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Mobile Money: a way-out for the autonomy of women from polygamous marriage

The mobile money helps refugees to carry out lucrative activities. (c) Anne Mireille Nzouankeu

The mobile money helps refugees to carry out lucrative activities. (c) Anne Mireille Nzouankeu

Since the beginning of the year, the #WFP introduced the Cash Based Transfer (CBT), a system that implies converting the equivalent of food ration into money.

Abdoulaye Amina, 24, is a Central African refugee living in Timangolo, a Cameroonian village at the vicinity of the Central African border. Mother of six, she has to provide for her home on weekly basis. She therefore has a different way of getting her supplies. She buys her needs through online payment and after gets to the sellers to collect them.

The first step for her is to go to a liaison officer who will help her buying supplies. We help those who can not read, to order their command and to transfer money to the sellers accountexplains Nancy Abaa, Field Officer at the WFP local  bureau.  Its a service she provides to Amina. 

Sitted on a stool, facing Nancy, Abdoulaye Amina chooses the basic necessities she wants to buy: milk, salt, sugar, pasta, cassava powder, stock cube and meat. As she makes her choice, Nancy, the liaison officer, helps her filling in an order sheet. At the end, the liaison officer makes the total value of the products and transfers money from Aminas phone to those of the sellers chosen. Abdoulaye Amina will then get to the sellers to collect her supplies.

#Cameroon hosts actually 359000 refugees among which 274000 from Central Africa Republic. These refugees are fed by the World Food Program (WFP) and its partners. Till date, refugees were receiving each month some food.

However, this method of #food distribution caused various difficulties including the need to be present the day of distribution and to make a queue during long hours even if a person is ill. Refugees receive each month the same products which sometimes do not match their tastes and eating habits.  Finally, it is always the husband that receives the food aid. Even in the case of polygamous home, it is the husband that receives all the aid and divides it as he wishes to each spouse.

The World Food Program introduced the Cash Based Transfer system. (C) Anne Mireille Nzouankeu
The World Food Program introduced the Cash Based Transfer system. (C) Anne Mireille Nzouankeu

 

Since the beginning of the year, the WFP introduced the Cash Based Transfer (CBT), a system that implies converting the equivalent of food ration into money. The #money is transferred every month to the beneficiaries through a platform of electronic money.

In order to make the mobile payment system effective, each beneficiary home received a mobile phone and a SIM card from the WFP, so to have access to an electronic wallet in order to buy food as they wish, to some selected resellers.  One of the main advantages of mobile payment is that with the money received, beneficiaries have the means to choose food and quantities accordingly.

Abdoulaye Amina is the second wife of her husband. Before the introduction of mobile payment, her husband was the one to sign during the distribution of food and share after between his different spouses according to his convenience.

I prefer the phone system. Not only I can buy by myself, but also, I can get what I like, for instance meat. In my country, my husband bred beef. We could eat meat every day. Since three years that we ran from our country because of war, we did not eat meat until I could buy some a few months ago, thanks to mobile payment. I am very happy, says Amina with a large smile. The programme of money transfer provides others advantages such as in the case of polygamous marriage, each wife is considered as a home et receives directly on her phone, her food allowance for her and her children.  Refugees are no more obliged to stand on lines during long hours to receive food.

This system helped some refugees to carry out lucrative activities, because stores where refugees buy through #mobile money are found in refugeescamps et are held by other refugees. It is the case of Abdouramane Sali, a reseller, who declares to have a benefit of about CFAF 100000 each month thanks to this activity.  Till date, 80000 refugees have already passed to the system of food aid to that of money transfer through phone. It is a process carried on progressively.

Anne Mireille Nzouankeu