As a former focus country in terms of cash and voucher assistance in 2016 and 2017, UNHCR’s DRC operation invested significantly in institutionalizing this type of assistance, and in capacity-building with regard to such modalities.
KEY INDICATORS FOR 2018
$3,386,472 were transferred to beneficiaries under UNHCR’s programmes (a 261% increase from 2017, and 882% from 2016).
126,300 individuals received cash assistance from UNHCR (over 25,000 vulnerable households).
26% of UNHCR’s cash assistance was implemented directly by UNHCR, the rest by implementing partners.
76% of UNHCR’s cash assistance was distributed through a financial service provider (bank or mobile money provider).
Cash assistance for IDPs, returnees and people affected by displacement
In 2018, UNHCR scaled up unrestricted multipurpose cash assistance to those affected by internal displacement in Kasai, Ituri and Tanganyika provinces, reaching 48,750 vulnerable individuals (nearly 10,000 households) with transfers of $100 to $150.
UNHCR also scaled up cash-for-shelter; 35,000 selected individuals (nearly 7,000 households) received cash, as well as construction materials and tools in multiple phases to reconstruct shelters. In most localities, this was coupled with multipurpose cash transfers, to allow households to respond to their basic needs while concentrating on reconstruction. This approach can positively affect displaced people’s decision to return, paving the way towards durable solutions.
In North Kivu Province, 300 displaced and returned women and girls, at risk of sexual exploitation, received conditional cash grants to invest in Income-Generating Activities (IGA).
In the Kasai region, UNHCR and its partner War Child started piloting cash-for-protection interventions at the end of 2018, aiming to provide rapid, flexible and adapted solutions to victims of abuse, and prevent further risks by giving them the means to access needed services. Being a pilot project, it is being closely monitored and documented.
Mobile Money to support refugees’ financial inclusion
UNHCR started piloting the use of mobile money at Mulongwe settlement, South Kivu Province, in 2018. 2,000 Burundian refugee households received a mobile phone, a SIM card and a mobile money account, along with training on the use of mobile money. This allows the transfer of cash assistance both from UNHCR as well as other agencies (eg. WFP), and enables refugees to access other financial services, improving financial inclusion. This project was supported and used as a case study by DFID programme ELAN RDC, to support the development of mobile money in DRC. While the use of mobile money still needs improvement, and faced important challenges in 2018, it opened new perspectives for financial inclusion to be part of refugees’ self-reliance. In Mulongwe, UNHCR’s cash assistance helps Burundian refugees construct shelter and latrines for their families, pay school fees and supplies, and start income-generating activities.
Mitigating the risks: Identifying & preventing risks of abuse
End of October 2018, UNHCR’s DRC operation served as the first pilot country for the global “Mitigating the risks” project, jointly led by UNHCR and WFP, on identifying and mitigating the risks of abuse of power by financial service providers during cash distribution. The pilot led to the identification of good practices and recommendations, and the production of a toolbox to enhance risk-mitigation and sensitisation of beneficiaries. The DRC case study will inform the global project’s next step, and its rollout in 22 additional countries.