Cash-based interventions to enhance dignity in persistent humanitarian refugee crises: a system dynamics approach

Cash-based interventions (CBIs) as one form of aid have recently received substantial interest from humanitarian organizations in persistent humanitarian crises. This article proposes a system dynamics (SD) approach to study the CBIs’ impact factors on all aspects of the beneficiaries’ dignity in longstanding refugee crises, such as the case of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Reviewing the humanitarian management literature, we first develop a set of holistic causal loops to better understand the building boxes of refugees’ dignity and their interactions. Then, an SD model is proposed and calibrated by field data from humanitarian organizations. The result of CBI amount sensitivity and payment time periods shows that CBIs are significantly more effective in diminishing child labor rates and to improve in health and accommodation service reception by the refugees in short terms, but to be as much effective in longer terms, humanitarian organizations must be more directly contribute to service capacity-building activities that are strategies by the hosting governments and supported by the international bodies, such as EU and UN. Otherwise, long-term or enhanced CBI supports can only lead to accelerated service capacity saturation and thus put extra pressure on already strained services and cause tensions between hosting and refugee communities.