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Humanitarian Cash and Social Protection in Yemen

28 January 2021 — By Ruta Nimkar

This report provides an overview of the humanitarian cash and social protection landscape in Yemen and presents clear recommendations on how improved collaboration and coordination between the two systems could increase overall impact.

Cash transfers in Yemen, delivered through humanitarian actors and social protection systems, offer great opportunities for beneficiary impact and alignment with donor priorities – but this potential is not fully utilized, due to lack of a common vision and strategic direction.

In the Yemen context, cash programming takes place at large scale, in a context characterised by political, security and economic complexity. The scale of the program represents an achievement – but cash programming is fragmented. Humanitarian and social protection systems do not work together, beneficiary caseloads are likely to overlap and coordination mechanisms are weak.

This weakness has three major impacts: (1) the most vulnerable may not receive appropriate support and combined program impact is not maximised, (2) the humanitarian system’s resources are used inefficiently, and (3) risks associated with cash transfers are exacerbated.
For the humanitarian and social protection systems, the larger impacts of these weaknesses are: (1) that the system, as currently stands, may face challenges to efficiently absorb large-scale funding responding to
COVID-19, (2) the response still has a significant way to go to align with global best practice on cash, and global guidelines including the Common Donor Approach to Humanitarian Cash Programming and the UN Common Cash Statement commitments, and (3) the system is not optimally placed to build nexus programming.

Significant efforts have been made to ensure that cash programming has the maximum impact on saving lives and preventing humanitarian suffering in this challenging context. The Cash and Markets Working Group (CMWG) has been strengthened with additional resources, and a new SMEB value has been introduced. OCHA is taking measures to support exchange of information about beneficiary lists. A consultant has been selected to support work on data interoperability between WFP, UNHCR and UNICEF. UNCCS agencies have developed a Yemen Action Plan with specific actions around collaborative procurements. All of these initiatives represent steps to improve efficiency– but much still remains to be done.

This is a critical moment for the HCT to shape future programming. Both social protection and humanitarian funding cycles are being renewed, and in this process, donors and implementing partners are reviewing program
effectiveness. There is a strong cash infrastructure, as well as a variety of projects that can act as building blocks for a more effective system. In order to strengthen humanitarian response in Yemen it is necessary both to take immediate steps to support more effective working.