All collected Zakat funds in 2016 and 2017 were dedicated to UNHCR’s cash assistance programme in Jordan. These funds which were received by some 14,775 Syrian refugee families (approximately 73,875 individuals) living in urban areas in Jordan have enabled beneficiaries to cover essential costs of living for one month, such as rent, debt repayment, utilities, medical care for children, clothing, school fees and food. It also helped refugees in improving their social networks by allowing them to repay loans borrowed from family, neighbors, and landlords; therefore, reducing household and community tensions.
Vulnerable families are often headed by women who often face cultural, legal and childcare-related obstacles in finding work. Cash assistance helps prevent thousands of refugees from facing severe hardship and resorting to desperate survival strategies – such as pulling children out of school, child labor and begging, survival sex, early marriage or returning to war zones.
Refugees access the funds by scanning their iris at ATM machines and thanks to this innovative programme, there are no bank cards or pin numbers to remember. Instead, refugees simply use their irises as a form of identification which provides an instant, cost-effective and fraud-proof methodology to directly support vulnerable families.
UNHCR monitors cash recipients, assessing their vulnerabilities and quality of living and follow up with the families through home-visits.