The World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations has started to increase its support for Lebanon’s crucial national social assistance scheme to help families struggling to achieve ends in the face of severe economic recession, inflation and a collapsing Lebanese pound.
The WFP will support an additional 195,000 people with the aim to reach a total of 300,000 people each month through the Ministry of Social Affairs’ National Policy on Poverty Targeting (NPTP) which develops the national framework and strategy on social protection. WFP will provide each family with an additional 200,000 LBP cash to deal with inflation and rising food prices in Lebanon which can be used in shops or in cash machines (ATMs).
“It gets harder by the day for Lebanese people to put food on the table, so this assistance comes just in time,” says WFP Representative and Country Director in Lebanon Abdallah Alwardat. “Meanwhile, we are monitoring the overall conditions of the families receiving our assistance to make sure they can feed themselves properly and avoid the anguish of not knowing where their next meal is coming from.”
Since 2014, together with the Ministry of Social Affairs, WFP has been the backbone of sustaining the food assistance component of the National Poverty Targeting Programme, reaching more than 105,000 people every month through e-cards which can be used to buy food. This support provides a lifeline for Lebanese families living meal to meal.
WFP repeatedly increased monthly cash assistance transfers throughout 2020 to keep up with rising prices: from LBP40,500 in 2019 to 100,000 LBP for each member of a family that holds the NPTP e-card.
“We stand ready to help the people of Lebanon navigate these challenging times,” says EU Ambassador to Lebanon Ralph Tarraf. “We are committed to strengthening Lebanese social protection systems, including reforming the National Poverty Targeting Programme. We are following this closely with the United Nations and World Bank Group, as part of our joint effort on reform, recovery and reconstruction following the Beirut blast.”
WFP is implementing the scale-up thanks to generous contributions from the European Union, Germany, Canada, Norway, Italy, and France. WFP aims to reach 750,000 Lebanese across the country through various interventions.
“We support an entire approach in Lebanon and do not leave any one behind, as we all take part in this project,” said German Ambassador to Lebanon Andreas Kindl.
In addition, WFP will enhance the capacity and sustainability of the Lebanon Government’s National Poverty Targeting Program in addition to direct food assistance to the poorest Lebanese families. In addition to training the social workers of the Ministry of Social Affairs, WFP provides a robust payment platform, results monitoring, digital systems building and technical support.
“The compounded crises facing Lebanon nowadays have led to a dramatic increase in poverty rates and exacerbated vulnerabilities among the residents of Lebanon,” says Caretaker Minister of Social Affairs Ramzi Moucharafieh. “The Ministry of Social Affairs, in collaboration with WFP and through the generous support of donor community, is trying to guarantee food security and achieve a comprehensive social protection strategy that is a basic right for everyone, to allow them to live in dignity.”