U.N. to deliver food aid by text message

We’ve reached a very strange point in human history when it is assumed that people who don’t have access to food will have working cell phones: In a test project targeting 1,000 Iraqi refugee families, the United Nations agency will send a 22-dollar (15-euro) voucher every two months by SMS to each family, who will ...

We've reached a very strange point in human history when it is assumed that people who don't have access to food will have working cell phones:

In a test project targeting 1,000 Iraqi refugee families, the United Nations agency will send a 22-dollar (15-euro) voucher every two months by SMS to each family, who will be provided with a special SIM card.

The beneficiary can then exchange the electronic voucher for rice, wheat flour, lentils, chickpeas, oil, canned fish, cheese and eggs at selected shops.

We’ve reached a very strange point in human history when it is assumed that people who don’t have access to food will have working cell phones:

In a test project targeting 1,000 Iraqi refugee families, the United Nations agency will send a 22-dollar (15-euro) voucher every two months by SMS to each family, who will be provided with a special SIM card.

The beneficiary can then exchange the electronic voucher for rice, wheat flour, lentils, chickpeas, oil, canned fish, cheese and eggs at selected shops.

Addressing concerns about mobile phone ownership among the refugee population, WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella said all the 130,000 Iraqi refugees currently receiving food aid from the agency in Syria have mobile phones.

Update: UN Dispatch’s Matthew Cordell has more.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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