Monday, September 11, 2017

Cash for food

The Socialist Party in its analysis of hunger has always maintained that in most cases of famine it was not a shortage of food that caused the problem but a shortage of money. We maintained that there was usually ample food in the markets but people could not afford to buy it and therefore suffered from hunger. 

This is being confirmed in Somalia. The UN’s Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) instead of sending out massive aid packages, distributed cash vouchers to families who could spend it to buy goods according to their needs.

The new ways of sending out money were many. The most popular one, he told IPS, was the use of an electronic voucher called a SCOPE card. Funded by the World Food Programme, these cards could be easily used in all local stores that quickly became handy with the new form of payment. The cards, much like debit cards, were recharged with money, and could be swiped to check out items from local stores.
Other vouchers, like “water vouchers” directly targeted specific supplies. Still other vouchers, like those that came with a cash-for-work incentive, put more people to work to build the local infrastructure, the lack of which often impeded work, in exchange for money. Slowly, Somalis began shaping the economy.
Cash enables affected people to choose and buy from local shops, having the double impact of both assisting persons and supporting the local economy. In a country where nearly 73 percent used mobile money, SIM cards loaded with money were distributed.

The average amount of money, adjusted to inflation rates or other circumstances, was calculated by a measure called the minimum expenditure basket (MEB). In the month of July, this money was billed to 89 dollars for every household. 75 per cent of the money was used on food, and the rest was used to buy household items. Some even used the money to pay off small loans.

The Socialist Party considers there is an easier and more direct way of alleviating hunger  - to each according to needs.

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