“It’s all political” – that is the common answer from many Lebanese people when asked about why and how certain things work in Lebanon, such as the distribution of resources. Despite this ubiquitous use of politics as reasoning for many circumstances in Lebanon, the design, implementation, and evaluation of humanitarian cash-based interventions, as a response to the Syrian refugee crisis, often lacks a political view and analysis, which seems to be at odds with the everyday social realities that people in Lebanon live in. This paper provides an analysis of cash assistance programming in Lebanon, and makes the case for an integration of a political economy analysis in different stages of these interventions. Integrating political economy analysis into existing livelihoods assessments is an especially promising opportunity that can inform cash assistance interventions, and ultimately make programmes more effective. It can serve to highlight an understanding of processes of vulnerability as a relational phenomenon, embedded within social and political contexts by encouraging, for instance, attention to political and social exclusion. Changes in people’s livelihoods and coping strategies need to be matched by an adaptation of humanitarian responses that understand the inherently political processes of vulnerability, and their dependencies on largely local and wider power dynamics. This paper essentially shows that if organisations aim to not only ‘do no harm’, but to also do ‘maximum good’, interventions need to be based on a sound understanding of social and political environments that shape, and are shaped by, these interventions.
Author: Kristina Tschunkert
Publication Date: 2018