In the midst of the Mali refugee crisis in Niger, UNHCR implemented one of the first multisector cash transfer projects in Mangaize refugee camp in 2015, providing refugees with grants covering non-food items, hygiene, shelter and livelihood needs. The cash project came on the heels of a successful food voucher program in the same camp implemented jointly with WFP. The voucher program demonstrated the appropriateness and feasibility of cash transfers in a refugee setting. This led to the development of UNHCR’s innovative multisector cash project in Mangaize.
With little experience in cash, common sense and a strong country team, UNHCR developed a successful multisector cash project in combination with other support mechanisms to stimulate refugees capabilities to become self-sufficient. Good practices demonstrated by the project and appropriate to the context include alignment with national social protection systems as an exit strategy for humanitarian caseloads.
The key challenges to operationalising multisector and multipurpose cash in the region include gaps in strategic leadership and coordination, situation analysis, market analysis, and risk mitigation. Opportunities include leveraging increasingly integrated partnerships, and investing in new technologies such as mobile money.
UNHCR’s experience in Mangaize holds important lessons for the agency’s transition from multisector cash to multipurpose cash in refugee settings. It can facilitate a broader introduction of multipurpose cash by the cash community of practice across Niger and the West Africa region.
Date: September 8th 2016
Author: Floor Grootenhuis and Muriel Calo