Monthly Archives: July, 2017

The role of ICTs for agriculture in global development

July 24th, 2017 Posted by ICT4D 0 comments on “The role of ICTs for agriculture in global development”

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can facilitate access to timely and accurate information for an improved agricultural production. Access to information is crucial in family farming, which is known to be heterogeneous, primarily family-based labour, production of highly diversified products, and limited access to productive resources.

ICTs, especially mobile applications, are playing key role in facilitating access to these resources by the poor. The “digital financial services” revolution has huge implication on family farmers.

Photo Credit: Marco Marche

With the increasing penetration of mobile phones in remote parts of the world, efforts should then be made to strengthen the innovative use of mobile technologies by family farmers. Combination of
mobile technology and geographic information system provide accurate, specific/micro information of soil, water, nutrient etc. on farmers’ field for decision making.

Creating the enabling environments for rural ICT connectivity through sound policies and strategies and ensuring thereby affordable and quality access to the technologies, especially in rural areas, will support smooth exchange of agricultural information for family farms. ICT strategies and platforms that increase involvement of farmers’ organizations in policy development, policy debates, and influencing policy implementation have to be promoted.

In 2013, Gnucoop developed for Action Contre la Faim a mobile-web application to monitor prices of basic food items available in Central African Republic markets. Food prices are usually collected by different organizations working in different areas.

This platform, based on ODK data collection application, gathers information from different sources into a unique system.

Find out more on ODK website

Cash and vouchers: a new way to respond to hunger and nutrition issues

July 17th, 2017 Posted by Emergency, ICT4D, MMoney, Refugees, software development 1 comment on “Cash and vouchers: a new way to respond to hunger and nutrition issues”
Infographic 1: Cash and voucher system


Cash and voucher system refers to a restricted number of tools, where the cash or voucher is given to individuals, households or communities, but not to governments or other state actors.

In certain humanitarian disasters, the supply of food to markets and shops is sustained, yet, the affected population loses the means to buy it. In such cases, the cash and voucher aid approach ensures humanitarian aid reaches directly those with the greatest need in a timely manner.

Cash and vouchers are quick to deliver, cost-effective and provide people in need with greater choice. Among its advantages are benefits for local economies, empowerment of the beneficiaries, dignity and decision power to people who can choose the items they would like to buy. The cash and voucher system has shown to help the morale of those in need and also prepares the ground for linking relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD) activities.

Cash and vouchers can be spent on a variety of products but usually food, non-food items, fuel, blankets and other essentials are the first port of call for those who need support.

With the institutional shift from food aid to food assistance, WFP  now has three distinct transfer modalities for distributing resources to target beneficiaries:
Food in kind (in-kind contribution and/or procured).

Cash and vouchers, together with food, provide WFP with additional flexibility in responding to hunger and nutrition issues, and allow the organization to tailor a food assistance response to the needs of beneficiaries – including those with special needs – and their contexts (i.e. what is possible, acceptable and/or feasible in a given situation), facilitating their access to available food in the local markets

The diversification of transfer modality options requires: (i) a systematic analysis of markets to determine suitability of a market based response; and (ii) a better understanding of the context through a series of sectoral capacity assessments. These will identify what is possible and feasible in a given context, and what is acceptable for beneficiaries in order to ensure that the chosen transfer modality is the most appropriate option.

The transfer modality consit of:
Cash trasnfers – monetary assistance in the form of physical cash or electronic disbursement to a targeted individual or household that enables direct access to food from the marketplace,
Voucher transfers – assistance to a targeted individual or household in the form of a paper or electronic entitlement reedemable at preselected retailers or at specifically organised fairs for a predifined list of commodities, but not for cash,
Food in-kind transfers – assistance to a targeted individual or household in the form of dry or wet rations.

The two main types of vouchers are:
Commodity voucher – redeemable for fixed quantities of specified foods,
Value voucher – redeemable for a choice of specified food items with the equivalent cash value of the voucher.

Furthermore, there are
two voucher distribution models:
Paper voucher – The beneficiary receives paper coupons and/or a scratch card that has a commodity or monetary value and that can be exchanged at contracted retailers or at specifically organized fairs. Both cash and commodity vouchers can be exchanged for items or services, but not for cash. Paper vouchers are distributed on a monthly basis and have a predefined validity period.
Electronic voucher – Electronic vouchers (e-vouchers) carry information on the monetary value of assistance or items and quantities they can be exchanged for on a barcode, a magnetic band or microchip on the card, or by short message service (SMS). Electronic voucher instruments (bank card, cell phone, SCOPECARD, etc.) are issued to beneficiaries only once, whereas their redemption value or quantity is credited remotely at predefined temporal intervals.

Infographic 2: Paper and electronic voucher
Infographic 3: Summary features of e-transfer mechanisms