The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is radically expanding its support to a key Lebanese social assistance programme, with the goal of helping 270,000 people get through the triple shock caused by economic crisis, the COVID-19 lockdown and the blasts at Beirut port.

WFP currently supports 15,000 families (105,000 people) who benefit from the Ministry of Social Affair’s (MoSA)  National Poverty Targeting Programme (NPTP) and will increase its scope to reach an additional 35,000 families by the end of 2020. The NPTP is Lebanon’s only national social assistance programme.

“Now more than ever, impoverished families in Lebanon need a safety net to get through the month. The devastating blast that ripped through Beirut added to the woes of thousands of families already struggling to stay afloat,” said Abdallah Alwardat, Country Director and Representative of WFP in Lebanon.

“This is a critical period for the country, and we need to show solidarity with the people of Lebanon,” he added. “WFP’s action so far has ranged from cash assistance to supporting food security and importing wheat flour -- all with the aim of standing with Lebanon.”

Through this programme, WFP provides a monthly assistance of LBP 70,000 per person in the family of six people. This money is transferred to an e-card that families can use to pay for their food when they are at one of the WFP-contracted shops across Lebanon. The selection of eligible families is checked by WFP through its collaboration with MoSA to ensure the highest levels of accountability and transparency and that aid reaches those most in need.

“We cannot lose time, the quicker we can do this the better. We must be objective and transparent and in so, we will rebuild the trust with our people,” said Dr. Ramzi Moucharafieh, Caretaker Minister of Social Affairs, adding: “As a physician, I learned a lot while working at MoSA, about our people and leadership. People should not be struggling to get something that is a basic human right or because we don’t have resources. This Ministry is called Social Affrairs for a reason. Who takes care of people when they go to hospital? When they need help with education or food? The whole system needs to be worked out.”

The food e-card is strictly used in any of the 460 WFP-contracted shops found throughout Lebanon. These shops were chosen as per WFP standards where special attention is given to the amount and quality of food items, hygiene and acceptable prices. The shops are regularly monitored by WFP staff. WFP also monitors the overall conditions of beneficiary families to ensure that cash assistance provided under the NPTP is achieving its objectives in enabling families to meet their food needs.

Supporting this programme is possible thanks to the generous contributions of donor countries such as Germany, the European Union, Norway, Italy and France.

NO Comment 11th October 2020

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