At the end of March, WFP began the first large-scale distributions of food vouchers to respond quickly and effectively to the growing humanitarian needs of people that have fled the Central African Republic (CAR).
WFP plans to provide vouchers to 53,000 people -- both refugees from Central African Republic and Chadian families who had been living in CAR but have now returned, in order to escape the widespread violence. In total, more than 90,000 people have crossed the border between the two countries.
Most of the arrivals are Chadian. They need immediate assistance because they no longer have ties to their native country and do not benefit from a strong support system. In addition, they are arriving in areas already struggling with the threat of hunger.
“We fled CAR in a hurry with nothing and arrived in Chad very worried. But when we arrived at the transit sites, we discovered that WFP was distributing vouchers. Now we have less to worry about. At least we know that our children won’t go to bed hungry,” says a father of six children in the Doyaba transit center.
Vouchers for food
Beneficiaries receive vouchers that can be exchanged for certain food items at participating shops. WFP works with NGOs and store owners at the different sites to facilitate these exchanges.
The first distribution, which took place in the South of Chad, covered needs for one month and went very well. Families appreciated being able to choose what to buy and where to buy it. There are several stores that they can visit, according to their preferences and needs.
When local markets are sufficiently stocked, vouchers are an excellent way of responding quickly to humanitarian needs. Trucking in food supplies in the traditional way can take a long time, especially when roads are blocked or there are other logistical obstacles.
WFP plans to continue using this form of assistance to support a range of vulnerable people in 2014. they will include Chadian families that struggle to find enough nutritious food during the 'lean season' during the summer.
The situation remains serious, officials note. WFP urgently requires new funds to purchase supplies and continue the voucher programme in the south of Chad.