ATMs, as restricted food vouchers redeemable at WFP-contracted shops or both. In September 2019, WFP supported approximately 480,000 refugees through cash-based transfers. WFP provided two levels of assistance in refugee camps of JOD 23 or 15 (approximately $33 to $21) per person per month, depending on level of vulnerability. In August 2020, UNHCR’s COVID-19 Emergency Cash Assistance response continued to reach a total of 33,000 refugee families (132 989 individuals), including 3,000 non-Syrian families.
Throughout the decade-long refugee crisis, Jordan has been an incubator for many innovative strategies that have sought to address the protection and assistance needs of refugees alongside those of the host population. The GoJ has been an entrepreneurial partner in this process, along with UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and a range of donors, along with INGOs and NGOs, and these key actors have jointly piloted new approaches to support the humanitarian-development nexus. However, Jordan’s rapidly shifting policy space complicates longer-term development planning. For humanitarian cash implementers in Jordan, these changes have resulted in major operational challenges as they have had to navigate the complexities of implementing cash programs during major shifts in contextual environment. Continued flexibility and adaptability are likely to continue to be needed, both in the short- and longer-term.
Impact of COVID-19 pandemic
In spring 2020, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent strict national lockdown has had health, wellbeing and economic implications for all living in Jordan but especially for households with more fragile livelihoods, limited access to healthcare, facing crowded conditions and with sparse access to clean water and sanitation. Restricting movement and activities has helped to control the pandemic but has had serious consequences for those dependent on daily jobs – refugees and Jordanians alike and resulted in growing poverty and vulnerability. The World Bank recently changed its estimate of annual GDP growth to a forecast of a 3.5% decline for 2020 (compared to +2% in previous years).
In response to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in Jordan, cash-based assistance modalities have emerged as a particularly key intervention for supporting displacement-affected populations, especially refugee populations. Navigating the complexities of implementing cash programs during major shifts in the contextual environment is likely to be needed, both in the short- and longer-term. CaLP and DSP have consulted key actors in the field of cash assistance in Jordan, who have highlighted the relevance of collating experiences on cash assistance programs’ adaptations to the economic situation and the pandemic outbreak.
CaLP is commissioning the following research to document if, how, when and why agencies have made adaptations to cash programs, particularly in response to COVID-19 and the impact of the pandemic on movement, livelihoods, wellbeing and the economy. This research aims to support programmatic efforts in Jordan and to contribute to the learning efforts of the cash and voucher assistance (CVA) sector in Jordan. CaLP is working in partnership with the Durable Solutions Platform (DSP) the Cash Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Organisational Network (CAMEALEON) of Lebanon to conduct this research and the study is inspired by work previously undertaken in Lebanon by DSP and CAMEALEON called ‘Lessons learned on cash program adaptability in Lebanon in response to the economic crisis and COVID-19’.
The expected output is:
i. Report (max. 25 pages) to be used by the CWG/BAWG and other sector actors, including NGOs, UN agencies, and donors, capturing lessons learned for immediate thinking, and including medium-term considerations.
ii. Powerpoint presentation
iii. Participation as required in webinar or face to face meeting to launch/present results
iv. Blog for publication on CaLP site (and others as required).
v. Participation in the comparative analysis of the Jordan and Lebanon case studies
ToRs and details on how to apply are below. Deadline is 23 September 2020.