ADDIS ABABA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has begun cash distributions to 255,000 vulnerable Ethiopians facing short-term acute food insecurity. The new pilot scheme is supported by funds from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).
Under the project, WFP this month has begun distributing a combination of cash and food assistance to families in Oromia and Amhara who are eligible for relief assistance because natural disasters or conflict have left them temporarily unable to meet their immediate food needs.
“It makes sense to allow people who need assistance to be able to buy food locally when local markets are able to support it,” said Abdou Dieng, WFP Country Director for Ethiopia. “It strengthens the economy and allows for more diversity in their diets.”
Depending on the area and the market conditions, people will receive a monthly food ration as well as a cash allocation of between 100 and 150 Ethiopian birr (about US$5.30 to $8) per person per month, allowing them the freedom to choose which food items to purchase from local suppliers. ECHO is supporting the cost of the cash programme with a contribution of 5 million euros (about US$6.65 million).
This is the second time in a month that WFP has expanded its use of cash in addition to food rations in Ethiopia with the support of ECHO. In July, WFP began cash distributions –in addition to monthly food rations – for refugees living in the Sheddar refugee camp in the Somali region.
“Cash is quick to deliver and cost-effective, and it provides beneficiaries with greater choice,” said Dr. Johan Heffinck from ECHO Ethiopia. “This project can have benefits not only for the local economy but also as an entry point to better link relief, rehabilitation and development activities in Ethiopia”, he added.
Ethiopia has the largest safety net programme in Africa, and cash assistance has been provided under the government’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) since 2005. In the past, WFP has supported both PSNP and short-term relief assistance by providing food rations; under the new initiative, families who are not covered by PSNP may receive part of their monthly food allocation in cash, and part of it in-kind. In other areas, WFP will continue providing monthly food rations.
In Ethiopia WFP provides food assistance for development and relief programmes, and assistance to refugees, to 7 million people.
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.
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For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org):
Melese Awoke, WFP/Ethiopia, tel +251911201981
Challiss McDonough, WFP/Nairobi, tel +254707722104