BANGUI, Central African Republic — On Mar. 19, 2015, the World Food Program launched the food voucher program in the Central African Republic. This program plans to support the 1.2 million people who are victims of the extremist violence and conflict occurring across the country.
The food vouchers are valued at $10. They will be provided along with the regular food distribution of rice, pulses and oil. Food vouchers are highly beneficial for the recipients for various reasons. Firstly, the vouchers instill a sense of independence. Families can purchase goods that they would normally purchase, such as milk. Secondly, food vouchers support local business owners and farmers, which leads to supporting the economic development and security in the area. Lastly, food vouchers reduce the costs for the shipment and handling of food brought into the country. It is difficult and costly to import and distribute food throughout a country experiencing instability.
The food voucher program is only available in cases where merchants are selling their products and goods despite insecurity. Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, is the first city to implement the program. Over the next six months the program will be implemented in other cities.
The cash and food voucher program has been successfully implemented in other countries where poverty is common and businesses are unable to grow. For example, in Pimampiro, Ecuador, The Tierra del Sol Association is an organization of women farmers who were unable to sell their products at a price that supported their livelihood. The World Food Program teamed with The Tierra del Sol Association for food vouchers. As a result, the association grew and simultaneously supported Colombians and Ecuadorians who were at the forefront of poverty and conflict.
– Courteney Leinonen