Food Vouchers – a new initiative to fight hunger in Chad

24/10/2013 – Chad is a low-income, food-deficit country, ranked 184 of 187 countries on the 2012 UNDP Human Development Index. In large parts of the country poverty is at the heart of food-insecurity rather than a lack of food in the local markets.

This is why, following market and vulnerability analyses, the World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with ACTED and Intermon Oxfam, are using €400 000 of ECHO funding to introduce a food-voucher pilot project. Whilst ECHO and WFP have already carried out such projects in many of the 30 or so countries where they work together, this will be the first time such a project is carried out in Chad.

A total of 22 000 food-insecure people living in two regions of Chad’s arid Sahel belt (Guera and Batha) are targeted by this project. Despite the fact that local markets are functioning, a high number of poor households are facing food insecurity, due to their inability to purchase food.

How it works

Each beneficiary household receives a monthly mobile scratch card with a PIN code worth approximately €30. Thanks to WFP’s implementing partner – Tigo mobile network – beneficiaries are able to exchange this scratch card for a food basket jointly defined by the community and approved merchants.The merchants are then able to recover the value of the food basket using their mobile phone.

Khayar Chiguefe, one the first beneficiaries of this project said: “I am very satisfied with this new type of food distribution since we receive local products that are part of our regular diet”. Khayar, a widow and mother of 8 children, is one of the 4 400 heads of household who have been identified to receive the vouchers on behalf of their families. Voucher projects are often preferred to traditional food assistance by local communities as they offer more choice in food and allow them to maintain their regular food diet.

An added value of voucher projects is that when beneficiaries buy from local traders, they also support the local economy.

This pilot project will prepare WFP to implement a larger voucher intervention targeting a greater geographical area and more beneficiaries in 2014.

Vincent Paulger, World Food Programme