Palestine: Innovation, Partnerships And 'One Card' To Assist Those In Need

Hanan is a Palestinian woman from Gaza. With the 'One Card' Hanan can buy nutritious food at local shops. But this card is used for much more: people can buy water, hygiene products and even school uniforms for children. It makes life easier - it's all on one card. 

Cash-based transfers continue to grow steadily – in 2014 they represented 30% of WFP's total assistance, compared to 20% in 2013. Meanwhile, WFP is finding innovative ways to put its expertise to use with other humanitarian partners, and in service of more vulnerable people.

‘One Card' in Palestine is an example of how WFP is creating meaningful partnerships. More and more governments and humanitarian actors are using WFP's contracted service providers – such as banks, mobile operators, or remittance companies – to distribute cash-based transfers. WFP has a client orientation when working with partners, listening to their needs and providing a cost effective service for their programmes.

A Palestinian woman holding a One Card
Photo:WFP/Eyad Al Baba

Since early 2014, WFP and the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA) have together reached 45,000 UNRWA beneficiaries in the West Bank with One Card which provides access to food at local shops. WFP provides its expertise in cash-based transfers, as well as its network of shops and services, while UNRWA maintains the overall responsibility and mandate for reaching Palestinian refugees.

When the Gaza conflict broke out in July 2014, WFP also joined forces with UNICEF to implement preparedness measures, providing more than 84,000 people with One Card for food, water, soap and other hygiene products from local shops. An additional 30 shops were included in the network to ensure the greatest geographical coverage.

During the 51 days of the conflict, 95 percent of all funds made available through the cards were redeemed at participating shops – a clear sign that assistance reached those who needed it. After the conflict, WFP and UNICEF added an education component to the card for 42,000 students to redeem school uniforms and shoes. One Card served beneficiaries from three different emergency clusters – Education, Food and WASH, water sanitation and hygiene. 

"One Card in Palestine is an example of meaningful partnerships, making WFP the ‘go to' agency for any organization that uses cash-based transfers." Daniela Owen, WFP Palestine's Country Director

Two Palestinian women talking in a supermarket
Photo: WFP/Colin Kampschoer

In addition to UNRWA and UNICEF, One Card is currently used by a number of partners including the Palestinian Authority (PA), and NGOs Oxfam GB, Médecins du Monde and HelpAge International. As part of the PA's Social Safety Net system, WFP provides One Card for food assistance to people who are registered through the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Together with Oxfam GB, WFP has started a One Card assistance, providing more than 5,000 people in Gaza with One Card for hygiene products until the end of 2015. Moreover, with Médecins du Monde, essential hygiene products were also provided through One Card to more than 9,000 people in Gaza in 2015, while HelpAge International supported the specific needs of 2,800 elderly people in Gaza. 

In the words of Palestine's Country Director Daniela Owen: "One Card in Palestine is an example of meaningful partnerships, making WFP the ‘go to' agency for any organization that uses cash-based transfers".

How does it work?

To implement this One Card approach, WFP extends its existing contracts with service providers to include the needs of its humanitarian partners, and then manages their funds transparently and separately through a specific financial structure called a ‘Special Account'.

Beneficiaries receive just One Card, which they can use to redeem food, or non-food items, in a network of vetted local shops equipped with an electronic terminal, similar to a credit card machine, where people swipe their card to redeem the items.

The One Card approach builds on the existing contracts that WFP already has in place with local shops and producers, and can be quickly adapted to provide other types of items, or to include humanitarian partners in case of emergencies.

While WFP puts at disposal its know-how and technical systems in cash-based management, partners can contribute in different ways - by providing funds to be disbursed, identifying beneficiaries, items, or monitoring beneficiaries after the assistance is provided. 

by Colin Kampschoer and Alessandra D'Angelo

If you want to know more about what WFP is doing in the country please visit our Palestine country page.