OXFAM Introduces E-Vouchers as Aid Support to Disaster Affected Communities

By Adorina Massing

OXFAM has facilitated a one-week national training on Cash Transfer and Unblocked Cash to get participants familiarized with the system of delivering aid through e-vouchers in place of traditional in-kind support.

Around 30 participants have attended the workshop at the Grand Hotel and equipped themselves on the programme design for Unblocked Cash, the cash transfer fundamentals, the overall process on meal, safeguarding and COVID-19 response as well as Gender and Inclusion.

Project Unblocked Cash Transfer is a Cash and Voucher Assistance solution developed by Oxfam in partnership with Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) to enable rapid, efficient and transparent financial aid for disaster relief.

SEMPO is an Australian-based non-profit association co-founded by Nick Williams and Tristan Cole in July 2017. Its mission is to efficiently distribute relief funds to at-risk communities across the globe while increasing financial inclusion.

Situated on the infamous Ring of Fire and located within the Cyclone Belt, Vanuatu experiences many geophysical and hydro-meteorological hazards which includes earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, landslides, cyclones, floods and droughts.

With this Unblocked Cash Transfer programme, Oxfam in Vanuatu is planning to deploy a large-scale cash transfer response, adopting a consortium style approach that provides e-vouchers as aid assistance in times of disasters.

Instead of giving money in forms of cash, Oxfam provides an e-voucher card with a deposit of Vt10,000 that renews every month to affected households. The entitlements are held on the card as a sequence of deposits and withdrawals.

In the Oxfam-Sempo system, the data stored on the Near-field Communication (NFC) compatible card could only be modified by an NFC-compatible smartphone, which can scan the card when held nearby (two cards cannot interact).

Registered vendors/shop sellers will be provided a free standardised smartphone to aid in the cash transfers of the e-voucher system.

The Unblocked Cash Pilot last year has shown modest cost-savings and significant time-savings related to operational activities.

The provinces covered by this program are: SANMA (Santo), SHEFA (Efate) and TAFEA (Tanna). It is said an estimated total of 5,000 households will be targeted in this response which will commence in the following months.

The response program is implemented in three phases:

Phase 1: Preparedness – donor proposals & partner agreements (June – August)

Phase 2: Design & Setup – network setup & package preparation (June – September)

Phase 3: Implementation – field trainings & pre-identifications (October – March 2021)

The beneficiaries in this program who are mostly vulnerable age-groups are: single mothers (with children), widows and widowers (under 60yrs), elderlies (60+), people with disabilities and displaced people (houses destroyed).

Main donors for the program are provided by the Australian and New-Zealand Government. Other resourceful partners include: World Vision, Save the Children, Digicel, Vanuatu Society for People with Disability (VSPD), Vanuatu Business Resilience Council, Barrett and Partners, ADRA, Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC), Vanuatu Red Cross, Vanuatu Disability Promotion & Advocacy Association (VDPA), Viewpoint Exploration (ViewpX) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).

The Oxfam Unblocked Cash Transfer call-centre and hotline have been setup and will be activated during the course of the response. In case of problems or feedbacks, one can call beneficiaries on +678 34888 or ask their Community Focal Person.