Kabul – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has today signed a letter of agreement to support a new cash voucher project in partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD) in Kabul. The project is designed to help the urban poor cope with high food prices.
WFP will contribute US$3 million over a six-month period, which will enable food assistance through monthly cash vouchers to extremely vulnerable urban households in Kabul. In addition to offices space and project supervisory staff, MoLSAMD will provide four locations to be used as voucher distribution centres at a total cost of about US$40,000. The first distributions will start in mid January 2012.
“We are launching this project after the successful implementation of similar programmes in other Afghan cities where it has had a positive impact on household food security,” said WFP Deputy Country Director Bradley Guerrant. “We are very happy to be working in partnership with MoLSAMD to help contain the impact of high food prices on the Afghan urban poor.”
Some 18,900 households (about 113,000 individuals), consisting mainly of poor women and households headed by the disabled, will benefit from the project. Each monthly voucher is worth 1,250 Afghanis, or about US$25, and can be exchanged for food items in selected local shops.
WFP Afghanistan has increased the use of cash vouchers in its food assistance programmes in areas where food is widely available on local markets. In addition to Kabul, WFP is currently implementing voucher projects in Mazar, Hirat and Jalalabad cities.
For poor families, the vouchers mean guaranteed access to food every month. Beyond that, the project also gives them the chance to choose which foods will best meet their families’ needs.
For local merchants, the vouchers are creating thousands of new customers, most of whom previously had difficulties affording to buy food in their shops.
Traditionally, most of WFP’s work in Afghanistan has been in highly food-insecure rural areas. The voucher project is part of an urban safety net programme aimed at helping the urban poor, who are particularly vulnerable to high food prices.