Nyarugusu refugees get cash boost through mobile money

01Feb 2017
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Nyarugusu refugees get cash boost through mobile money

SOME 10,000 refugees living at Nyarugusu camp in Western Tanzania will start receiving cash in addition to food assistance as part of a three-month World Food Program pilot programme aimed at replacing the current system of material donations.

Nyarugusu refugees

The cash component is being funded by Canadian government through a $385,000 (over 700m/-) contribution to WFP. The UN good agency will provide 10,000/- twice monthly to each member of households through mobile money.

Michael Dunford, WFP Tanzania Country Representative said that for the duration of the new programme, refugees will continue receiving fortified vegetable oil and porridge blend while rations of maize meal, pulses and salt are replaced with cash.

Dunford said providing cash allows refugees freedom of choice in what to purchase while also injecting money into the local economy.

“The Nyarugusu Common Market, which opened this year in the buffer zone between the camp and host community, provides traders a space to sell their produce to refugees,” he said.

Canada said it is supporting WFP’s refugee operation in Tanzania while combining both food and cash assistance that gives women and men greater flexibility in meeting their needs and can also have a positive impact on the host community.

Ian Myles, High Commissioner of Canada in Tanzania said that before the launch of the cash programme, refugees were receiving only food assistance from WFP.

Myles said that the programme will be implemented in close collaboration with the Government of Tanzania, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and partners to assist some of the most vulnerable refugee households in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp.

More than a quarter of a million refugees are hosted in Tanzania in three camps in the northwest part of the country. The refugees, primarily from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are dependent on WFP assistance as their main source of food.

“Providing cash to refugees empowers them to make their own decisions on what food to buy and cook in their homes,” said Dunford adding that cash gives refugees the opportunity to access a wide variety of fresh foods, helping them to diversify their diet.

WFP aims to increase the number of refugees receiving cash in lieu of food assistance throughout 2017. Since the start of unrest in Burundi in April 2015, almost 190,000 Burundians have sought refuge in Tanzania.

Combined with the existing caseload of refugees, primarily from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania now hosts more than a quarter of a million refugees.

Hundreds of refugees continue to arrive every day from Burundi. WFP requires some $6 million per month to continue assisting the growing refugee population in 2017.

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