Pontus Marine LTD- Leader of fishing industry in Somaliland

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Innovating assistance programs in Somalia

(Medeshi)- Reliefweb - In February, Somalia became the second country in the world where WFP has launched its groundbreaking new system for managing assistance programmes, a platform known as SCOPE.
The SCOPE information system allows WFP to monitor and control all its distributions of food, cash and vouchers electronically and in near real time. SCOPE also allows WFP to register beneficiaries, store information on the amount of food or money they are entitled to and – in the case of cash or vouchers – transfer the specific amount onto the cards. There was a buzz of anticipation as the first SCOPE transfer cards were handed out.

BOSSASO – The conference room bustles as 150 young people are chatting and giggling nervously. A sense of excitement fills the air.

The youth – who come from internally displaced and other vulnerable families – are all enrolled in a vocational skills training programme implemented by WFP in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council in the port city of Bossaso, in Puntland, northern Somalia. The programme teaches the youth marketable skills like tailoring, tie-dying of clothes, carpentry or electronics, which will help them find jobs and earn sustainable incomes to support their families.

Among the many young men and women in the audience is 22-year old Qadra. Wearing a long black robe and shiny headscarf, Qadra dressed up for the occasion. She is about to be among the first people in Somalia to receive the World Food Programme’s new electronic transfer card.

This was the scene at a ceremony in Bossaso on 11 February 2015, when Somalia became the second country worldwide (after Bangladesh) where WFP launched its innovative new assistance management platform, known as SCOPE. The SCOPE information system allows WFP to manage all its transfers – including in-kind food distributions in places where food is not available, as well as cash and voucher transfers in places where markets are functioning – electronically and in near real time. SCOPE also allows WFP to register beneficiaries, store information on the amount of food or money they are entitled to and – in the case of cash or vouchers – transfer the specific amount onto the cards.

“These cards are the start of a new era for WFP’s assistance in Puntland,” said Puntland’s Minister of Interior Ahmed Elmi Osman. “For me, they are a social safety net that will give the beneficiaries the confidence that even in times of shocks, they will be able to meet their food needs and access assistance when they need it.”

WFP has started providing the new e-transfer cards to people in all of the agency’s programmes in Somalia, including relief, nutrition, livelihoods and safety net activities such as school meals. A tiny golden chip on the e-transfer cards stores a fingerprint to ensure that it can only be used by the person to whom it’s been issued – which, among other things, protects the beneficiary against theft of the card. In a high-risk environment like Somalia the new e-transfer cards will be crucial in increasing security and safety of transfers.

“Using the SCOPE cards makes duplications impossible and gives us the assurance that our programmes reach exactly those people they are intended for,” explained WFP Country Director Laurent Bukera. “It also helps us better tailor or programmes to peoples’ needs by giving us valuable information about when people use the cards, what they buy with the money they receive and where they shop for food,” he added.

Together with the new SCOPE system, WFP also introduced an extended list of items that beneficiaries can choose from when they go shopping with their vouchers.

“We now have a list of 20 items to pick from. There are even fresh vegetables and different types of meats. All prices have been negotiated between WFP and the shop owners beforehand to make sure we can buy enough to meet our families’ needs,” explains Qadra as she waits at the counter of one of the three retails shops participating in the innovative programme.

For the 3.6 kilogrammes of vegetable oil Qadra bought that day, US$11 was deducted from her card, leaving her with a balance of just over US$90.

The amount of money Qadra receives is based on thorough market price assessments, which determine how much she and the other people in Bossaso require to cover their families’ monthly food needs. What to buy with this money and when is now Qadra’s choice.