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Cash transfers to Syrian refugees in Lebanon: promoting social cohesion and protection?

Hero image description: The Beqaa Valley, Lebanon. Image credit:Francesca Bastagli (ODI)

In response to the growing refugee crisis caused by more than nine years of conflict in Syria, the World Food Programme (WFP) provides cash transfers to 23,000 Syrian refugee households in Lebanon. This study examines whether and, if so, in what ways, the provision of the cash transfer shapes: a) social cohesion among Syrian refugees as well as between Syrian refugees and their host communities, and b) protection outcomes among Syrian refugees.

The study builds on a growing body of literature on the protection and social cohesion effects of cash assistance, including in contexts of displacement. It draws on 270 interviews (in depth and focus group) with Syrian and Lebanese respondents in three locations in the Bekaa Valley carried out over the course of 2018-19. Drawing on respondents' experiences and perceptions of the cash transfer, the study examines the cash transfer’s reported role in influencing a) refugees’ outcomes in terms of meeting basic needs and related coping strategies e.g. borrowing, child labour, early marriage; and b) opportunities for and the nature of interactions – including examples of support and solidarity or, conversely, of tensions - in the context of the local economy and the workplace, shelter and accommodation, health and education services.

Study results were published in two reports, one specific to protection outcomes, another on social cohesion. Both reports discuss the emerging findings with respect to implications for cash assistance design and implementation.

This study was commissioned by the Cash, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Organizational Network (CAMEALEON), a network funded by a consortium of donors: European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA). CAMEALEON, which ran from December 2017 to March 2020, brought together the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam and Solidarités International, and conducted independent evaluation and research on the World Food Programme’s multi-purpose cash programme (MPC) in Lebanon. This study is part of the CAMEALEON initiative.