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WFP And ECHO Start Cash Distributions To Somali Refugees In Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched its first cash distributions to refugees in Ethiopia this month, with the financial support of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).

More than 12,000 refugees started receiving monthly cash entitlements last week in addition to a monthly food allocation in a pilot project in Sheddar refugee camp in the Somali regional state capital of Jijiga.

“Our main aim is to find the best way to meet refugee needs,” said Dr. Johan Heffinck from ECHO Ethiopia. “Providing cash directly to people can be more effective, as well as empowering for the refugees, since it allows them decide for themselves what their families need most.”

WFP’s food assistance to vulnerable communities traditionally has been provided in the form of food rations. However, when conditions are right and the local market is responsive enough, WFP can use different tools such as cash or vouchers, which give people more choice and also benefit the local economy.

“The cash allows refugees to have more control in diversifying their diets, and they can buy milk, vegetables or pasta directly from the local market,” said Abdou Dieng, Country Director for WFP Ethiopia.

“This new initiative has been made possible thanks to excellent partnership,” Mr Dieng added, noting that it was a collaboration between the Government of Ethiopia, represented by the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), UNHCR and  the donor for this project, ECHO, which provided a contribution of 1 million Euros (USD 1,3 million).

Refugees at Sheddar camp are now receiving a monthly ration of 13.9 kilograms of food, including wheat, rice, pulses, corn-soya blend, oil, sugar and salt, as well as a cash allocation of 100 Ethiopian Birr (US$5) per person.

About 13,000 additional refugees will also start receiving cash in the same region in October. The pilot initiative will last until December 2013.

For more information please contact (email address:
WFP/Stephanie Savariaud, WFP/Ethiopia, cell. +251911201976