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UNHCR Introduces New Modality of Assistance in Kazakhstan

ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN. While UNHCR in Kazakhstan has provided financial assistance to the most vulnerable persons of concern since late 1990s, this year the Office introduces a pro-active approach to the use and scaling-up of cash-based interventions (CBIs). It means moving from mixed assistance modality towards harmonised cash based interventions in the form of Multipurpose Cash Grants (MPGs) for refugees and asylum seekers in the most vulnerable and destitute situations. The purpose of MPGs is to assist vulnerable persons of concern through the delivery of a one-time unconditional cash grant meant to address multiple needs including those previously covered through in-kind assistance (medicine, clothes, sanitary items, school supplies for students, etc.).

MPGs are seen as more dignified and cost-effective way of assisting persons of concern as they give the recipients of assistance greater dignity of choice and flexibility in identifying their own priority needs. In the context of Kazakhstan with stable markets and favourable security situation, MPGs are recognized as the most appropriate response modality to meet the basic needs of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers.

On 3 February 2017, UNHCR through its partner Kazakhstan Red Crescent Society delivered first MPGs to 42 most vulnerable families of refugees and asylum seekers residing in Almaty. While it may take some time for the recipients of assistance to get used to the new modality and learn how to manage their own family budget, the feedback received so far is quite positive and hopeful.

“It is very convenient for my family to receive cash. We can immediately pay three-month rent of our apartment,” refugee from Uzbekistan and single mother of five says, “besides, we can now plan our budget and even start saving some money for unforeseen expenses”.

“Cash distribution is of great value for us as the amount increased and we can now plan our expenditures and spend money in accordance with our urgent needs,” confirms Syrian refugee who fled the conflict in Syria in 2012.

“In the past, my children could not select school uniforms or supplies they liked and had to use what they were given. Now we can enjoy the freedom of choice and buy things we like and save money buying in cheaper places. This is a great opportunity for children to practise decision-making and get things in accordance with their age preferences,” says refugee from Uzbekistan and single father of four. “As for planning and saving, I will now be able to regulate our budget and expenses. For example, if we do not have medical expenses this month, I will be able allocate this amount to buy more food for my children.  We have to be more flexible to raise our children,” he adds.

It is expected that the use of MPGs will improve cost-efficiency and effectiveness in the provision of protection and solutions. The UNHCR also hopes that the new assistance modality will promote better integration of persons of concern in the host community and support local trade and economy.