Published on 22 July 2022

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Since 2019, Lebanon has experienced political instability and a rapidly unfolding economic crisis. The financial and banking crisis has resulted in a collapse of the economy, and currency depreciation plus subsidy removals were followed by the long-lasting economic effects of the 4 August 2020 Beirut explosion, as well as the devastating consequences of Covid-19. The devaluation of the Lebanese pound (LBP), losing more than 90% of its value since October 2019, has led to high inflation and price increases, with food prices rising 400% between January and December 2020. The result is increasing levels of poverty and vulnerability across the country, both within host and refugee communities. In 2021, 88% of Syrian refugee households were living under extreme poverty, in comparison to 55% in 2019. As a result, households’ capacity to afford food, shelter and healthcare has been increasingly eroded.

In October 2021, WFP assisted 64,589 Syrian refugee households with monthly unrestricted multi-purpose cash assistance. In Lebanon, there is a growing body of studies that has looked at the general impact of multi-purpose cash (MPC) on targeted refugee populations. However, there is a gap in evidence and understanding of how MPC-recipient households with specific vulnerabilities meet their basic needs. Importantly, the MPC assistance does not cover the full recommended Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB)—the calculated amount of funds that ensures a household’s minimum survival needs are met. Therefore, the context is especially challenging for households with vulnerabilities that impact the ability of household members to work or result in additional spending needs—such as households with an elderly member, households with a member with disability and female-headed households.

This study aims to generate a more in-depth and nuanced understanding of the impact of MPC assistance on Syrian refugee households with different vulnerability profiles, and explores how complementary interventions can support severely vulnerable households to meet their basic needs and address issues beyond the reach of cash. Generating evidence on this topic will support WFP, donors, and other cash actors in monitoring the adequacy of the transfer value of MPC in relation to the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB) for specific vulnerable groups, future refinements of the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM), and considerations on which complementary services need to be prioritized to create a safety net for refugees.