SCOPE cardsIn 2016, the World Food Programme (WFP) introduced SCOPE, a digital platform that manages beneficiary information and transfer, to provide “personalized and helpful assistance” to the recipients of their aid. The platform uses blue digital cards known as SCOPE cards to tackle poverty and hunger through improved resource distribution.

How the Cards Work

To receive a SCOPE card, individuals are required to provide basic personal information such as name, age, gender and biometric data in the form of a fingerprint. This helps the WFP keep track of recipients, prevent fraudulent activities like duplicate cards or false identities and ensure that resources reach the intended parties. When collecting monthly allowances using the SCOPE card, recipients use their fingerprints and personal codes for verification. The cards work for withdrawals in the form of cash or digital vouchers and beneficiaries can also use mobile phones to complete transactions.

Every time a beneficiary makes a purchase in a store using a SCOPE card, the system establishes an electronic connection to verify the individual’s identity, records the transaction and deducts the cost from the balance. This process also provides the WFP with valuable feedback on the purchased foods and products, enabling them to adapt and respond to needs and deliver consistent support efficiently.

SCOPE in Somalia

In response to ongoing severe droughts in Somalia, which displaced almost one million individuals and left more than three million people seeking humanitarian aid, the European Union (EU) and its Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) gave the WFP almost €18 million to use as financial aid in 2017.

Initially, over 40,000 families received support through e-vouchers for food. The subsequent introduction of SCOPE cards and monthly cash withdrawals has given individuals more freedom in choosing how they spend and provided new investment opportunities in areas like education and healthcare.

The WFP shares success stories such as Habiba’s, who struggled to earn $8 a month from occasional washing jobs she found after being forced to move to Mogadishu. However, the $80 a month she receives from ECHO is now a “lifeline” for her. Moreover, the “added value of supporting and stimulating local trade in areas where markets continue to function” offers promise for individuals, families and communities.

SCOPE in Iraq

SCOPE has also been implemented in Iraq to support the over three million conflict-displaced citizens alongside thousands of Syrian refugees. With more than $32 million in funding from ECHO, the project launched in the northern Kurdish region of Akre, a hotspot of Syrian and Iraqi families seeking shelter. Iraq’s WFP Country Director hailed the program as a “turning point.”

WFP’s SCOPE cards, cash and vouchers and food collection points have made significant progress in alleviating food insecurity and enabling families to prioritize other needs during times of crisis. Currently, 70,000 Syrian refugees and nearly half of all displaced Iraqis are receiving WFP assistance.

Looking Ahead

SCOPE cards show how new technologies and innovative systems can constantly improve the reach and efficiency of efforts that aim to alleviate hunger and poverty. The WFP continues to roll out initiatives in refugee camps and other places around the world, giving underserved populations access to the support they need.

– Helene Schlichter
Photo: Flickr