Frontline Stories

What happens when food becomes digital?


Our partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has saved and changed countless lives around the globe.

WFP brings food assistance to over 80 million people in 80 countries. By providing the most basic human need in the most challenging of situations, areas hit by disaster or conflict, families can survive.

One of the reasons why it is such an effective means of support is that, every US$1 you donate to the WFP we can turn into US$23 worth of food. That is almost double what it was a couple of years ago.

How do we halve our costs?

Distributing food is a big job that involves a lot of moving parts, including stock-taking, storage, transport and protection. We have been trialling a cashless system project for Syrian and Iraqi refugee families, where they receive a card similar to a bank debit card. Funds are automatically loaded onto the card each month and can be used at the local markets. Using the card reduces costs as World Vision staff no longer have to store or distribute food items, saving time and money.

The cards also reduce costs through its new data system (LMMS) which digitise and simplify registration, verification, distribution planning and management, monitoring and reporting. The data system also makes it easier for beneficiaries who cannot read to access food.

The cashless system has not only reduced costs but also empowered recipients through:
•  the opportunity to choose their own food and in some cases other non-food items
•  the dignity of purchasing their own food
•  the flexibility of when to make their purchase

The local economy has also benefited as markets have increased business and more cash enters the economy.

In Lebanon alone, the voucher system benefited over 800,000 people. The new system now successfully operates in Mozambique, Nepal, Iraq and Jordan with further expansion plans underway.

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