According to UNHCR “After fleeing war or persecution, the opportunity to work and earn a living is one of the most effective ways people can rebuild their lives in dignity and peace”.
UNHCR helps the displaced to achieve self-reliance by building their skills and knowledge, as well as providing access to the resources, training, assets, inputs, services and markets they need.
“Access to safe and sustainable energy is a basic human need. Without it, the forcibly displaced – particularly women and children – may be at increased risk and have less time to rebuild their lives”.
In 2014, UNHCR launched a global strategy for Safe Access to Fuels and Energy (SAFE). The SAFE strategy offers crucial guidance and details innovative approaches and technologies, including clean or fuel-efficient cookers, alternative and sustainable fuels, and solar-powered lighting.
In the next months Gnucoop will work with UNHCR DIST (Division of Information Systems and Telecommunications), and its business partner Operational Solutions and Transitions Section (OSTS), to extend the new Twine monitoring base platform, to include the Energy and Livelihoods programme sectors.
As UNHCR DIST mentioned in the Concept Note: “There are several advantages to extending the Twine base platform. It will facilitate end-user/stakeholder access to important operational and decision-making data via a shared portal. Additionally, it will also extend our investment by leveraging a common infrastructure and user management”.
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.
section at multiple geographical level: from refugee camps worldwide to country offices up to regional and HQ level.
From 20th to 24th of February we have been in Kakuma Refugees Camp.
This mission is part of the project we’re developing in support of UNHCR.
During the first day we’ve visited the General Hospital of the Refugees Camp, managed by IRC (International Rescue Committe)
First visit to IRC General Hospital
Together with the partners we discussed the program of the following days, which aim was to submit the new data collection system to the clinic staff and test it.
Testing at the IRC Main Hospital (OPD, IPD, RH, EPI Sectors)
From our point of view, getting the chance to be on the field personally was of great utility. In addition to that, the presence of two persons with different competencies and capabilities – namely one developer and one project manager – was essential to understand and face the issues rised.
The workers have been explained and shown by the developer how to use the application in the very real field conditions and how to deal with some problems. We had to acknowledge that those mechanisms and passages often considered “trivial” by technicians are not regarded as such also by the users, therefore we took this as a lesson learned for the next field testing.
The deep knowledge of forms has been very helpful for feedback gathering and the related reviewing processes.
Furthermore, we could count for some urgent issues on our staff in Italy, who was reacting almost in real time to any request.
Two categories of users participated in the test:
Generally, the feedback we received was content-related, while almost nothing about the new collection system, that is the transition from the use of paper to electronic devices, was mentioned.
Only in the Expanding Program in Immunization (EPI) sector of the Main Hospital, the clinicians have expressed strong doubts, and declared to prefer the current paper forms.
It was the first testing so we focussed on the first feedback from the users, how they reacted to the use of the new system. As already explained, they did not make any comments on the application but simply suggested some changes on the content of the form.
In terms of timing, probably, after few days, they will get used to the system and get faster.
We suggest to spend more time to explain better to the users how it will change the entire process of data collecting and reviewing, thanks to the new system and make them aware about its potentials.
Since a couple of months Gnucoop is engaged in a big project is support of UNHCR. Twine is a web-based platform currently used by UNHCR in refugee operations for data collection and reporting. We first approached this system in order to analyse its weaknesses and to come up with suggestions for the development of a new high performing and user-friendly application.
The so-called “NewTwine” – it is our purpose to give it as well a brand-new name – is being designed from scratch, including a total review of the current system architecture and the development of a mobile application for a unique data collection tool that represents the biggest news of the project.
This application allows to collect data and compile entry forms in a user-friendly way, visualize data, analyse and generate reports at different levels: from refugee camps worldwide to country offices up to regional and HQ level. The type of information concerns healthcare, water and sanitation, nutrition and food security sectors, where the Health Information System (HIS) functionalities entail the biggest component.
Twine is something that user can easily learn to utilize and this is huge beneficial for UNHCR at all levels because it allows the standardization and the speedup of several operations: it has just one interface for data entry; it offers the possibility of working offline and synchronizing when connection is available; it allows selected users to create and modify forms for data collection.
The project´s implementation started in April 2016 and is going to be completed until June 2017. We are currently testing the collecting section. During the analysis phase we have been piloting a new data collection modality using Twine in the WASH sector. Scope of it was the identification of strengths and challenges before extending the new system to other intervention sectors.
A five-week-feature testing between August and September 2016 took place in four Countries, such as Kenya, Jordan, Rwanda and Tanzania. First the Out-Patient Data (OPD) collection forms were tested on 80 tablets, but the application will be responsive and therefore data could be also entered by PC, Laptop, and smartphones.
Different persons, with individual expectations and experiences brought many useful and necessary feedback to modify and give us a better direction for the future development of the application.
During the testing 49 versions of the application have been released and more than 150 issues fixed. Based on the feedbacks, we were able to pinpoint some weaker points in development including the enhancement of the offline-sync function and also thinking about harmonizing across the different Twine platforms (web and mobile). The need to focus more on the aesthetic/user interface aspects of the app has been also pointed out.
The data elaboration and reporting section is being developed now. This tool will allow the user to create new reports and customize her/his own dashboard.
Up to now a very collaborative working atmosphere between Gnucoop staff and UNHCR is being contributing to the first positive results. We are very satisfied with that and share the opinion of Eugene Paik – Public Health Data Analyst at UNHCR – when saying that “the development is heading in the right direction”.