Cash transfer for basic needs support programme: 2021-2022 winter response

Key highlights - Post-distribution monitoring survey, Rural Damascus Governorate, August 2022

Boy carrying a goat


The Cash Transfer for Basic Needs Support Programme provides unconditional cash assistance to families with children in urban and peri-urban areas during wintertime. The main objective of the intervention is to support families respond to the essential needs of their children and help them cope with the growing economic hardship they experience during wintertime

This report presents the findings of the post-distribution monitoring survey, which was conducted in Rural Damascus to assess the effectiveness of UNICEF 2021/2022 cash winter response. Since the intervention was a blanket distribution of cash to all families with children, regardless of their welfare status, the survey provides unique insights about the socio-economic situation of families and the profile of urban poverty in Syria. It also provide critical evidence to strengthen the upcoming 2022/2023 winter response.

The survey confirms the relevance and effectiveness of UNICEF cash winter response. At the same time, it points out to specific areas for improvement in terms of targeting, amount and frequency of cash transfer, performance of Financial Service Provider, and redress and grievance mechanisms. Key findings include:

  • Widespread and high level of poverty among the general population: the average monthly expenditure of families was SYP 368,000 (US$147). This was 40 per cent below the amount of the Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB) required by a family to meet its basic needs. In per capita terms, it means that on average people were living with about US$ 1 per day.
  • Debt is a growing coping mechanism used by families to deal with the economic hardship: all families surveyed reported repaying debt, which represented on average 8 per cent of families’ monthly expenditure.
  • Fuel for heating is a massive burden on families’ budget during winter: on average, 10 per cent of families’ monthly expenditure was spent on fuel. This confirms the relevance of carrying out specific humanitarian winter response
  • Female-headed families are facing greater economic vulnerability than male-headed families. As a result of this finding, the programme will specifically focus on female-headed families in the upcoming winter response.
  • Most families prioritised the purchase of food and fuel for heating with the cash assistance they received. While food and fuel were a priority for most families, the findings also indicate that families have prioritised different expenses with the cash they received, including for clothes, education and health. This highlights the importance of providing families with cash and unconditional assistance rather than vouchers or in-kind assistance since families use the money based on their specific needs and requirements.
  • When compared to the average families’ monthly expenditure, the amount of the cash assistance was significant (i.e. 40% of family monthly budget). However, when compared to cumulative families’ expenditures over the course of the winter season, the amount of assistance was relatively negligible. To address this concern, in its upcoming winter response, UNICEF will  increase the frequency of the cash assistance from one-time transfer to three transfers over the course of the winter season.
  • All beneficiaries reported they received the amount of cash they were supposed to.  Only 1 per cent of families reported they had lodged a complaint. This confirms that the interventions was carried out as planned and that no fraud occurred during the cash distribution process. The effective overall implementation of the intervention was confirmed by the low level of complaints.
  • There was a high level of beneficiary satisfaction with the programme registration and the cash distribution process. There was also high level of satisfaction with the overall intervention: 75 per cent of families reported they were “very satisfied” with the intervention. Another 25 per cent reported they were “satisfied to some extent”.
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