Innovation in Somalia: Launch of E-Transfer Cards in Bossaso
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The conference room bustles as 150 young people are chatting and giggling nervously. A sense of excitement fills the air.
The youth – who come from internally displaced and other vulnerable families – are all enrolled in a vocational skills training programme implemented by WFP in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council in the port city of Bossaso, in Puntland, northern Somalia. The programme teaches the youth marketable skills like tailoring, tie-dying of clothes, carpentry or electronics, which will help them find jobs and earn sustainable incomes to support their families.
Among the many young men and women in the audience is 22-year old Qadra. Wearing a long black robe and shiny headscarf, Qadra dressed up for the occasion. She is about to be among the first people in Somalia to receive the World Food Programme’s new electronic transfer card.
This was the scene at a ceremony in Bossaso on 11 February 2015, when Somalia became the second country worldwide (after Bangladesh) where WFP launched its innovative new assistance management platform, known as SCOPE. The SCOPE information system allows WFP to manage all its transfers – including in-kind food distributions in places where food is not available, as well as cash and voucher transfers in places where markets are functioning – electronically and in near real time. SCOPE also allows WFP to register beneficiaries, store information on the amount of food or money they are entitled to and – in the case of cash or vouchers – transfer the specific amount onto the cards.
“These cards are the start of a new era for WFP’s assistance in Puntland,” said Puntland’s Minister of Interior Ahmed Elmi Osman. “For me, they are a social safety net that will give the beneficiaries the confidence that even in times of shocks, they will be able to meet their food needs and access assistance when they need it.”
WFP has started providing the new e-transfer cards to people in all of the agency’s programmes in Somalia, including relief, nutrition, livelihoods and safety net activities such as school meals. A tiny golden chip on the e-transfer cards stores a fingerprint to ensure that it can only be used by the person to whom it’s been issued – which, among other things, protects the beneficiary against theft of the card. In a high-risk environment like Somalia the new e-transfer cards will be crucial in increasing security and safety of transfers.