Since 2020, the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) has been working with the Local Government Authorities (LGAs) to develop a Forecast based Action (FbA) mechanism to act in anticipation of a disaster based on a flood warning informed by weather forecasts. One of the objectives of this action is to explore the possibility of leveraging existing social protection systems to deliver early action assistance to flood-hit communities.
The concept of Shock-Responsive Social Protection (SRSP) has been tested in the floods of 2021 and 2022 in the targeted municipalities. During the 2021 unseasonal floods in the Kailali district, a vertical expansion of the Social Security Allowance (SSA) was piloted by providing Multi-Purpose Cash (MPC) assistance to the SSA recipients as a one-time top-up who had been impacted by the flood. While this case provided a proof of concept for a cost and time-efficient cash transfer modality to reach a significant proportion of the Nepali population with cash assistance that is deemed as ‘vulnerable’ and/or ‘affected’ by a given disaster, there was still a need to reach the remaining affected population not registered under the program with complimenting modalities. To provide a practical solution for this limitation, the action implemented a horizontal expansion of SSA to cover the total impacted households within the targeted geographical area in anticipation of the upcoming monsoon. In Janaki municipality, Kailali district 149 households were provided with multi-purpose cash by temporarily expanding the SSA database.
While the preparatory work to roll out the temporary horizontal expansion was done in anticipation of the floods, the actual cash was transferred after 4 days of the disaster. Cash in anticipation is still marred with a lot of clarity in the absence of endorsement of the Cash guidelines by the government. Hence, it is yet to be tested.
Independent evaluation of horizontal expansion shows that the affected population can receive the cash transfer immediately within a few days of a small to medium-scale disaster. And since local markets are uninterrupted under such circumstances, early cash response can support in meeting the most basic and urgent needs of the affected families in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. The action recommends the SRSP as a feasible solution to not only an efficient but also a dignified emergency response.
The action aims at offering proof of concepts of feasible SRSP solutions that can influence the government of Nepal’s SRSP policies, guidelines and strategies. Both the 2021 and 2022 multi-purpose cash assistance were done as a rapid response although the preparatory work necessary for the transfers was done in anticipation of the floods.
Predetermined parameters agreed ex-ante are:
Identification of flood-exposed geographical areas for the horizontal expansion.
Pre-registration of the potential households within the area that will receive the support.
Identification of multi-purpose cash transfer and encashment mechanism.
Identification of triggers to authorize the horizontal expansion.
The expected outcomes of the intervention were:
To provide MPC assistance as early response immediately after the floods so that households can meet their most basic and urgent needs.
To provide a ‘proof of concept’ to key stakeholders, at both the local and national levels regarding the feasibility of temporary horizontal expansion of the SSA and its features to deliver cash assistance to disaster-affected households. The horizontal expansion also resolves the issue of exclusion error through geographical targeting.
This action is part of the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations funded project “Forecast-based Action and Shock Responsive Social Protection in Lumbini and Sudhur Paschim Provinces,” which is led by the Danish Red Cross with consortium partners – the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center and the Handicap International and implemented by the Nepal Red Cross Society.
Follow this link for a detailed study of the cash relief for the 2021 floods delivered through leveraging Nepal’s Social Security Allowance program.