The United Nations food relief agency has begun distributing vouchers to assist nearly 120,000 people living in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, with plans to reach one million people across the country by the end of 2016.
Each food voucher provides a family of six with a one-month supply of wheat grain, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and sugar as well as Wheat Soya Blend (WSB) – a protein-rich blended food provided by the World Food Programme (WFP) through the local supplier, the agency said today in a press release.
Oum Ahmed, who moved to Sana’a with her family after her neighbourhood was destroyed by airstrikes eight months ago, now clean people’s homes to be able to feed her children. “I was very happy when they gave me this voucher with my name on it,” she told WFP.
The voucher scheme will speed up the delivery of food assistance in Yemen, enabling WFP to reach vulnerable people faster through a local retailer who will supply food commodities to families in exchange for vouchers, as well as help revive commercial activities and markets in the country.
“Food vouchers ensure the rapid and regular delivery of assistance across Yemen to families who rely almost entirely on external assistance to secure their essential food needs, and also boost the local economy as we work with local suppliers to provide food to vulnerable people,” said WFP Representative and Country Director Purnima Kashyap.
The United Kingdom has contributed £5.9 million ($8.6 million), through its aid agency, to fund the programme.
WFP will gradually replace conventional food distributions with voucher assistance in areas where markets are functioning. By the end of 2016, WFP aims to reach one million with food vouchers.
The conflict has worsened Yemen’s already poor food security situation, adding more than three million people to the ranks of the hungry in less than a year. According to the UN’s 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview, 7.6 million people in Yemen are severely food insecure – a level requiring urgent, external, food assistance.