A promise of tomorrow: the effects of UNHCR and UNICEF cash assistance on Syrian refugees in Jordan

Research reports and studies
November 2017
Bassam Abu Hamad, Nicola Jones, Fiona Samuels, Ingrid Gercama, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Georgia Plank, Aida Essaid, Said Ebbini, Kifah Bani Odeh, Deya’eddin Bazadough, Hala Abu Taleb, Hadeel Al Amayreh, Jude Sadji

The more than 658,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan face a highly uncertain future. They cannot go home, given the ongoing conflict and insecurity in Syria; many of the most vulnerable struggle to find suitable employment that would enable them to support themselves and their families while in Jordan; around 80% reside outside of the camps amongst the host community; and the United Nations (UN) cash assistance programmes that enabled them to make ends meet are increasingly jeopardised by budget cuts. 

This report is from a study which aimed to find out what effects the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) cash assistance has had on the lives of Syrian refugees in Jordan. It had the following objectives:

  1. to evaluate beneficiary spending patterns and their effect on family well-being;
  2. to evaluate the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of cash assistance provided by UNHCR and the Child Cash Grant (CCG) provided by the UNICEF; and
  3. to evaluate the complementarity of (as well as gaps in) programming by UNICEF, UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP) in targeting the most vulnerable groups.

Primary research found that refugee households remain highly vulnerable. Most have expenditures that exceed their reported incomes – in some cases quite dramatically – and are living in overcrowded conditions that exacerbate health risks. Many children, especially older adolescents, remain out of school, and good nutrition is impossible for the majority. Refugees’ psychosocial wellbeing is poor and their opportunities for socialisation and participation limited, especially for women. The research found that UN cash assistance is broadly making lives better – especially when it is combined with full-value WFP vouchers.