Direct Cash Grants to Refugees 1 Year On

ESSN is a programme used to distribute funds, it has been running in Turkey for over one year. Solon Ardittis explores some of the ‘key policy lessons that can be drawn from the implementation of the ESSN to date, both from a beneficiary’s and donor’s point of view’. Humanitarian Law & Policy Blog 

Recent data suggest that in ‘2016 there were 40.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide and 22.5 million refugees.’ WMR 2018Some of the highest figures of displaced people on record.

Refugees in Turkey

Over three million refugees are registered in Turkey. Figures that suggest Turkey has the largest refugee population in the world. Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran contribute to these figures.  According to the World Migration Report 2018, 2.8 million Syrians were hosted by Turkey in 2016.

In Turkey, the majority of Syrian refugees live outside of camp settings. Their lives are directly affected by limited access to basic services. Currently, the EU has ‘contracted 45 Humanitarian projects with 19 humanitarian organisations’  to support refugees.

A partnership between the European Union and Turkey. Implemented by the World Food Programme and the Turkish Red Cross and others facilitated the ESSN programme. The European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO)launched the Emergency Social Safety Net Programme (ESSN). It has now been running for over a year.

What is an ESSN card?

The ESSN card is a debit card that functions like the debit cards most of us carry around on a daily basis. Debit cards provide choices for people through how they are used. Refugees can use the cards to manage their own lives despite living in challenging circumstances. Refugee families that are part of this programme receive a fixed amount of money on a monthly basis. This is estimated to be ‘120 Turkish Liras (about 28 euros)’ per family member.

Unconditional monthly cash payments

Empowering people through unconditional monthly cash payments is being trialed in various countries around the world. Uganda, Netherlands, Finland, Kenya to name just a few. Unconditional cash payments are a unique feature of this method. A feature that contributes to people’s lives in new ways.

Ardittis suggests that this has ‘transformed considerably the ways in which recipients behave economically, feel less disenfranchised and gradually gain a more dignified status in society.


Read the full article by Solon Ardittis at Humanitarian Law & Policy Blog 

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