The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a food voucher scheme to help address food security among the most vulnerable households in Benghazi and boost the local economy and small businesses.
BENGHAZI-- Around 4,000 Libyan families in the port city and surrounding areas are to receive about 30,000 vouchers at a total value of 540,000 Libyan Dinars (US$443,000) in the first phase of distributions this month.
WFP plans to reach up to 10,000 families by the end of the three-month pilot project, which is set for future expansion in Tripoli and other areas in Libya, infrastructure permitting. Families benefiting from the scheme will be able to exchange WFP vouchers for food they choose in selected shops.
“Food voucher schemes allow WFP to assist people who live in areas where food is available but they are unable to afford it in sufficient quantities or where there’s a shortage of cash,” says WFP Representative and Country Director in Libya Zlatan Milisic. “Food is now available in most of Libya and it’s become feasible to switch to voucher-based assistance that acts as a cash injection to both families and the local economy.”
The project targets families whose incomes hardly cover basic food items needed to maintain a healthy diet. They are identified by Libya’s Ministry of Endowment’s Zakat commission in Benghazi, the Ministry of Social Welfare and local NGOs. The project will also target internally displaced people in cooperation with the Libyan Humanitarian relief Agency (LibAid), the government’s humanitarian arm.
WFP began the first round of distributions in cooperation with its long-standing partner the Libyan Red Crescent as well as with the Libya’s Boy Scouts organisation and the private sector.
The WFP vouchers aim to support the restoration and development of social services following last year’s conflict and it complements the Libyan government’s efforts in reforming social safety nets that support the most vulnerable groups in the country.
WFP has been providing food assistance to people hit by the conflict throughout Libya since March 2011, reaching more than 1.4 million people with more than 24,000 metric tons of basic food commodities.