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The Road to Recovery Cash Transfers as an Emergency Response to Nepal’s Earthquake of 2015 and a Catalyst for Consolidating Nepal’s Social Protection Floor

2015 — By Amjad Rabi, Gabriele Koehler, Gaspar Fajth, Abdul Alim, Thakur Dhakal, Antony Spalton

On 27 May, the Nepal Ministry of Finance issued a decision: “Approval of top up cash transfer for early recovery for vulnerable population affected by the Earthquake”. This marks the beginning of a crucial intervention.

Proposed interventions:

This paper outlines a proposal to address the economic impact of the two earthquakes experienced in Nepal in April and May 2015 and possible further natural disasters connected to the earthquakes. It makes the case for two interventions in 2015:

– An immediate top up, in the 11 earthquake-affected districts, to existing cash transfer programs provided by the Government of Nepal (GoN) for senior citizens, widows and single women, Dalit children, and people living with disability. The top up is proposed to be disbursed in two instalments, in June and September 2015. The cost for the 2 instalments is calculated at approximately $US 16 million, and would need to be funded from donor funding or other special provisions.

– A universal child grant to all children under-5 in the same districts. This could be introduced as early as September 2015. The cost is calculated to range between at $US 555 thousand and US$ 1.4 million, depending on the benefit amount introduced. The costs are a very modest share of the overall amount calculated in the OCHA consolidated appeal of April 2015.

These two interventions would be based on Nepal’s existing government-funded social protection system. The proposed universal child grant, geographically targeted to the earthquake effected districts, would gradually be merged into the Social Protection Framework that is under preparation by the GoN. The disbursement of the cash transfer emergency top ups will be accompanied by behavioural change messages that can contribute to reducing the household’s vulnerability to disaster. These messages will be targeted both to specific vulnerable groups and to specific sectors, and linked to relief and recovery outcomes. The interventions would be closely monitored and evaluated, with a complaints mechanism and scope for immediate adjustments.