IOM has delivered a training course to Ethiopian government officials from the Gambella region on how to use cash transfers as an innovative way to address the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Staff from UN agencies and NGOs operating in Gambella also took part.
The training explored how cash, vouchers and local markets can form the basis of a fresh approach to providing for the diverse needs of IDPs in Gambella. Key topics included the different types of cash transfers that can be used, as well as the importance of sharing information. While cash transfers have already been used to assist IDPs in other parts of Ethiopia, the training marks the start of cash transfer activities in Gambella.
Cash transfers to IDPs in Gambella have enormous potential to help them to buy food and non-food items such as shelter materials, clothing and mattresses from many functioning, accessible and well stocked local markets.
The region currently hosts 10,930 IDPs from a complex mixture of flooding, clan conflict, and cross-border raids from neighbouring South Sudan. There are also currently 325,645 refugees and asylum seekers from South Sudan residing in Gambella.
The use of cash and vouchers is increasingly becoming recognized as an effective and efficient way to deliver humanitarian aid that has many advantages over more traditional means.
“Cash transfers and the use of vouchers allows us to deliver assistance to IDPs in a way that is flexible, dignified, and truly responsive to the situation they face,” said Miriam Mutalu, IOM Head of Sub-Office in Gambella. “Cash and vouchers put decision making power in the hands of the displaced, while also revitalizing local trade and reducing the risk of aid items being re-sold,” she added.
Officials from the DPSFA, Gambella Regional Administration, Gambella Regional Justice Bureau and the Small Enterprises Development Agency all took part in the training. Staff from UNICEF, UNOCHA, Dan Church Aid, Danish Refugee Council, Norwegian Refugee Council, International Rescue Committee and the Ethiopian Red Cross also attended.
The training was part of an IOM pilot programme launched in December 2016 with a market and needs assessment. The training for regional officials follows a similar training delivered to IDP community leaders and woreda (district) officials in Gambella’s Lare woreda. In February, IOM will start selecting vendors and provide them with a list of items required by the IDPs.
The next step will see IOM provide IDPs with vouchers for necessary non-food items, as well as cash to meet other needs that cannot be covered by vouchers. In addition, IOM will provide the IDPs with high-quality plastic sheets, which are not currently available in Gambella, for shelter. The cash pilot programme is supported by the Ethiopian Humanitarian Fund (EHF).