E-Vouchers and other forms of digital payments have been instrumental at times of crisis. Emerging technologies have made it easier than ever to respond to a disaster, and to streamline rescue and aid missions. Humanitarian efforts have been more successful using the technology that we usually associate with customer reward or employee benefit schemes.
Over the last couple of years, there have been three standout examples of how this technology has saved lives; ensuring that help gets to where it is needed. The inaugural World Humanitarian Summit took place recently in Istanbul. Stakeholders, agencies and influencers gathered to discuss how to better respond to global threats and natural disaster. The examples set out below show just how technology such as vouchers is changing lives:
1. Syrian Refugee Crisis
As the crisis in Syria emerged in the media over the last five years, many neighbouring states, including Jordan were struggling to deal with the influx of refugees. Their use of technology to manage the process of rehoming and getting aid to those in need has been revolutionary. Jordan now houses more than 640,000 refugees. The country has implemented iris-recognition to allow refugees to access food, using monetary assistance from The UN Refugee Agency. This project is expected to be expanded to further refugee camps in affected areas.
2. Afghanistani Food Aid
In 2014, the World Food Programme decided to upgrade its paper vouchers to electronic vouchers. The problem facing the programme was that many users were illiterate. Transitioning to evouchers has increased efficiency and security, meaning that aid gets to those who need it most when they need it. Incredibly, some 70,000 people are receiving food aid via mobile phone in the country. A customer satisfaction survey yielded 100% positive results when users were asked whether the customer experience was seamless.
3. Ebola in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone was one of the hardest hit countries in West Africa when the Ebola virus breakout happened two years ago. At such a difficult time, digital payments made paying the emergency workers in a timely and secure manner preventing strikes by invaluable workers and ultimately saving many lives. Payments made digitally in this manner prevented double payments, the administration involved in rectifying that; it avoided fraud and streamlined the whole process. Overall, the scheme saved the country more than US$10million. This amount is sufficient to fund the Sierra Leone national healthcare system (which takes care of 1.4 million children and 250,000 pregnant women every year).
One of our clients, the United Nations Federation Credit Union serves employees of the United Nations across the globe. This includes employees of US Fund for UNICEF. It offers them a suite of account services including their new credit card, which Ovation helped to implement, through a loyalty programme to encourage uptake of the card.
Ovation put a points-based rewards system in place for UNFCU members across 205 countries worldwide. We made sure that they could shop how they wanted, when they wanted, where they wanted, by offering an extensive range of rewards that covered every possible demographic.
So it was heart warming to come across a similar such implementation of technology in the examples above of humanitarian efforts across the globe.