Food Voucher Program: Alleviating a Burden

Sunday 13 December 2015


Abdullah is a father of four, now living in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) with his family.  Like the 3 million displaced people in Iraq, Abdullah and his family were forced to flee their hometown in Anbar as the violence had escalated around them.

However, his experience is not a common one. One year and a half ago, on his journey into KRI, Abdullah and his family got into a car accident, all were severely injured with broken bones and permanent injuries. The family is still requiring regular medical treatment and therapy, one of the family’s biggest expenses.

In partnership with World Food Program (WFP), Save the Children has been providing Abdullah and each member of his family with monthly food vouchers since November 2014. The vouchers, valued at 19,000 IQD (16 USD) allow members of the family to redeem their vouchers at certain supermarkets purchasing essential food items  like flour, rice, cooking oil, sugar etc.

“I can’t be employed because of my injuries and we don’t have a source of income for the family,” said Abdullah, “the vouchers are very helpful because they cut the expenses we used to pay for food.”

Nearly all of the displaced families are struggling when it comes to their livelihoods. Many are being forced to send their young children into the labor market instead of school, in order to support the family. Children’s education and protection is at risk when the economic state of their families is depleting.

During the past month, Save the Children and WFP distributed a total of 35,900 food vouchers to 35,900 IDPs, reaching thousands of families like Abdullah’s.

The Food Voucher Program, does not only help with the feeding of families, it allows them to pursue other essentials like shelter, education and health as it alleviates some financial pressures.

Receiving the food vouchers has helped Abdullah and his family to keep up with required medical check-ups and treatments.

“As a family our largest expense is rent, medical treatments and doctor visits,” he
shared, “being able not to worry about feeding your family every day is helping me provide the crucial health care that we need. The vouchers are our only way to get food, and the only way for our treatment.”

 The conflict in Iraq has pushed over 3.2 million people out of their homes, schools, jobs and communities, forcing them to seek refuge elsewhere in the country. After their displacement, these families struggle to meet basic needs like food, water and shelter, putting them and their children at great risk. In most cases, the assistance from WFP and Save the Children’s food vouchers are a lifeline for these families.