WFP Launches First Mobile Cash Transfers For Humanitarian Assistance In Myanmar
YANGON – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched the first pilot programme using mobile cash transfers for humanitarian assistance in Myanmar. Between 27 February and 1 March, 112 conflict-affected internally displaced families in three camps in Myitkyina Township of Kachin State received a monthly electronic credit allocation of MMK 9,000 (US$ 7) per person for vulnerable households and MMK 13,000 (US$ 10) per person for the most vulnerable households on their phone to be used at local shops. The recipients had previously received this amount in banknotes.
“When food is available in the markets, WFP provides cash assistance rather than disributing food,” explained WFP Country Director Dom Scalpelli. “Using mobile phones to transfer money can make the process faster, safer and more convenient for the recipients – especially in a context like Myanmar where the telecommunications industry is developing every day.”
A further 172 families – bringing the total to 284 households or 1,400 people – will receive mobile cash transfers under the “e-wallet” scheme in March. WFP works with Wave Money – a Myanmar-based joint venture between a local bank and a mobile phone company – to electronically credit the mobile money to the private account of each head of household. The recipients receive an SMS notification from WFP, and can then withdraw the cash at the nearest authorised “Wave Shop”. WFP provided mobile phones and SIM cards to recipients, as well as training in the new methodology.
WFP will continue with mobile cash transfers to 284 families in six camps until April, and will then evaluate – based on feedback from the displaced people as well as technical information collected – whether to continue and expand the system.