Innovating humanitarian assistance

Thursday, July 28, 2022
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People affected by natural disasters, violent conflict, health catastrophes or climate change often lose their ability to access food because they need to flee, have lost their incomes or just because of the surrounding chaos.

Canadian Foodgrains Bank members support people experiencing crises like these through emergency food assistance. In the past, Foodgrains Bank members shipped grain and food products overseas. But nowadays, there are several different and more efficient ways to help people access the food they need right away, while allowing them the dignity of choosing the food that suits their family and supporting the local economy.

Here are just a few of the ways we’re innovating humanitarian assistance around the world during times of crisis:

Both ADRA Lebanon and World Renew partner MERATH provide refugees with cash for groceries via different versions of a store card (much like a grocery gift card) that can be redeemed at local stores. The cards are remotely reloaded monthly with an amount based on current food prices.

In Lebanon, Nahida picks out food to buy with her food voucher. Photo: World Renew, Helen Manson

ERDO and local partner World Concern Development Organisation are providing households with three monthly mobile cash transfers to purchase food. Cash transfers are most appropriate in Somalia because most food items can be purchased in nearby markets.

Through ZOA Refugee Care Colombia, World Renew is supporting the high number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia’s border regions. ZOA distributes monthly cash-based food vouchers for six months that can be redeemed in local shops for food items.

Households received cash, plus rice, bean seeds and either a sheep or a goat through World Renew and its local partner Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar.

Households were provided with either a sheep or a goat, as well as other supplies in Madagascar.

World Renew and its local partner FH Mozambique provide internally displaced people with food vouchers. Local markets are far from the resettlement center, so arrangements were made with local wholesale suppliers to set up pop up shops near the camps. This makes it easier for people to access food redeemable with their vouchers.

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit many villages in southwestern Haiti which was already struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, violence, inflation and low agricultural production due to below-average rainfall last season. World Renew Haiti is providing households with three monthly cash-based transfers to be used to purchase food from local markets.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Tearfund Canada supported local partner EFICOR’s response in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar and Rajashtan. For three months, the project provided households with cash to purchase food and emergency supplies.

Sugna Yadav from Pratapgarh, Rajasthan with the groceries purchased from the cash transfer.

Myanmar’s lengthy conflict crisis has resulted in more than 300,000 internally displaced people who fled from violence in their home states. Most are food insecure with few resources to afford and access sufficient supplies. In Kayin state, ADRA provided families with food vouchers redeemable for rice, beans, oil and salt available in local markets over a four-month period.

ADRA Kenya transfers money to people like Namoti Buo Longoi via an electronic mobile money service that allows Kenyans to store, send and receive money on their cell phones.

Mrs Namoti Buo Longoi, Cash transfer beneficiary displays her Mpesa message at her home in Township ward, Nakwamekwi, Kenya. Photo: ADRA Kenya.

This article was published in the spring 2022 edition of Breaking Bread. 

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