The 10-month-long program is designed as a pilot program, to create a model that the government could replicate and scale up
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP ) is scheduled to provide food assistance for 10,000 households in the slums of Dhaka under its new initiative, “Urban Poor Food Assistance Program.”
WFP virtually launched the program from its Dhaka office on Wednesday. The 10-month-long program is designed as a pilot program, to create a model that the government could replicate and scale up.
The program is supported by an initial grant of $7 million from USAID. The implementing partner, Brac, will help identify the target demography and distribution of the assistance door to door by maintaining physical distance.
According to the program documents, with support from USAID, WFP is initially targeting 10,000 households (50,000 individuals) in at-risk low-income urban areas of the Kallyanpur slum and Sattala Bosti in Mohakhali, to complement government and NGO assistance in the areas.
Under the program, households receive monthly cash assistance along with similar packages provided by the government, complementary to the support received under existing safety net programs.
Towards strengthening linkage with existing systems and policies, WFP will also support the self-enrolment of those considered eligible and will advocate for their inclusion in appropriate government schemes.
A parallel three-month short-term intervention is planned in the targeted locations and surrounding communities, recognizing those who have little or no access to markets.
Households in confinement are to receive food packages containing rice, lentils, oil, vegetables and eggs, sourced locally and worth $10 per person, adequate to meet their daily nutritional needs over two weeks.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller, WFP Country Representative Richard Ragan, Brac Executive Director Asif Saleh and State Minister of Social Welfare Md Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru were present at the launching ceremony, among others.
Richard Ragan said that WFP was trying to raise $100 million for the program from the US government. Mentioning Brac’s efficiency, he said : “Brac’s power to reach people is impressive, with Brac we will work together.”
Asif Saleh said: “It [Covid-19 outbreak] is not only a health problem, it is also an economic and security issue. It is a crisis which came suddenly. No one can alone overcome it. We all are helping the government.”
Replying to a question on duplication of identification of beneficiaries, Asif Saleh said: “Every government is struggling to identify the target people. We have a master database which will help to avoid duplication.”
The program aims to promote the use of non-cash payment systems such as bKash to replace cash transfers and minimize person to person contact.
Through similarly designed incentive-based packages, beneficiaries are guided towards using the cash for the consumption of healthy food products. In support of this, WFP will work with some local traders to ensure a stable supply of vegetables and other nutritious food in shops within the targeted area.