The Philippines is home to multiple natural disasters every year, including typhoons and floods, but the World Food Programme has decided that the best way to get 2,000 such victims back on their feet is by paying them to re-build their own homes. The cash-for-work program has been rolled out in Kenya and Syria previously, but with the help of the Department of Social Welfare, the Philippines will be the newest pilot test.
The 2,000 participants were chosen on the basis of their poor economic and living conditions in northern Philippines. They will earn up to $6 per day and at the end of an agreed-upon 10 days of work they receive a text message indicating that their money is at any one of 18,000 participating banks in the country. The money can also be cashed at participating pawnshops.
Typhoons Ketsana and Parma caused a total of $700 million in damages last year alone, so the estimated $39,000 to be sent via text message to pay the victims for their work is not much, but it’s a start.
“Cash is … better because unlike rice, the beneficiary can use it to address other needs of their family,” said WFP Country Director, Stephen Anderson.
The WFP isn’t shy when it comes to innovation — we profiled their management approach in Nepal and their use of smartphones in Burundi, both of which indicate a willingness to try new approaches. Indeed, the WFP is known in UN circles to be one of the more experimental agencies of the United Nations.