The Cash-for-Work Programme That Helped Mohammed Establish a Grocery for a Secure Income

04 July 2017
© 2017 UNRWA Photo by Riham Jafary

Mohammed Yaghi, a Palestine refugee, cheerfully arranges vegetables in his new grocery and poultry shop in Fawwar refugee camp in the West Bank.  This small shop, established with income Mohammed earned through his participation in the Cash-for-Work (CfW) programme, provides his family of six with a secure source of income and a sustainable livelihood. 

Having previously struggled to secure employment and a steady income, Mohammed was offered four three-month contracts in a span of four years working as a janitor in one of the UNRWA schools in the camp.  He utilized the money he received through CfW to rehabilitate his house and establish his small shop.  “CfW is a means of assisting the poor in a dignified way. My small shop will help me to achieve self-reliance,” says Mohammed.

Mohammed’s wife Abeer says, “we were very happy when my husband got opportunities through CfW since the money we received improved our economic situation and lessened our financial load.”  She adds that the children are also happy to be living in a good house and look forward to receiving a good education because the better living conditions will allow them to perform better in school, enabling a decent life for themselves.

The unemployment rate in the West Bank is extremely high: 17.8 per cent among non-refugees and 19.17 per cent among refugees. The rate of unemployment among refugees in camps is even higher at 21.8 per cent.

Under these circumstances, UNRWA emergency assistance is essential, mitigating the effects of poverty and improving unemployment rates. Through the CfW programme, supported by the United States government, UNRWA primarily aims to reduce severe food insecurity among refugee households in Palestine refugee camps in the West Bank. The main objective of CfW is to increase economic access to cover the costs of basic needs through the provision of short-term work opportunities.

 CfW beneficiaries are identified through an UNRWA targeting system that uses a proxy-means test formula (PMTF) to assess the level of food security based on essential household characteristics. CfW pays special attention to assisting vulnerable groups, particularly women, youth and persons with disabilities.

Beneficiaries are offered three- or four-month contracts offering cash subsidies of US$ 380/month. CfW opportunities are created in coordination with and based on the needs of local partners, including camp services committees and community-based organizations.

CfW labourers work to implement small-scale infrastructure and community service projects in all 19 refugee camps, thereby contributing to safer and more accessible camp environments. Those projects include rehabilitation of public parks and playgrounds and the maintenance of multi-purpose halls, community centres and other public infrastructure.

In 2016, UNRWA provided Cash-for-Work opportunities to 8,526 individuals. These opportunities benefit not only the individuals, but their entire household, resulting in 45,688 persons indirectly benefiting from the Cash-for-Work programme.

By providing food-insecure refugees like Mohammed with short-term CfW contracts, UNRWA and its partners help to have a positive impact on the whole community. Mohammed explains: “The programme targets youth, and by utilizing their free time, they serve and develop their local community. We wish that the programme will be sustained in order to mitigate poverty.”