• Cash transfer system thru cell phones to pay cash-for-work employed persons in Tacloban

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    The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said on Sunday that a total of 100 people employed by the emergency clean-up program by the government will be paid today (Monday) through a mobile cash transfer system.

    “This cash transfer system through cell phones that will make cash-for-work payments safer and faster. It will help us better assist the families affected by Typhoon Haiyan [Yolanda],” said Rebecca Grynspan, UNDP associate administrator.

    The mobile payment system was initiated by the partnership between the UNDP, Land Bank of the Philippines and Smart Communications that would allow the employed persons of the emergency employment programs of the government to be paid through their cell phones hassle-free.

    The UNDP said that they would test pilot the cash payment system today with 100 persons, which would reach 5,000 beneficiaries by the first phase of the system, and is projected to reach a target group of 50,000 people in the long run.

    The beneficiaries today would be given new Samsung mobile phones with chargers and an initial P10 load and free SMS valid for 30 days on their SIM cards provided, as well as a Land Bank ATM cash card.

    “This mobile cash transfer system provides access to financial services among the poor and vulnerable who have not been using banks at all. [This] will speed up the recovery effort as it will align emergency employment cash-for-work programs with the national DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] activities,” said Luiza Carvalho, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator and UNDP representatives.

    “The use of technology is an important contribution to disaster relief and recovery programs because of its direct benefit to those who survived this recent calamity,” said Napoleon Nazareno, Smart Communications and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company president and chief executive.

    According to the UNDP, the mobile cash transfer will “expand to areas such as Roxas, Guian and Ormoc in the new year.”

    The cash-for-work program, headed by the DSWD and UN agencies, provide employment to thousands of Yolanda survivors on the ground as they were tasked to clear rubble and wastes from roads, public infrastructures, schools and hospitals.

    Aside from mobile phones to be distributed for the workers, other telecommunications response in the Visayas region—based on UN-Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha)—include 40,000 emergency telecommunications wireless networks, 10,000 solar-powered radios and SMS daily news blast to 5,000 community stakeholders. Kristyn Nika M. Lazo

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