Lebanon has now over a million Syrian refugees. SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL, present in the country since 2006, is helping more than 19,000 Syrian refugees in Tripoli region, located in the north of the country. Our organization has been developing an innovative program for several months: cash transfers by credit card.
Taking aid further is the motto of our teams all over the world, whether in Myanmar, Haiti or in Lebanon. That’s what it’s all about in Lebanon. Beyond the support that we put in place to give access to water and to shelter construction in the informal settlements or the help that we bring with collective shelter rehabilitation, our teams in Lebanon have developed a cash transfer program. Even if this method is popular, here, in Lebanon, where there are many banks, it is considered very innovative. There is no banknote exchange; you simply need a credit card and a bank account.
A targeted action and a prepared distribution
The households targeted by that aid are first determined by SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s teams with a common evaluation form created by all the NGOs working in Lebanon under the authority of the Lebanon Cash Consortium (see box below). “Only the most vulnerable people have access to this program. 19,000 people were picked according to the number of household members, their specific needs (education, handicap, and age), income, accommodation…” explains Meziane Selmi, Program Coordinator who insists on the importance of a well prepared distribution. “Since we became members of the LCC, the distributions are made on specific locations and we are more effective: with the door-to-door method we only reached 90 people a day against 200 to 300 today.”
Train to help further
“Usually, everyone is very happy to receive his card, but a great number of beneficiaries ask us about the duration of the assistance and would like to receive a little more help,” notices Ghinwa Haidar. Thus, our teams regularly organize training sessions on how to use the card and ATMs as well as the programme itself. Since June 30th, four distributions took place in the districts of Mineh Denniyeh and Zgharta and affected 490 households (309 more will be assisted in August, reaching a total of 801 people).
Stimulate the local markets
Thanks to their account and their credit card, the beneficiaries can directly decide on how they want to use their money. This is an efficient way to allow them to provide for themselves independently while stimulating the local markets. The great advantage of this program is that “the help is not limited: the beneficiaries, targeted upstream, can use the money to pay their rent, which is impossible with a classic distribution of food or non-food items.” concludes Ghinwa Haida, deputy project manager.