Spanish Ambassador Federico Torres Muro speaks at the official launch of the Cash and Voucher project in Ecuador. At the main table are (l-r) Mayor of Montúfar, Juan Acosta; the Vice Governor of Carchi, Guillermo Torres, Carchi; WFP Representative, Deborah Hines, and Deputy Director for Refugees, Diana Veloz, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
With the presence of the Spanish Ambassador, national and local authorities, the World Food Programme launched in Ecuador an innovative food assistance project that has also been implemented in another five countries.
SAN GABRIEL, CARCHI. – Through the delivery of cash, vouchers and the distribution of food rations, WFP aims to provide nutritious food to Colombian refugees and vulnerable Ecuadorian families in the provinces of Carchi and Sucumbíos. This way, WFP will support the humanitarian efforts of the Ecuadorian and local governments in the northern border to promote the integration of refugees into host communities.
In the words of Deborah Hines, WFP Representative in Ecuador, the start of this Spanish-funded project is an important milestone for WFP in Ecuador as it will introduce a new modality of food assistance.
Besides the traditional distribution of food rations, the project provides assistance to families through ATMs and vouchers that can be redeemed for certain types of food –cereals, roots, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs and dairy products—at designated local shops. To qualify for assistance, participants must first participate on workshops to learn which types of food they can buy. This workshop is important for women because they learn how to mix the food they buy to maximize the nutritional impact on their families.
These new modalities will allow families to choose the place where they want to purchase food or redeem the vouchers for nutritional products.
An expected result is the improved nutritional status of Ecuadorian and Colombian families, especially children, at northern border. For WFP, women are a priority in this project, especially pregnant and lactating women and under 2-year-old children.
The voucher system will ensure that the exchange is solely for the purchase of food for a nutritious and balanced diet. The supermarket records will allow WFP to track the types of food participants exchange for their vouchers. It is understood that thanks to the nutrition workshop, participants will buy nutritious and healthy food for their families.
The scope of this initiative goes beyond the northern border of Ecuador. An important component of this project is to evaluate what works best. WFP works with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to schedule an evaluation of this project in September 2011. After the recommendations of this assessment, WFP and the Government of Ecuador expect to incorporate these food assistance modalities in other projects in the country.