The power of ‘choice’
How cash assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP) has empowered Syrian refugees in Jordan
Abdelnaser is a Syrian refugee from Dara’a city who fled to Jordan five years ago with his wife and kids. Back in Syria, Abdelnaser used to work as a taxi driver in the mornings and as a tailor in the evenings to provide for his family.
When they first arrived in Jordan, the family moved to Zaatari camp and stayed there for three difficult months in the winter time, until they finally decided to move out and look for other opportunities in Jordan’s Madaba governorate.
Since moving to Madaba, WFP has been providing food assistance to Abdelnaser’s family through an electronic voucher (e-voucher) that can be used to buy food from local shops. Now, with the recent launch of WFP’s Choice programme, Abdelnaser can still use his e-voucher to buy food in shops, but he can also use it to withdraw cash from ATMs. Each member of Abdelnaser’s family receives US$28 per month for food. The availability of cash has helped more Syrians buy fresher products and better quality food.
“With cash, I can find the best deals in town and save more money. I am buying more food for less,” said Abdelnaser. “I really appreciate the flexibility and convenience of using cash.”
“We have been able to buy a wider variety of products and make use of them in different ways. For example, instead of buying expensive cheese at the supermarket, I now buy milk and make my own cheese at home,” says Rama, Abdelnaser’s wife.
Abdelnaser explained that he uses the cash to buy fresh products such as fruits and vegetables from nearby street vendors and the WFP e-voucher to buy staple food items like rice and oil from WFP shops. Having the option to shop at nearby stores rather than making a longer journey to reach WFP shops also means he can save money on transportation costs.
Thanks to the generous contribution from the government of Germany, WFP has extended the Choice programme to refugees in Jordan’s Madaba, Balqa and Zarqa governorates.