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Cash transfers for refugees: the economic and social effects of a programme in Jordan

The world is now experiencing the biggest refugee crisis since the second world war. Many of the countries with the highest outflow of refugees are facing ongoing conflicts that are unlikely to end anytime soon. In fact, most displacement crises are protracted, with 80% lasting ten years or more.

The majority of humanitarian aid provides only short-term isolated support to the long-term displaced. One such mechanism of support is cash transfers. While the impact of cash transfers on access to services and integration of displaced populations is understudied, evaluations have revealed their effectiveness in allowing refugees the flexibility to decide how to use money for their most urgent needs, keeping their children in school, and accessing and reducing social tensions.

In this report, we consider one specific case study – the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cash transfer in Jordan. To date, there are around 660,000 Syrians registered as refugees in Jordan, from a total of 1.4 million. Drawing on qualitative research conducted in four sites in September 2016, we assess the immediate effects of transfers on reducing barriers to accessing basic services and employment, as well as considering the long-term implications of improvements in economic and social outcomes.

As part of this project, we conducted a desk-based review of existing national social protection and humanitarian assistance programmes run by the Jordanian Government, donors and INGOs/NGOs. This mapping is included as a working paper below. Finally, the associated briefing paper outlines the study, and offers three policy implications which show how social protection can be used to support refugees.


Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Martina Ulrichs, Rebecca Holmes, Zina Nimeh and Hanna Roth

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