In the context of Iraq, cash is a becoming an increasingly common mean for aid delivery by a variety of humanitarian partners. Within this framework, REACH proposed to the Iraq Cash Working Group (CWG) in September 2016 the concept of launching the Joint Price Monitoring Initiative (JPMI), drawing significant interest from the CWG partners in attendance. The JPMI aims to harmonize price-related data collection among cash actors in Iraq, producing monthly factsheets and standardized datasets in order to better inform cash programming. The methodology of the JPMI – developed by REACH – seeks to ensure that price data is robust and diverse within each district selected for data collection, and was endorsed by the CWG in October 2016.
The JPMI has since become a collaborative effort of the CWG, with 12 partner agencies – ACF, DRC, IRC, Mercy Corps, NRC, Oxfam GB, REACH Iraq, TdH, Tearfund, Triangle GH, WHH, and World Vision – participating in the first round of data collection. On December 15th, the inaugural factsheet and datasets for the JPMI was released, recording prices from 363 individual shops in 74 markets across 13 districts in 7 governorates.
The scope of the JPMI is driven by partner preference, and market selection and assignment was conducted through collaborative market selection workshops in five subnational CWG areas. Partner agencies were asked to select three central markets – those with wholesalers – and three secondary markets – those without wholesalers – within each district. These markets were then assigned to partners based on interest and existing capacity. To ensure triangulation of prices, partner enumerators were instructed to gather a minimum of three prices for each item in every assessed market. All JPMI partners utilize the same methodology, and collect price data via a standardized mobile-base Kobo tool.
Through the JPMI, the CWG and REACH have succeeded in harmonizing the existing price monitoring activities of partners, which will provide robust, standardized monthly price datasets to cash actors in Iraq. In addition, the data collected by the JPMI serves to inform calculations for the value of the nationwide Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB), which was developed by the CWG to represent the minimum culturally adjusted group of items required to support a six-person household for one month. The monthly factsheets also present SMEB calculations at the district level, in order to provide subnational-level cash actors with localized analysis of the consumer context.