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UNDP rolls out mobile cash transfer in typhoon areas

MANILA, Philippines - People employed in emergency clean-up schemes in typhoon-ravaged areas will be paid through mobile cash transfer.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said yesterday the rollout of the mobile cash transfer system is already underway in Tacloban City, which was hardest hit by Typhoon Yolanda last month.

Eligible participants in the mobile cash transfer system include those enrolled in the cash-for-work programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), civil society and UN agencies in areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

The clearing of rubble and waste from roads, public buildings, schools and hospitals is the cash-for-work program of the UNDP.

The pilot mobile phone payment system is made possible through a partnership between the UNDP, Land Bank of the Philippines and telecommunications firm Smart Communications.

The first phase of the mobile payment system will reach 5,000 participants, expanding over time to reach 50,000 people. It will also be expanded to calamity-stricken Roxas City, Guian and Ormoc City in the new year.

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The initial beneficiaries will each be provided with a new Samsung mobile phone, a SIM with initial P30 airtime load and a Landbank ATM cash card.

“This is a cash transfer system through cell phones that will make cash-for-work payments safer and faster,” said UNDP associate administrator Rebeca Grynspan.

“With the use of the massive payout network of the Land Bank of the Philippines coupled with Smart’s extensive telecommunications infrastructure and mobile money platform capability, we are confident that we can deliver what is expected of us in terms of service reliability,” added Land Bank president and CEO Gilda Pico.

Luiza Carvalho, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator and UNDP resident representative, said that the mobile cash transfer system “will also speed up the recovery effort as it will align emergency employment cash-for-work programs with the national DSWD activities.”

For his part, Smart Communications and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. chairman Manuel Pangilinan said the use of the technology is an “important contribution to disaster relief and recovery programs because of its direct benefit to those who survived this recent calamity.”

As of yesterday, Typhoon Yolanda has left 6,109 people dead and most of them are still unidentified, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said. – With Jaime Laude, Joseph Lariosa

 

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