Stories

World Food Programme: Cash for Work
< Back to Stories

World Food Programme: Cash for Work

The Bekaa is a fertile valley in Lebanon, located about 30 km east of Beirut. It forms the north eastern extension of the Great Rift Valley which stretches from Syria through the Red Sea into Africa. From the 1st century BC, when the region was part of the Roman Empire, the Bekaa Valley served as a source of grain for the Roman provinces of the Levant. It’s agricultural history is rich.

Today the valley makes up 40 percent of Lebanon's arable land. Since the begging of the Syrian conflict, Syrian refugees have settled in the valley on a daily basis. According to the United Nation’s Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees (VASyR) report, 93 percent of refugees are food insecure to a degree.

Since 2013, WFP has provided Syrian refugees with food assistance through an e-card which is redeemable each month in any of almost 500 contracted shops across Lebanon. Alongside that life-saving support, WFP introduced a cash for assets programme; an income generating opportunity involving agricultural and environmental activities for both vulnerable Syrian and Lebanese communities affected by the crisis.

After completing ten days of work on a project, participants receive the equivalent of five times the amount received from WFP’s traditional cash-based transfer. WFP knows that the average number of people in a family is five.

Only one member of a family can enroll is the programme, widening its participation base to the maximum number of households. Projects are designed by communities with the condition that they benefit the entire community. Building irrigation channels, water bridges, cleaning roads and maintaining streets are among some of the projects already initiated since the programme began in summer 2016.

In 2016, with the help of World Vision, ACF, SHEILD and the Ministry of Agriculture, 1,615 individuals participated in the programme. Throughout 2017, the programme will be scaled up throughout Lebanon.

Text by Omar Afandi
Photos: Edward Johnson