A new United Nations food voucher scheme aims to help vulnerable families in the Libyan port city of Benghazi get the food they need while also boosting the local economy in the wake of the conflict that wracked the country last year.
The World Food Programme (WFP) plans to reach up to 10,000 families by the end of the three-month project, which may also be expanded to the capital, Tripoli, and other areas of the North African nation.
Under the scheme, families will be able to exchange WFP vouchers for food they choose in selected shops. Around 4,000 families in Benghazi and surrounding areas are to receive about 30,000 vouchers at a total value of $443,000 in the first phase of distributions this month.
Food voucher schemes allow WFP to assist people who live in areas where food is available but they are unable to afford it in sufficient quantities or where there`s a shortage of cash, " says Zlatan Milisic, WFP Representative and Country Director in Libya.
Food is now available in most of Libya and it`s become feasible to switch to voucher-based assistance that acts as a cash injection to both families and the local economy, " he added.
The beneficiaries have been identified by Libyan officials and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They include families whose incomes hardly cover basic food items as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Libya`s interim authorities, the National Transitional Council (NTC), are working to respond to the immediate needs of the people following last year`s uprising that led to the toppling of the regime of Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi in October.
WFP has been providing food assistance to people hit by the conflict throughout Libya since March 2011, reaching more than 1.4 million people with more than 24,000 metric tons of basic food commodities.