Beneficiary Voices is an online application giving hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Lebanese families up-to-date information on food prices and special offers at stores where they can redeem WFP assistance.
Small and densely populated, Lebanon lies at the heart of a region beset by conflict and political instability. The country has shown exceptional solidarity towards people fleeing war and insecurity in neighbouring countries and has the world’s highest per capita refugee presence, estimated at one quarter of the overall population.
The spill over from the ongoing war in Syria has exacerbated economic and social challenges, placing a strain on existing resources and already overstretched public services and infrastructure in host communities.
In response, WFP runs an e-card system as its primary form of food assistance for vulnerable Syrian and Lebanese families who cannot meet their basic food needs. E-cards are loaded each month with US$ 27 per person and can be used to buy food in any of the 500 contracted shops across Lebanon. The system allows refugees to choose the makeup of their meals, gives them access to fresh produce and significantly boosts the local economy.
Launched in 2017, Beneficiary Voices improves the customer experience for the hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Lebanese families that WFP serves in Lebanon. Leveraging the relationships built between WFP and its contracted retailers, a smartphone application collates and displays the items, prices and promotions at these stores. Without leaving their homes, people receiving WFP assistance can browse local stores and easily find the best prices and deals for the products they want to buy.
According to a report issued by UNHCR in 2016, most refugees living in urban areas live in places that have 2G or 3G mobile coverage. In Lebanon specifically, the study showed that the vast majority of refugees in Lebanon had at least 2G access. You can read more about internet access and smartphone penetration here.
As well as improving the shopping experience for people receiving WFP e-card assistance, the application also aims to boost market efficiency, improve competition and ultimately reduce the prices for most popular products.
The application is currently being tested and refined with refugees from Qabb Ellias in the Bekaa Valley. Long term, WFP aims to improve accessibility by enabling a voice system and rollout the solution to everyone who receives WFP assistance.
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