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Food Assistance for Displaced Myanmar Nationals VoucherModality

Start project:
  • 2019
  • World Renew
  • Gana Unnayan Kendra

62,276 individuals of displaced Myanmar nationals will be benefited by this project through voucher modality in Camp 14, 16, Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh for 5 months . The project will end in June 2019. ICCO Cooperation is leading the project with implementing partner GUK.

Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest and most densely populated countries, has witnessed an unprecedented influx of Rohingya refugees arriving from Myanmar. Since August 25, 2017, over 700,000 Rohingyas crossed the border (ISCG Situation report, 15 November 2018), adding to the existing Rohingya population of more than 200,000 in Cox’s Bazar (CXB). More than 80% of Rohingya rely on in-kind food distribution from WFP as their primary source for sustenance. Ration provisions of lentils, rice and oil are not made with sufficient consideration of the Rohingya pre-displacement consumption patterns. There is a lack of understanding on how to prepare and cook food items, such as lentils which are not traditionally eaten by the Rohingya and are commonly associated with stomach problems. Restrictions on cash handling, means that access to supplementary nutritional items is a significant issue for the Rohingya. Food security and nutrition (FNS), especially for children, women and the elderly is a major concern. Not eating the lentils exacerbates the lack of dietary diversity (especially fresh food). Irregular monthly distributions at a maximum of twice a month, along with no proper understanding of storage practices in the camp setting means that food is often contaminated by mould.
A December 2018 WFP report identified that the majority of Rohingya households have been able to maintain their food consumption status since the beginning of 2018, this is mainly due to the provision of sustained food assistance by WFP. However, there has been a deterioration of dietary diversity patterns for Rohingya households. Improvements have been seen where a transition from in-kind food distribution to distribution through an e-voucher modality has occurred.
WFP have set their 2019 strategic objective to maintain/enhance individual and household access to food and nutrition for the Rohingya refugees. WFP is expanding the e-voucher modality that would give access to 17 food items to include majority of refugee caseload by mid-2019. Currently, more than 214,000 refugees (including the 34,000 registered refugees) receive assistance through e-vouchers. Each refugee household receives approximately USD 9 per person per month to purchase from a selection of 17 food items from a network of 8 assistance outlets. WFP is building 14 more assistance outlets to enable the modality transition.

Summary Situation Assessment:
For many years there has been concern about the health of encamped refugees, particularly those in protracted situations who have neither the option to return home nor the support and opportunity to live in health and productivity in the country of asylum. While emergency operations can garner international focus and donations, protracted refugee situations are often incredible resource drains, demanding support for large populations to live under a care and maintenance situations year after year. Unfortunately, the nutrition and livelihood needs of refugees in protracted situations are often no less complex and extensive than refugees in an acute emergency. If refugees are encamped, with restrictions placed on their movement and access to livelihood activities, the high level of dependency that marked the initial emergency will continue year after year. While there is a common expectation among assisting agencies that refugees will need less attention, food and support as the years go on, the reality is actually to the contrary. Stop-gap measures to assist refugees in the short term, such as basic food baskets that barely meet an individual’s kilo-calorie needs, end up being costly both in terms of impact on child development, ill-health, and the burden of disease and disability.

In Food security, assessments show 80%+ of the refugees are vulnerable to food insecurity, and of the Rohingya arrivals since August 2017, 58% are highly vulnerable to food insecurity. 91% access food only through humanitarian actors (WFP REVA, Nov-Dec, 2017). WFP currently reaches 952,714 refugees through in kind distribution and e-vouchers.

The current in-kind WFP food basket comprises of rice, lentils and oil, with the amount received dependant on household size. While this food basket should provide 2,100kc per individual; this is only a reality if a household size is the mean of each household category. The table below demonstrates this food gap.

Proposed Response:
WFP strategy for food assistance in the Rohingya camps for 2019 is to move from in-kind distributions to food assistance through an e-voucher modality that offers a more diversified food basket. The roll out of this modality is being done in coordination with food security partners who are working with WFP to fill gaps while they scale to cover the whole camp by July 2019. ICCO is one of these existing partners. We currently provide food assistance using a voucher modality within camp 16 with funding from the Dutch Relief Agency, a rapid relief fund. We want to extend this project to June 2019 to provide fuller coverage of the WFP gap. We propose a scale up this intervention to cover camp 14, and two blocks of camp 15 based on a request from WFP and camp level government authorities.
Our proposed response is to work with our current implementing partner, GUK to provide monthly paper vouchers equivalent to cash value to all households in the targeted camps. Voucher value depends on household size; households with more than 7 members receive vouchers with cash value of 1170 BDT per month, and households with fewer than 7 members receive vouchers equivalent to 830 BDT per month. Households can spend these vouchers on 14 preselected items in pre-stipulated market shops within the camp boundaries. The 14 items have been selected by WFP base on availability, beneficiary preference and nutritional benefits. These items are sugar, iodized salt, milk, onions, garlic, dried fish, egg, fresh spinach, eggplant, potato, turmeric powder, chili powder, dry red chili, and green chili. Voucher holders can choose how many of each item they buy with their vouchers.

Project Updates

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Micro gardening was a remarkable program besides the fresh food distribution among the Host Community under the DRR JR2 Phase-II project. To serve the purpose and made the program successful, GUK supported the beneficiaries in different ways. They have received basic training on it and after the training, 7 types of vegetable seeds and different materials are provided among them. Compost, bamboo, bag, thread, water jar, boam and net are remarkable among the materials. In the session, the facilitators focus and point out regarding food and nutrition so that the trainees might understand the significance of food and nutrition and build up awareness among them. 1150 family of the Host community are getting benefits through the program.

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