Lebanon’s Child Grant – 'Haddi'
Lebanon’s economic crisis has caused vulnerability to soar. UNICEF’s new child grant is providing a lifeline for vulnerable children and families. But it must become a permanent part of a new social protection system
Due to the escalating crisis in Lebanon, nearly three quarters of Lebanese people are economically vulnerable, while 90 per cent of Syrians and Palestinians are living in poverty. While anti-poverty and humanitarian cash programmes exist to catch those households living in extreme poverty, Lebanon has no social grants in place to support families raising children, people with disabilities, or the elderly. UNICEF supports the Government of Lebanon to develop its social protection system, including its first National Social Protection Strategy and calling for the introduction of a national child grant, a national disability allowance, and a social pension. Social grants support families through vulnerable periods of life and are even more essential during times of crisis.
As a result of this work, in mid-2021 UNICEF launched a national child grant, ’Haddi‘, meaning ”next to me”. In 2023, UNICEF aims to launch a new National Disability Allowance.
What we're doing
With the generous support of donors, Haddi’s scope was expanded from an initial 6-month emergency programme reaching 56,000 children in July 2021 to 130,000 children by March 2022. All children receiving priority services through UNICEF were enrolled within Haddi to receive a cash grant in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs and with the support of 40 civil society partners - meaning children at risk of child labour or child marriage, children with disabilities, children in non-formal education and children needing nutrition support.
The cash is paid monthly – at 40USD for one child in a UNICEF programme, 60USD for two children, and 80USD for three or more – all in USD and direct from UNICEF to the household. Since its launch, Haddi has provided more than $43 million in direct cash support to vulnerable Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian households.
A child grant can make a huge difference is supporting vulnerable families in raising children. Results from the mid-line evaluation show that Haddi has helped cushion the impact of the current crisis on some of the most vulnerable children by increasing household consumption and improving food security, as well as protecting them against negative coping strategies – specifically reduction of the number of meals and portion sizes – even if most households are facing declining living conditions at the face of the crisis.
Despite the persistent critical need for social assistance programmes at this current time, UNICEF is facing funding shortfalls that requires us to scale down Haddi to around 80,000 recipients as early as October 2022.
What people are saying about Haddi
“Here I am, aged 31, asking for aid for the first time in my life.” Sara, a mother of three. She explains how she plans “to use the Haddi money differently every month depending on the children’s needs.”
For Dalal, Haddi “opened a small window to a normal life”
For Dalal, Haddi “opened a small window to a normal life”. She explained how she used it buy feminine hygiene products for her three teenage girls, something she was upset at not being able to buy every month. “When I receive the cash support, I can shop for essentials and favourites. It makes my children happy – for that moment at least,” she says.
For 39-year-old Nadia, the ability to provide for her three children has continued to decline. “The regular support we’re now receiving through UNICEF is improving my children’s quality of life,” says Nadia, “but we’re still only buying basics – clothes, diapers, medicines. This is no time for luxuries.”
While it’s important for Lebanon to have a vision for the development of its national social protection system, it’s also crucial that Lebanon’s new child grant, Haddi, not only continues to provide a lifeline to families trying to raise children but becomes a permanent feature of Lebanon’s social protection landscape.