Sunday 12 June 2016

An Innovative Solution to
Cash Programming

 By Mustafa Ghulam
(FSL Program Manager)



Emergency Food Security and Resilience Programming

An Innovative Solution to Cash Programming


In order to meet the emergent needs of beneficiaries, humanitarian organizations continue to be asked to come up with innovative solutions for swift aid delivery in often challenging, insecure and complex environments. To respond to these challenges, Save the Children Yemen in partnership with MasterCard Aid Network have transformed the way we deliver food to support people in need at the soonest without compromising on security risks.

Currently in Yemen, over half of the population – 14.4 million people – are food insecure. This includes nearly 8 million children. Prior to the launch of the new e-voucher scheme, our Programming Teams used to distribute the traditional paper food vouchers to beneficiaries on a monthly basis. This has always proved extremely labour intensive and cumbersome, both for our programme teams as well as our hard-pressed Finance colleagues who often struggled to keep on top of the huge piles of paperwork associated with the requisite reconciliation and audit processes.  The paper based system also resulted in huge crowds congregating at collection points for their vouchers, putting the lives of both beneficiaries and those of our staff at a greater risk given the ongoing conflict in the country and in particular the possibility of airstrikes. The introduction of the e-voucher system has therefore been a revelation, both helping to streamline our response to Yemen’s chronic humanitarian needs as well as reduce the risks to our beneficiaries and staff in the field. 

The MasterCard Aid system works off line and does not need an internet connection to process transactions. Internet connections are often unavailable, particularly in remote locations. The MC Aid system is easy to deploy and the chip-enabled card can be pre-loaded with credit for basic food commodities remotely.  Participating suppliers are equipped with a visual, user-friendly point of sale terminals or tablets and beneficiaries only need to swipe their card and enter a PIN to safely confirm their transaction and receive their goods.



In May over 30 representatives from organizations such as USAID, WFP, IRC, UNRWA, WVI, CARE, IRC, Relief International, Oxfam, NRC, and ACTED attended a joint lessons learned event hosted by Save the Children Yemen and MasterCard Aid in Amman. The event proved an overwhelming success, all present were extremely interested in Save the Children Yemen’s experience and keen to learn more about the e-voucher system. Save the Children shared that 






As a result of use of this approach staff and beneficiaries exposure to challenging environment was minimized, transaction time was reduced and quick release of the payment (1-5 days) improved vendor relationships. This also helped in revival of the markets. Furthermore the system ensures confidentiality of the beneficiaries’ data however user can access any time:

·         By using electronic vouchers, the audit trail, payment information, and beneficiary transaction history is stored in the Web portal and is always available for review – even if office was destroyed or unable to be safely accessed.

•      In conflict situation, the program was able to continue even when SC staff could not travel to the field because e- cards were loaded electronically.

•      Beneficiaries were able to collect their food any time from the local accessible vendors’ outlets – so no longer ques.



The e-voucher system that Save the Children Yemen piloted helped us to transform the way of humanitarian assistance remotely with efficiency and accuracy.  The system has been incredibly beneficial innovation that works for everyone involved – beneficiaries, aid organizations, local merchants and donors.