For Palestinians, WFP Vouchers Mean More Than Food
Accompanied by two of her seven children, Manal is purchasing food through her vouchers in this local shop. High prices and low wages mean that the average household in Gaza spends more than half of their monthly income on food. Manal and her husband receive WFP food vouchers so they can feed their family.
During the holy month of Ramadan, WFP added special items to the voucher food assistance programme like dates, haleweh (sesame paste) and various kinds of salads; a staple during the fasting month. All products that can be redeemed through the food vouchers are produced locally in Palestine. Over the last three years, WFP invested more than US$100 million in the Palestinian economy through local purchases and the use of vouchers.
This is Ahmad, Manal’s 10-year-old son. Thanks to the voucher programme Ahmad’s diet has greater variety and includes more nutritious food. Besides the voucher programme, WFP Palestine also provides school meals to children in Gaza. Children receive a nutritious morning snack, which helps them to focus on their lessons.
A shop worker swipes an electronic food voucher through a terminal. The electronic voucher is an innovative tool that allows beneficiaries to buy the food items of their choice and preference and at the same time helps WFP track and monitor its programmes. The card reads ‘Sahtein’, which means ‘enjoy your meal’ in Arabic.
Manal and her son walk back to their home in Gaza with their groceries. The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world and is heavily affected by restrictions on trade, investment and the closure. The voucher assistance lends a sense of normalcy to many poor households who cannot afford the high food prices in the market.
Manal and her oldest daughter Ahlam prepare the traditional Ramadan Iftar meal for the whole family. They are serving Mjaddarah, a healthy and nutritious traditional dish using rice, lentils and beans. WFP food assistance always puts into consideration local tastes and preferences.
As soon as the sun sets, Manal and her family gather for the Iftar meal and end a long day of fasting. The ‘breaking the fast’ is an important and joyful family moment in Gaza.
Azmy, Manal’s husband, feeds his youngest son. Azmy’s job as a casual labourer in the construction sector in Gaza does not provide a stable income that is enough to feed his family. "Because of the voucher programme I can purchase basic and healthy food products for my family," he sayd. "When I go to the shop, I have a satisfying feeling that tells me I am able to take care of my family again. I really notice the improvement in their health.”
In the Gaza Strip, food insecurity levels are on the rise. In 2012, 71 percent of the households in Gaza were either food insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity. The World Food Programme (WFP) provides the most vulnerable households with food assistance. One way WFP provides assistance is through its innovative voucher programme. People that are part of this programme receive an electronic food voucher which they use to purchase locally-produced products in a neighborhood shop. This ensures vulnerable people have the food they need, and also support the local economy in Gaza.