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The Road to Damascus: How ‘digital food’ is Helping Syrian Refugees

Over the last year I have had the privilege to work on MasterCard’s partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The partnership, which celebrated its one year anniversary this September, is committed to using the latest technology and innovations in food assistance to meet the needs of the world’s hungry and vulnerable populations.

Today, WFP in partnership with MasterCard announced the roll out of an innovative programme in Lebanon to provideFlickr Photo: Syrian refugees in Lebanon prepaid cards to Syrian refugees. This programme, which aims to reach around 800,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year, will provide families with prepaid electronic cards which they can redeem against a list of items at participating local stores. Initially starting as a pilot for some 10,000 Syrian refugees in the southern Lebanese town of Nabatiyeh, the programme is gradually being rolled out to other parts of the country and in the coming weeks will replace WFP’s paper food vouchers.

I am really proud that MasterCard’s technological prowess and payments innovation expertise is being used in this way – to help solve a massive global issue. This programme not only helps create greater financial inclusion for Syrian refugees by allowing recipients to buy food that fits their specific needs, but also contributes to the local economic infrastructure in the region.

Whilst working on this programme I have been reminded of the famous Albert Einstein quote: “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”. In partnering with WFP, MasterCard has committed to using technology and our vision of a world beyond cash as a solution to humanity’s greatest solvable problem – a world beyond hunger.