Enabling survival through cash assistance:
The series of crises hitting Lebanon since 2019 hasn’t been the least merciful to the family of Moufid and Roumiyeh. With 8 children to feed and nurture, a long struggle takes its course before a modest meal is served — and that’s not the only challenge.
The family’s almost zero purchasing power leaves the children with no adequate garments to keep them warm. No closets, no beds, or tables to dine on. No other essential furniture to support a decent lifestyle. Although there is a fridge, there is no power supply, which means no access to cool water, fresh fruits, dairy products, or meat.
The Family’s Winters in Aley
Adding to the lack of electricity that aggravates the family’s quality of life, the arrival of winter doesn’t help — although they say rain is a blessing. However, due to the extremely poor conditions of the dilapidated house, big puddles of water leak inside the rooms through the cracks in the walls and the ceiling.
Without any carpets or access to heating, the children often get sick at this time of the year. While the youngest, Joyce (7), Waad (4), and Malak (3), have a more vulnerable immunity, the eldest, Khaldiye (19), Layal (18), Zahra (17), Rakan (15), and Wafaa (14), suffer the contagious effect of their siblings’ illnesses.
The Curse of the Lebanese Economic Crisis
It wasn’t always the case. Before the economic downturn, Moufid was able to provide his family with better living conditions. He could pay the rent where they used to live, provide a good meal, and occasionally afford private lessons for his children’s education.
But since Moufid lost his job, he hasn’t been able to pay the rent. He moved with his family to an impoverished house in the mountains, which was offered to him for free.
Despite all this, Moufid doesn’t give up. Every morning, he leaves home for the random chance of earning some money to buy his family basic food. He offers cleaning and delivery services in return for meager tips that have lost almost all their value with the fluctuating rate of the Lebanese pound. Now, it amounts to around 2 USD a day, which barely covers his transportation costs.
Restoring Hope with Cash Assistance
Based on the vulnerability of his family, Moufid is eligible for the National Poverty Targeting Programme (NPTP), a programme by the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (PCM) in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the generous funding of the European Union and other donors. The family receives an e-card, which can be used to redeem cash at ATMs, buy food, and secure basic needs.
Moufid withdraws the money every month and hands it over to his wife, Roumiyeh, who shops for cooking essentials and milk, especially for the little ones. She also buys grains and affordable proteins to make sure no one goes hungry to bed.
As the children grow up during these tough times, they begin to encounter more of the challenges awaiting them. Upon watching the school bus pick up their neighbors, they wonder, “when will it be our turn?” Moufid and Roumiyeh dream of having an answer one day. They tried admitting their children to nearby schools but were not able to secure them a seat at public schools or afford the tuition fees at private ones.
In the meantime, Moufid and Roumiyeh continue to seek more means of survival. They both stress that without this monthly cash assistance, they can’t imagine how else they would have survived.
About the National Poverty Targeting Programme (NPTP)
As the oldest safety net in Lebanon that began in 2011, the National Poverty Targeting Programme provides monthly cash assistance to the poorest Lebanese. It is led by the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (PCM). Since 2014, WFP, with the generous funding of the European Union and other donors, has been supporting the food assistance component of the NPTP through e-cards that are redeemable at various access points across Lebanon. As for the use of cash, it is unrestricted so that families can decide what they need the most.
In April 2023, 371,000 vulnerable Lebanese are receiving monthly cash assistance through this programme.
With such a layer of financial security, struggling families feel reassured and encouraged to keep up their resilience and look forward to the future, no matter how unpromising the present may seem.