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Report

World Food Programme Multipurpose Cash Assistance in Lebanon: Protection outcomes for Syrian refugees

1 June 2020 — By Fiona Samuels, Francesca Bastagli and Maria Stavropoulou with Nur Tukmani, Hiba Abbani and Georgia Plank

Conducted by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in partnership with the Cash Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Organisational Network (CAMEALEON).

In 2018 and 2019, CAMEALEON partnered with ODI to examine the role of the World Food Programme’s Multipurpose Cash Assistance Programme in Lebanon in shaping refugee protection outcomes in Lebanon, focusing on coping strategies, physical security and safety, and work related protection risks. The study presents the experience and perceptions of 270 respondents at three sites in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, drawing on in-depth interviews and focus group discussions carried out over the course of 2018 and 2019.

Key findings include:

• Syrian respondents rely on borrowing money to pay for rent, medical needs, food supplies and other household emergencies. Recipients said that MPC plays an important role in alleviating the pressures to borrow and enabling debt repayment. Compared with non-recipients and those who have been discontinued from MPC, recipient respondents consistently mentioned faring better, both in terms of repaying debts and opportunities to access credit and loans.

• MPC recipients with school-aged children consistently reported that MPC facilitates school attendance by supporting them in meeting associated costs and tackling barriers to attendance including travel costs, school supplies and clothing. In contrast, discontinued households reported having to withdraw children from school as they can no longer meet the direct and opportunity costs.

• Receipt of MPC was linked by respondents to a decrease in recurrence of early marriage.

• Physical security and safety related to intra-household relationships, tensions and violence, seem to improve in recipient households, largely as a result of reduced financial concerns. Conversely, discontinued respondents noted an increase in pressure and tensions, in some cases leading to physical violence.

• The MPC also influences intra-household decision-making and power dynamics. Recipient households commonly explained it is the woman in the household who keeps the MPC E-card and makes decisions on how the MPC is spent.

• Work patterns are primarily affected by the availability of opportunities for paid work rather than by the MPC per se. MPC enables recipients in some cases to turn down exploitative work or to work fewer hours in poor work conditions. Some female MPC recipients in paid work explained it allows them to leave workplaces where they suffer harassment.