Cash transfer programmes provide independence during a crisis

Published: 3 September 2013 17:13 CET

By Leena Reikko, IFRC

Abu Kerim, 69, is breathing hard after climbing up to his one room flat on the rooftop of a four-storey building in the southern suburbs of Amman. He was told he is not allowed to use the elevator since he can’t afford to pay for its maintenance, as his neighbors do. In his native Syria, Abu Kerim was a wealthy landlord; as a refugee in Jordan, he and his wife Aida, 65, are left to survive with the help of charity organizations.

“We have twice got food parcels and hygiene kits from the Jordan National Red Crescent Society,” says Abu Kerim.

The one room flat costs 125 Jordanian dinars (JD), equivalent to 132 euros. The only furniture is a white plastic chair and two mattresses on the floor. The savings Abu Kerim was able to bring from Homs in the beginning of the year are all gone by now.

“We could never imagine that we have to leave our home country,” Abu says. “And we did not want to leave, but after my wife got injured, there was no alternative.” His wife was injured twice by sniper’s bullets and is still in need of medical care – which they cannot afford.

“I am in constant pain and cannot walk”, she says sitting on a thin mattress on the floor. Only one of family’s seven children is in Amman, now visiting her parents with a toddler, born here in exile. All the others are dispersed; some still in Homs, some elsewhere in Syria and Lebanon. None of them is able to follow local traditions and take care of their ailing parents. Everybody is just trying to survive in their own corner.

There are 554,00 Syrian refugees registered in Jordan, and the majority of them are in host communities struggling with rents and other costs of living.

For families like this, the Jordan National Red Crescent Society started a Cash Transfer Programme earlier this year in cooperation with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Swiss Red Cross. So far the programme has reached 1,660 families and 492,080 JD(519.638  euros), has been transferred to beneficiaries. The allowance varies between 50-120 JD per month depending of the size of the family, and is given for three months.

“Through this programme we help people to pay their rents and other expenses, and this helps them maintain their dignity. They receive an AMT card and go to a bank like everybody else,” says Mamdouh Al-Hadid, a Disaster Management Unit officer with National Society. “Soon this couple will benefit from our programme. We have visited them several times to clarify that there is really need for that,” he says.

It is Friday and time for the most important prayer of the week. Abu Kerim leaves his home, takes the stairs to the ground floor and heads towards the mosque.