SANA’A – In the first large-scale operation of its kind in Yemen, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) began this month providing cash transfers to 57,000 households in Taiz and Ibb governorates to help people supplement their food consumption.
Cash transfers are part of WFP’s emergency safety-net programme, which provides food assistance to some 3.8 million people across the country. WFP is implementing this innovative assistance tool in Yemen in cooperation with the Yemeni Posts and Postal Services Corporation and the Ministry of Education in selected districts with developed financial services and local markets.
“When the right conditions are there such as the availability of food in the market and providers to disburse the cash, cash transfers is often more appropriate than simply handing out a food basket,” said WFP Representative and Country Director Bishow Parajuli. “This type of assistance introduces the element of choice and helps to stimulate local markets.”
Through this programme, each targeted family receives the equivalent of US$27.50 per month to purchase food. While families are free to spend the cash as they want, surveys have shown that most of the money is indeed spent on food with the remainder being used for other essentials such as health care or schooling.
Over the coming months, WFP plans to scale up cash assistance in Yemen, both as part of relief distributions to vulnerable families and as payment from participants in WFP’s work projects aimed at creating community assets and strengthening people’s capacity to withstand shocks.
Food prices in local markets, security and availability of financial services are some of the criteria WFP uses to determine the most suitable form of assistance in every geographical area; whether through food distributions, cash or vouchers.