Social Study Report

The Social Study Report is an investigation form with which the social worker compile information about the SHC.16 The report is executed and updated annually in order to plan the Agency's activities in relation to the individual Special Hardship Case. The form itself consists of one sheet for information on the family, one sheet for information on each individual of the family, and a form containing recommendations for assistance by the social workers and recommending and approving officers.

The family sheet of the Social Study Report contains the following data about the registered refugee:

  • Name of Head of Family, his registration numbers, and address
  • Total family income
  • Type of accommodation
  • Furniture
  • Home equipment
  • Assistance received from UNRWA during last two years, etc.
In total there are approximately 50 variables, including UNRWA classifications.
The individual sheet of the Social Study Report is filled for each individual in a SHC family, and contains the following data:
  • First name, gender, date of birth, rank, family status, registration numbers
  • Health
  • Education
  • Economic status and potentials, etc.
In total there are approximately 40 variables for each individual.

For the first time within the UNRWA records, the Social Study Report joins data concerning population registration, social relief, health and education. In the future UNRWA intends to computerize all information about SHCs collected by the Social Study Reports. At present this scheme has been implemented in the Fields of Syria and Jordan.

A general goal of the Agency is to shift from a relief-oriented toward a more development-oriented policy. The Social Study Reports are thus particularly concerned with data regarding the economic potential of the individual SHC. Due to its uniform system for data collection, the Social Study Report provides an unique possibility for direct comparison of the situation for SHCs in UNRWA's five Fields of operation.

The Social Study Report questionnaire does not, however, always adhere to unambiguous categories. "Are you employed?" is for example posed as a question with a yes/no alternative left to the respondent to classify him or herself. This question has low reliability because two persons actually in the same situation of employment may answer it differently.

One may also ask whether the same family would be classified as a SHC by two different sets of UNRWA staff or in two different UNRWA Fields? UNRWA's guidelines for the SHC programme are unambiguous and comprehensive, but to our knowledge, there is no system for checking the reliability of the data generated by the Social Study Report.

If the reliability problem was solved by explicitly defining "employment" as for example five hours of paid work last week, the question may still have problems of validity. If the purpose of the question is to measure the person's ability to provide for himself and/or his family, another definition of "employed" and additional questions may be more appropriate.

If the researcher aims to study poverty another question he may pose regarding the validity of the Social Study Report data is whether the criteria for enrolment as a SHC are valid as indicators of poverty?

The data generated by the Social Study Report nevertheless constitute a high quality, comprehensive, integrated and, conditioned on necessary permissions, technically easily accessible data base on the most economically deprived segment of the refugee population.

See list of questions in Appendix 6


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