Mobile money to help save lives in emergencies

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

World Food Programme
A mobile money humanitarian programme will deliver cash-based transfers to save lives in global emergencies. PHOTO: ImageCollab

An industry organisation representing mobile network operators worldwide and the World Food Programme (GFP) are expanding their partnership to help the world’s most vulnerable people through mobile money. The GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation programme, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), will deliver digital assistance through cash-based transfers to save lives in global emergencies including pandemics and natural disasters in a three year collaboration. John Giusti, chief regulatory officer at GSMA, says as humanitarian crises become more frequent, complex and protracted, the need to devise services that are scalable, replicable and efficient for humanitarian organizations has become crucial. He says with over one billion mobile money accounts worldwide, the use of digital technology, specifically mobile money services, can provide the foundation for rapidly scaling cash transfers to safely and effectively deploy resources. Enrica Porcari, director of technology at WFP and chair of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), says he is delighted that five years into the relationship, the GSMA is expanding its work with WFP and the ETC. He says this will scale up mobile money use for humanitarian assistance through WFP’s cash-based transfer and beneficiary services management platform called SCOPE and will have an enduring impact on all those facing food insecurity. “As well as being fast and efficient, digital assistance offers better security, tracking, transparency and therefore accountability. It also boosts financial inclusion by offering vulnerable people access to a range of digital financial services and more flexible choices about how to spend their assistance which can in turn boost local businesses,” says Porcari. In 2020, the partnership aims to use mobile technol