SCOPE Program: World Food Program (WFP) revives battered economy in Jonglei state

Posted: October 6, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Economy, Mach Samuel Peter, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Mach Samuel Peter, Bor, Jonglei State

The secretary General of Jonglei State Chamber of commerce Mr. Abraham Chol Keech

The secretary General of Jonglei State Chamber of commerce Mr. Abraham Chol Keech

October 6, 2016 (SSB) — The World Food Programme (WFP) has taken steps to diversify and pick up the way it delivers food assistance in parts of South Sudan where there are functioning markets particularly in Bor, Jonglei State. The move benefits not only the beneficiaries but also the business community.

After June, South Sudan economic crisis left approximately 300 shops closed at Marol Market in Bor, but with WFP voucher program, forty shops have been selected receiving approximately 60 Million SSP every month something the chamber of commerce described as economic revivalism as some shops begin to pick-up.

The secretary General of Jonglei State Chamber of commerce Mr. Abraham Chol Keech said there is competition between whole sellers and retailers in Marol Market. He said the prices of food commodities have reduced, for instance 50kg bag of sugar is 3500 SSP in Bor and 3600 in Juba meaning Bor is cheaper that Juba.

“Between Mingkaman and Bor we have about 59,000,000 coming into the Market in Bor and this actually drop the prices of good,” Chol said.  “We counted about three hundred shops run out of business but now many are re-opening,” he further said.

In Bor the beneficiaries are from Mingkaman WFP estimated about 50 thousand people who mainly cross the River Nile from Bor.  40 machines have been deployed across Marol Market when chamber of commerce and WFP invited traders selected from Marol market.

The IDPs and the local traders have already witnessed the benefits of the new system that allows WFP to gradually transition from in-kind distributions of food to an electronic money programme. In April 2016, WFP introduced paper vouchers, which people could use to buy food from selected shops. Two months later WFP changed to full electronic cards powered by a new information management system called SCOPE.

SCOPE allows WFP to register beneficiaries, store information on the amount of food or money they are entitled to, and, in the case of vouchers, and transfer the specific amount onto the e-cards. Recipients then use the electronic card to buy food items from selected shops.

In Mingkaman, WFP now provides a full month’s ration of pulses and cooking oil, and 70 percent of the previous cereal ration, along with cash to the e-cards worth the value of the remaining 30 percent of the cereal ration. The households can use their electronic cards at selected shops to purchase a variety of food items.

This year, WFP has received assistance from the United Nations Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) to roll out its voucher programme in Mingkaman.

Shifting from in-kind food distributions to e-cash assistance, however, has its challenges in South Sudan. The deteriorating economic situation has led to price hikes, which could affect the cash-based programmes. The resupply of food stocks is a concern due to the remoteness of Mingkaman and the unreliable electricity needed to power the machines.

To mitigate these challenges, WFP has provided solar panels to the traders to ensure continued power supply. It bases its transfers on thorough market price assessments and the traders who were selected have a track record of keeping a consistent stock of supplies.

Around 2.8 million people are in urgent need of food assistance in South Sudan. Because of conflict, high food prices and a deepening economic crisis, the nation is facing the worst levels of food insecurity since independence. While hunger is most acute in states worst affected by fighting (Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity), food security has also deteriorated in non-conflict areas, extending the crisis to much of the country.

In parts of Unity State, malnutrition has reached catastrophic proportions. In some places, global acute malnutrition is above 30 percent. Across Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity, as well as in the non-conflict states of Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal, it is consistently above the 15 percent emergency threshold.

WFP and its partners have continued to deploy rapid response teams, whenever there are windows of opportunity, to reach people in remote parts of the most conflict-affected states. In 2015, through the Rapid Response Mechanism, more than 1.44 million people were provided assistance.

In the past year, WFP introduced cash-based transfers to allow people to purchase their choice of food from local traders, thus strengthening the local economy and trade. The first transfers were made to displaced people at PoC (Protection of Civilians) sites in Juba and in the IDP (Internally Displaced People) settlement in Mingkaman.

In early 2016, WFP began expanding the system to Bahr el Ghazal. However, the deteriorating economic situation has led to price rises which could negatively affect such cash-based programmes.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.

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