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People’s Perspectives of Emergency Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance

in Central Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara

Following the July 2018 earthquake in West Nusa Tenggara and the September 2018 earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi, UNICEF and its partners introduced Multi-purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) programs as part of their efforts to support recovery in communities. UNICEF commissioned Empatika to understand people's experiences after these disasters, and specifically their perspectives and experiences of the MPC assistance.For this qualitative assessment our team visited two communities each in Donggala, Palu, and Sigi in Central Sulawesi (May 2019); and two communities in North Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara (July 2019). The insights gathered from the study have helped inform learning for the Cash Working Group and its partners about best practices in MPC assistance during emergencies from the perspectives of beneficiaries.

Some of the key findings from this study included: 

  • People want cash, although ‘in-kind’ assistance was appreciated right after the disaster before markets resumed normally.

  • People prefer receiving cash assistance early on because i. livelihoods were disrupted and families had limited to no earnings to meet expenses, and ii. assistance cash could be used to buy what people needed to fill gaps in external aid.

  • People had limited information about the MPCA programme, including recipients who too had limited or unclear information relating to disbursement frequency and dates, and required documentation.

  • People thought the house damage criteria for assistance eligibility (as was used in Donggala and Palu) is opaque with levels of damage open to interpretation. Targeting based on having young children seemed to be more accepted.

  • People in Central Sulawesi were critical of the programme’s rationale for using bank accounts as a way to encourage financial inclusion. Most people do not have savings and did not expect to continue using their accounts.


Palu, Sigi, Donggala in Central Sulawesi; North Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara


participatory focus group discussions (pFGDs), immersions, and transformative digital storytelling (DST).



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