WFP is implementing an innovative pilot voucher project in three refugee camps in Burundi with a view to replacing the traditional general food distribution method of providing assistance to refugees in camps.
Serugo Muhorana (27) is sitting among a crowd of unusually quiet people. They are carefully listening to a man who is calling names using a loudspeaker. Finally it is Serugo’s turn. He stands up and walks towards a group sitting around a table with piles of paper in front of them. There, he is given a number of small pieces of coloured paper, then goes to sit among another bunch of waiting people.
“Here, we are given vouchers and we wait to be escorted to the market down there”, he says, pointing to a white tented warehouse.
Serugo Muhorana lives with his elder brother’s family in the refugee camp of Musasa, northern Burundi. He fled his hometown of Bwegera following the escalation of violence in eastern DR Congo in 2007.
For the past five years, he has lived in the camp and eaten WFP food.
“Each month, WFP trucks used to come and deliver food here in the camp,” he says. “Each household was given maize flour, beans, oil and CSB.”
The food delivery system has now changed: the refugees are now given vouchers to be exchanged for an amount of food that depends on family size. This is done at food fairs organized by WFP and its partners in the camp. The new system seems to be going down well.
Three refugee camps
“We now have a choice between varied food commodities,” says Serugo. “Before we used to eat rice only on Christmas, but now we can have it whenever we like.”
The voucher operation is a pilot project implemented by WFP in three refugee camps in Burundi. It was funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Office for an initial period of three months. WFP is working on mobilizing new funds so that the project can continue.
Serugo collects his package and heads home. On the way, he meets Jolie, a young lady living in Serugo’s neighborhood.
“Hey Jolie, why didn’t you come to help me carry the food today?” he asks.
“Oh, I was not around. Is it heavy? Did you buy too much today?” she asks in turn.
“It’s enough and not too heavy, thank God,” he says with a smile and walks away.