On the money

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					70   REgULAR CONTRIBUTORS                                                                                                                   FMR32




     On the money
     Vicky Tennant and Franziska Troeger

     Can cash grants support the voluntary repatriation and                                 are context-specific and cash does not
     reintegration of refugees?                                                             necessarily entail more risks than in-
                                                                                            kind assistance. A range of distribution
     Recent years have seen a growing           some 4.4 million Afghan refugees            mechanisms can be considered,
     interest in the use of cash grants as a    have returned to Afghanistan since          including remittance companies,
     tool for humanitarian assistance and       2002 from Pakistan and Iran with            money traders, sub-contracted
     as a component of social protection        cash assistance. At the beginning of        banks and local cooperatives, as
     programmes. After major emergencies        the operation, returnees also received      well the use of new technologies
     such as the Indian Ocean tsunami and       non-food items (NFIs) but it was            such mobile phone transactions.
     the Pakistan earthquake, cash-based        found that the costs of procurement,
     interventions provided a flexible          warehousing and distribution were           Cash grants may also have a positive
     and cost-effective form of support.        prohibitive and that in any case            protection impact, and can play a
                                                returnees tended to monetise the            role in the empowerment of women,
     A three-year research project carried      items to meet their immediate needs.        provided that it is part of a broader
     out by the Humanitarian Policy Group       Accordingly, NFIs were phased               approach to promote gender equity.
     concluded in early 2007 that “a strong     out and the level of the cash grant
     body of evidence is starting to emerge     increased. It now consists of a transport   UNHCR is currently evaluating the
     to indicate that providing people with     component and a fixed amount per            impact of its cash grants of 50,000
     cash or vouchers works”.1 Cash is          person for reintegration purposes.          Burundian francs per person for
     often cheaper than in-kind assistance,                                                 Burundian returnees from refugee
     provides more choice to beneficiaries      A recent assessment confirmed that          camps in Tanzania introduced in mid-
     who are empowered to determine             the primary impact of the cash grant        2007. This marked a significant increase
     their own needs, and is likely to have a   in Afghanistan has been in providing        in assistance under the programme,
     multiplier effect owing to the injection   families with disposable income to          which has been ongoing since 2002.
     of cash into the local economy.            enable immediate reintegration costs        The evaluation should therefore
                                                to be met, with food, transport and         enable a comparative assessment in
     While highlighting that cash should        shelter coming top of the list. However,    progress towards reintegration made
     not be seen as a universal panacea,        in general it does not address longer-      by returnees returning with cash
     the study recommended that cash            term reintegration needs, nor protection    grant assistance, and those without.
     transfers need to be seen as “part of      issues. Accordingly, UNHCR has also
     the toolbox of humanitarian response,      maintained an extensive reintegration       Vicky Tennant (tennant@unhcr.
     as both a complement and in certain        programme inside Afghanistan.               org) is a Senior Policy Officer in
     circumstances, an alternative, to                                                      UNHCR’s Policy Development
     in-kind assistance”. Significantly,        Future developments                         and Evaluation Service. Franziska
     many aid agencies and donors               A workshop to review the use of             Troeger (franziskatroeger@gmail.
     have now developed operational             cash grants in UNHCR voluntary              com) is a former UNHCR intern.
     guidelines on the use of cash grants.      repatriation operations, held in Geneva
                                                                                            1. ‘Cash-based responses in emergencies’ Paul Harvey,
                                                in 2008, concluded that the use of cash     HPG Report 24, January 2007, Humanitarian Policy Group,
     Cash transfers have formed part of         grants was indicative of a considerable     Overseas Development Institute, London 2007
                                                                                            2. The report is at http://www.unhcr.org/research/
     UNHCR’s protection and assistance          shift from a standardised approach          RESEARCH/48ecb2e32.pdf
     programmes for many years,                 to demand-oriented assistance, and
     primarily in urban refugee settings        was a valuable tool for providing
     and in repatriation operations. A          beneficiaries with more control over           Witchcraft, Displacement
     recent example of the former can be        the use of assistance, and a sense of          and Human Rights Network
     seen in Syria, where cash grants are       independence and dignity.2 Participants        http://maheba.wordpress.com/
     distributed to vulnerable Iraqi refugees   nonetheless emphasised the importance
                                                                                               Following the high levels of response to
     in Damascus using an ATM system.           of a comprehensive needs assessment,
                                                                                               Jeff Crisp’s article on ‘Witchcraft and
     Cash grants have also been extensively     including a situational analysis, an
                                                                                               displacement’ in the last issue of FMR
     used since the early 1990s in UNHCR        assessment of household productive
                                                                                               (http://www.fmreview.org/FMRpdfs/
     operations supporting the voluntary        capacity and a rapid assessment
                                                                                               FMR31/74.pdf), the Policy Development
     repatriation and reintegration of          of local markets. The need to
                                                                                               and Evaluation Service in UNHCR has
     refugees. More than 900,000 Afghan         supplement cash grants with other
                                                                                               created an informal network where
     refugees returned home from Pakistan       interventions was also emphasised.
                                                                                               information about new developments,
     with cash assistance in 1990-93, as
                                                                                               research and news related to witchcraft
     did 370,000 Cambodian refugees             Measures to ensure the safety of staff
                                                                                               can be shared. If you are interested
     returning from Thailand in 1992-93         and partners involved in transporting
                                                                                               in participating please email Maria
     and 43,000 returning Guatemalan            and delivering cash also have to be
                                                                                               Riiskjaer at riiskjae@unhcr.org
     refugees in 1992-97. More recently,        put in place. However, security risks

				
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