World Food Programme voucher rollout pushed to next month

Cash vouchers that the World Food Programme (WFP) intended to implement to provide relief to some Hurricane Dorian survivors on Abaco have been delayed to January 2020, a representative has confirmed.

“We are in the process now of doing a sensitization campaign with the population that were initially assessed in November, to prepare them for the rollout, the distribution of the cards and all the details about the program,” WFP Programme Officer Luca Ventura said yesterday.

“We are confident that by the end of next week, we’ll be able to start the distribution of the vouchers, hopefully. Of course there are still some little minor things to figure out – how to do the distribution, and when and where exactly.

“But if everything goes well, we are this week focusing on the sensitization campaign, then we will start the distribution and the vouchers will be activated let’s say from the beginning of January to the end of February.”

Late last month, WFP announced it was in the process of introducing a value-based voucher which would be distributed to households demonstrating need on Abaco by mid-December as it scaled back its operations. WFP Deputy Emergency Coordinator Doug Mercado said the vouchers were so that residents could have more choice in terms of food, and that the organization was in the process of carrying out door-to-door assessments while also negotiating with Maxwell’s supermarket.

Confirming that operations have scaled back to just one office on Abaco now, Ventura told The Nassau Guardian yesterday that the delay in the program’s implementation was due to the assessment process taking longer than expected. He noted that while the organization is still completing its analysis, it expects “about between 450 to 500 households” all throughout Abaco and its cays to receive the vouchers.

He also stated that negotiations have yet to be completed, but are ongoing.

“All the analysis of the data took longer than expected but we are trying to ‘push push’ to finalize the preparation phase, and of course we want the people to be fully informed about what are the schedules and et cetera,” Ventura said.

He added, “The supermarket agreed to it and we are still negotiating minor things. The authorities are updated about that. With them we still have to do a couple of meetings to finalize the details, but we are working with the league of pastors and the other representatives of the communities that are involved; with our partner of course which is Samaritan’s Purse, which will directly implement this program.”

However, he also said that the information campaign “already started”, and stated that: “I think we’ll produce a little bit during the Christmas days because the schedule wants to finish by this coming week, so let’s say the 27th, 28th and 29th. Then once we have all the people informed we are going to invite the people for the receiving of the vouchers.”

The amount of each voucher will vary based on household size and need, according to Mercado.

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