Technology makes life easier for families in Djibouti

How mobile money is helping the most vulnerable people shop for the food they need.

Miguel Tomas
Sep 18, 2017 · 2 min read
Neima and her family are one of 4,000 families being supported under the new programme. Photo: WFP/Miguel Tomas

Djibouti is the least developed and most food deficit country in the Horn of Africa. Despite recent economic growth, relative poverty in the country stands at 79 percent, with 42 percent of its population living in extreme poverty.

39 year-old Neima lives in Djibouti Ville with her husband Amir and their six children. She confesses that her husband’s monthly income of 30,000 DJF (US$ 170) is not sufficient to provide regular balanced meals to her family.

“Life is difficult for us, especially now, at the start of a new school year, when we have to buy school supplies for our children,” she explains. “ But the help from WFP and the Government has come at the right time for us and now I can at least buy rice, milk and sugar for them.”

At the beginning of September, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Djiboutian Social Affairs secretariat (SEAS) launched a food assistance project as part of its social protection-related activities to help vulnerable families.

Over 4,000 families in the poorest districts of Djibouti will receive monthly cash transfers via their mobile phones, which they can use to buy food. WFP is increasingly providing cash-based transfers in places where food is available in the markets, but lack of income prevents vulnerable families from accessing it.

Beneficiaries are registered using biometrics (fingerprint and photo) to ensure accountability. Photo: WFP/Miguel Tomas

Through the collaboration between SEAS and WFP, Neima was able to enter the social register, which will also enable her to benefit from other social assistance.

“With what we have as income we can no longer afford the room in which we live and we have to leave this month, so I hope that SEAS can help us to find another home,” says Neima. “For now my husband is working temporarily in a clothes store. When we have saved enough money our dream is to open our own store.”

The mobile money can be redeemed at over 52 selected retailers in the most vulnerable districts of the city. Photo: WFP/Miguel Tomas

The amount of money Neima receives is based on thorough market price assessments, which determine how much she and the other people in Djibouti require to cover their families’ monthly food needs. What to buy with this money and when is now Neima’s choice.

Learn more about WFP’s work in Djibouti

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store