WFP continued to support vulnerable Syrians living in and outside camps through its e-food card programme. In January, WFP reached 156,345 people in eleven camps in the southeast of Turkey, as well as 59,666 people outside camps in the provinces of Hatay, Gaziantep,
Sanliurfa, Kilis and Kahramanmaras.
WFP is working closely with its strategic partner the Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) to significantly expand assistance to vulnerable Syrians with a view to support up to 735,000 people in 2016, contingent upon funding. WFP and TRC are closely coordinating these efforts with the Government of Turkey.
WFP provides food assistance to vulnerable Syrian refugees through an e-food card programme jointly implemented with the Turkish Red Crescent (TRC/Kizilay). Assisted populations can redeem their electronic food voucher for nutritious food items at contracted supermarkets.
In October 2012, following an initial voucher feasibility study, WFP, together with its implementing partner TRC, launched the e-food card to meet the food needs of an initial population of 12,000 Syrians in Kilis camp. The programme progressively expanded to reach 220,000 people in 21 camps by June, 2014. In February 2015, owing to regional funding shortfalls, WFP was forced to withdraw earlier than planned from 9 camps but continued to operate the e-food card with TRC in 11 camps. In the 9 camps, where WFP withdrew, AFAD stepped in to continue the assistance. Today, WFP continues assisting approximately 150,000 Syrians inside camps.
In 2015, WFP and TRC started assistance for Syrians living in host communities, a group with large needs but largely underserved. Between the beginning of the off-camp programme in July and the end of January, 59,666 Syrians received their WFP/TRC ecard.
In 2016, WFP plans to expand its off-camp programme beyond the South East to large urban areas with high concentration of Syrians, and to assist up to 735,000 Syrians (50 percent of camp population and 25 percent of the off camp population), contingent on funding.
The e-Food Card Programme marks the first instance in which WFP has used electronic vouchers at the onset of an emergency response. Electronic vouchers have since been instituted throughout the region. The programme has been highly successful in terms of beneficiary satisfaction, efficient use of limited resources and investment into the Turkish economy.
Beneficiaries appreciate the flexibility of being able to purchase nutritious and diverse food of their own choosing. Economically, the programme provides a high return on investment allowing for savings of over 70 percent in food assistance in comparison to the provision of hot meals. It also directly impacts local communities as people use their entitlements in shops that are owned, managed and supplied by local retailers. From the onset of the operation through January 2016, WFP has directly transferred over USD 150 million through the e-Food Card Programme.
Overall, 97 per cent of the assisted population has an acceptable food consumption score, demonstrating the efficiency of the programme. Dietary diversity is just as high. Monitoring also shows that 86 percent of women participated in shopping and decisions on how to use the WFP assistance.
In addition to transfers made through the e-food card programme, WFP has a standing history of large-scale procurement of commodities in Turkey to support the operations globally, including Syria and Iraq. Turkey is WFP’s top food commodity supplier with USD 1.1 billion worth of commodities procured there since 2011. Almost 60% of these commodities have been used for emergency food assistance within Syria and the region, including surrounding countries hosting refugees and WFP’s emergency response in Iraq.