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Evaluative Learning Study for Phase III of the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Assistance for Refugees in Turkey

This report was prepared for the IFRC Turkey Office under the project titled: “Evaluative Learning Study for Phase III of the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Assistance for Refugees in Turkey”. The analysis and writing for the report were carried out in the period September 2021 - April 2022. The report was prepared by experts at Development Analytics, Dr Meltem Aran, Nazli Aktakke, Dr Gokce Baykal, Zehra Sena Kibar and Yali Hajhassan with inputs for the literature review provided by Tugce Kilic.

Report Chapters

The Emergency Social Safety Net has been supporting a significant number of refugees living in Turkey since the end of 2016 and is helping them meet their basic needs. Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) has been funded by the European Union (EU) and is currently implemented by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) and Ministry of Family and Social Services. ESSN is the largest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and it provides monthly cash assistance to beneficiary households. The Strategic Mid Term Evaluation of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey highlights the importance of the ESSN and notes that "the Facility has contributed significantly to meeting the basic needs of 1.75 million refugees through the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN)"

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In this part of the report, we present findings on the livelihoods and coping of refugees during the pre-COVID times. We make use of analysis of datasets PDM8 (collected between April-October 2019), and DHS 2018 (collected between October 2018-February 2019) as well as a desk review of relevant resources giving information on livelihoods and coping of refugees prior to COVID.

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In this part of the report, we focus on the pandemic period from March 2020 until February 2021 and compare the pandemic period with the pre-pandemic period. For this section of the analysis, we mainly relied on the findings from the analysis of PDM7, PDM8, PDM10 and PDM11 cross-sectional datasets collected between January 2019 and January 2021 and the analysis of IVS1 dataset collected between August 2020 and February 2021. Findings from the analysis of these quantitative datasets were also accompanied by findings emerging from the analysis of FGDs carried out by IFRC and TRC in July 2020 and web scraped data originating from Kizilaykart’s public Facebook page.

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For this part of the report, we focus on the later stages of the pandemic and compare the outcomes with the earlier stages of the pandemic. For this part of the analysis, we relied on PDM12 dataset collected in May-September 2021 and compared the results with PDM10 dataset collected a year ago from the same households. These findings are also accompanied by findings from the FGD data collected by IFRC and TRC in August-September 2021 as well as web scraped data from Kizilaykart’s public Facebook page spanning a period until the end of 2021.

This study has focused on the socio-economic challenges faced by refugees and the role of the ESSN in Turkey, along with other income sources in enabling refugee’s capacity to cope with these challenges. The study has focused on the pre-pandemic period as well as assessed changes through the early and later stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and late 2021. Refugees in Turkey were already working in precarious and informal sector jobs prior to the pandemic, and their livelihoods have been seriously impacted in this period as a result of restrictions, that led to lower hours worked and lower earnings. The ESSN, especially with the top-ups provided in the early stages of the pandemic, was an important support and lifeline for beneficiary refugee households, protecting them from negative coping strategies in the early stages of the pandemic.