In Egypt, E-Vouchers Give Families Freedom Of Choice

In Egypt, students begin a new school year with their families already looking forward to WFP’s e-vouchers that were introduced last year. The vouchers replaced the traditional take-home monthly rations.

WFP monthly assistance to families is designed to encourage them to send their children to school regularly instead of sending them off to work at a young age. For vulnerable families, sending a child to school is an added economic burden. Families whose children's attendance rate is at least 80 percent each month, receive WFP food assistance to compensate for the income a child would have earned if sent to work. 

To give families better options, WFP is now assisting families through a new electronic voucher system. The vouchers are topped up every month and families use the vouchers at locally contracted retailers to buy groceries. The vouchers gives them the freedom to choose what they want according to their culinary preferences, needs and also convenience. They can make as many trips to the store as they need and are not tied to a certain time or limit except the value of the voucher.

Photo: WFP/ Yasmina ElHabbal

Families in Lower Egypt’s Beheira governorate, like Samia Awad’s, are accustoming themselves to WFP’s newly introduced electronic vouchers. Samia’s daughter Zahra has been attending the community school near their home for the past year. Previously, Zahra’s regular school attendance granted her family 10 kg of rice and one liter of oil every month. Now, she is able to choose from a list of food items in locally contracted retailers, such as cereals, lentils, dairy products, tuna and oil.They also give households 30 percent more food on average over the rations.

Photo: WFP/ Lobna Fatani

A father of five, Mohamed Abdel Latif is now able to go to a local retailer near his children’s school to redeem his voucher. With two children attending school, Mohamed’s voucher is topped up with EGP 200 (US$23) every month. He uses the voucher to get the various food items that his family needs.

Photo: WFP/ Lobna Fatani

The e-vouchers boost the local economy by injecting funds into the local market where vouchers get redeemed. After facing skepticism and reluctance from local retailers at the pilot phase of the project, more and more are now approaching WFP to join the project network.

Photo: WFP/ Yamina ElHabbal

WFP is implementing in Egypt school feeding in the majority of community schools in 18 of the most vulnerable governorates in the country. WFP also provides children with a daily healthy snack at school that covers 25 percent of a child’s daily nutritional needs. For some children, the school snack is the first thing they eat in any given day.

Photo: WFP/ Amina AlKorey

The electronic voucher system was first tested in June 2015 on a small scale in Lower Egypt’s Beheira and Upper Egypt’s Sohag governorates. It was an immediate success among families. More children were enrolling for the coming school year than ever before in most schools. Using EU funds, WFP scaled the programme up in May to reach almost 21,000 children and their families across six governorates.

Photo: WFP/ Lobna Fatani