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Report

Impact Evaluation of the Multipurpose Cash Assistance Programme

2016 — By Francesca Battistin

The Syrian crisis is currently in its sixth year, with over one million Syrians still living in Lebanon as refugees. Nearly 60% of all financial resources pledged by UN agencies and INGOs were to secure basic assistance for Syrian refugees, mainly to support them in meeting food and healthcare needs. In the context of this protracted crisis, humanitarian actors continuously face resource shortages to help affected populations meet their basic needs.

Therefore, donors look for cost-efficient yet effective solutions, and rely on the available evidence to make their funding decisions. In the Lebanese context, multipurpose cash assistance (MCA) has been used extensively to meet refugees’ basic needs, ranging from food, shelter, health and hygiene and other items, in a manner that allows refugees’ choice of spending priorities.

This study uses a quasi-experimental design called Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD) to compare indicators of the physical and material wellbeing of households that receive cash assistance versus households who do not. The RDD shares similarities to Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) and can establish the causal effect of an intervention. The key difference between RDD and RCT lays in the modality of forming the two groups to be compared.

The study compared a group of 247 recipient- and 261 non-recipient households, most of which are male-headed households (76% recipient and 77% non-recipient), with an average age of around 39 years old. Households in the two groups were found very similar, except for the fact that non-recipient households possessed a greater variety of basic household assets, had smaller size and received a lower amount of cash assistance from sources other than the LCC.