WFP Burkina Faso Begins Cash Transfers For Malian Refugees

WFP is piloting a cash transfer scheme for Malian refugees in Burkina Faso – the first activity of its kind for Malian refugees in West Africa.  

OUAGADOUGOU – On 21 August, WFP carried out its first distribution of cash transfers for Malian refugees at Saag-nioniogo, just outside of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. The activity is in its pilot phase and is to be expanded to the town of Bobo-Dioulasso and the two largest refugee sites in Burkina Faso’s Sahel Region.

Refugees receive a combination of both food and cash. The food basket that they received previously has been partially reduced with refugees receiving half rations of rice, beans and Supercereal (a fortified corn soya blend) while maintaining complete rations of oil and salt. For the food removed, refugees will instead receive the equivalent of US$ 7 per month.

“We hope that this activity will allow the refugees to have a more diverse and culturally appropriate diet while simultaneously supporting the local market,” said WFP Burkina Faso Deputy Director Mamadou Diouf.

Before the distribution, an awareness session took place with the heads of the refugees groups alongside the organizations working to provide support to the refugees including WFP, UNHCR, the Burkinabé Red Cross, the NGO IEDA Relief, and the Burkinabé Refugee Council. This exercise allowed WFP and its partners to explain to the refugees the reasons for the change in ration and to provide precise explanations on how the new process would work.

“This money will enable me to give my children breakfast and to buy milk, meat and firewood,” said Soumaila Soulama, a mother of five children, who received 21,000 CFA (US$ 42).

Over two days, US$ 20,000 was distributed to the refugees, a huge injection of cash into the local economy, which will make its way to the market traders in Ouagadougou and also the inhabitants of the villages surrounding the camp.

On the distribution day, two women sat waiting with two empty buckets. Within a few hours, they had sold all their milk.

“The refugees bought milk from us on credit and now we are waiting for them to get their money at the distribution and repay us,” said Aissatou Diallo, one of the women. “Business is good.”

The cost of food on the markets will be closely monitored so that the cash distributed remains adequate. Two weeks following the distribution, a monitoring exercise will be carried out to evaluate how the cash distributed was spent and what impact it had on the beneficiaries. The results from this evaluation will allow WFP to expand the activity into other refugee sites in Burkina Faso and to make the required adjustments.

This innovative activity was made possible through a generous contribution from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO).