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R2m food voucher system rolled out to at-risk communities

Flash, a retail technology service provider and subsidiary of Pepkor, has partnered with the DG Murray Trust to launch a R2m electronic food voucher system to approximately 7,000 at-risk households in five food insecure communities across the country.

CoCare Voucher Programme pilots in Ceres
CoCare Voucher Programme pilots in Ceres

Phase One of the new CoCare Voucher Programme commenced this week, after a successful pilot in Ceres earlier this month. The system channels essential food aid in the form of a R150 voucher to vulnerable households and beneficiaries via participating Flash retailers and spaza shops.

Flash has been designated an ‘essential services provider’ during the lockdown as it enables low-income communities and at-risk individuals to purchase essentials like electricity, airtime, data and make bill payments via its 172,000 Flash shops, which service 24 million customers monthly.

Assisting those on the breadline

Developed and funded by Flash, the CoCare Pilot Project was successfully implemented in Ceres by non-profit organisation, The Development Action Group (DAG) from 9 April, and will be ongoing. Originally targeting 1,000 food-insecure households living on or close to the breadline, the Project reported an 80% redemption rate within one week of the CoCare electronic voucher being delivered to beneficiaries’ mobile phones.

“Based on the success of our Pilot Project in Ceres, and subject to funding, the CoCare Voucher system can be rolled out to our full retail footprint represented by Flash vendors within a matter of weeks. With more than nine-million school-going children unable to access the daily nutritious meals they received through the country’s national school nutrition programme, the CoCare system overcomes distribution, security and targeting challenges that make delivering vital food support to the most vulnerable in our society so problematic," says Flash director Ross Norton.

R2m food voucher system rolled out to at-risk communities

GrowGreat, a food security advocacy and support NPO, is partnering with Flash to provide access to its network of registered community-based organisations in the five identified communities in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. Phase One of the CoCare Programme will target between 1,000 and 1,500 people in each region, providing one R150 CoCare Voucher per household to be used on food and hygiene essentials, redeemable within seven days.

CoCare marketing collateral will be placed outside participating Flash shops with the invitation to those registered under the initiative to redeem their vouchers. Once registered, the beneficiary will be issued with a unique voucher number that’s redeemable for food and other essential items at any participating Flash shop.

R2m food voucher system rolled out to at-risk communities

Emergency support

Dr David Harrison, chief executive officer of DG Murray Trust comments, “Right now, our emergency response to the Covid-19 epidemic is to provide support to those who are excluded from mainstream efforts to protect against the spread of Covid-19 and to mitigate its impacts. We are proud to be associated with a programme that directly strengthens household food security by putting an electronic food voucher into the hands of the most at-risk individuals in targeted communities.”

Norton concludes that the benefit of the initiative is that it relies on an existing technology, and takes advantage of an existing physical supply chain and distribution system.

"The CoCare Voucher is delivered via mobile, is free to register for, and offers a reliable and safe distribution mechanism. As a means to help protect the South African economy and stimulate recovery after the Lockdown, the CoCare Food Voucher Programme can be extended into a discounted or subsidised offering on basic essential products, also providing liquidity into micro, small and medium enterprises that form the lifeblood of our economy," he said.

The intention is to invite funding and participation from corporates, foundations, and civil society to support the national extension of the CoCare Food Voucher system across all nine provinces in communities listed by Government as critically vulnerable.

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