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UNICEF, WFP harness tech to strengthen food distribution for Rohingyas

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Cox's Bazar Correspondent :
 UNICEF has partnered with WFP to use the food agency's SCOPE digital assistance system to distribute soap supplies to up to 50,000 refugees in Rohingya Refugee camps, strengthening hygiene practices and helping prevent disease outbreaks. The pilot was launched in Balukhali Refugee camp on 1 August 2018.
"UNICEF is proud to join WFP's electronic distribution system. This allows us to provide essential hygiene products for up to 50,000 individuals each month, and greatly increases our efficiency in monitoring distributions. This will have a significant impact on preventing disease outbreaks, particularly among children," said Jean Metenier, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Cox's Bazar.  
SCOPE is an online database system which WFP has developed to improve how it distributes food and other assistance to people in need.  Each household is issued an assistance card that stores household data which can also be used to redeem food at outlets within the camps.
SCOPE allows Rohingya refugees to enroll for an electronic food assistance card, much like a smart card. Refugees can use this card at participating food outlets and use their monthly credit to collect food and now soap. They have greater choice on the diversity of food and hygiene supplies they receive, and they no longer need to travel and queue at centralized distribution points.
"WFP aims to extend the electronic voucher programme to gradually include the entire refugee population by March 2019, allowing refugees more food choices. I am pleased that our partnership with UNICEF now helps ensure that hygiene items are also available at the retail outlets we work with,'' WFP Emergency Coordinator Peter Guest added.
UNICEF is providing 13 bars of soap for each target household every month - eight for hand washing and five for laundering clothes.
"It is important that we not only promote good hygiene practices, but also that we supply products to support these practices on a regular basis. WFP's SCOPE distribution system helps us to reach this goal," highlighted Jean Metenier, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Cox's Bazar.  
 "I am very happy to get the soap today. I have an eight-month-old son, and now I can bathe him with soap, I can wash our clothes. We have no money, so we couldn't afford to buy soap," says Sajida, a young mother.
UNICEF plans to align with WFP to scale up coverage within the camps and potentially expand the range of hygiene supplies available through the SCOPE system to ensure sustained progress on good hygiene practices in the refugee camps.

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