14 October 2020, Tegucigalpa, Honduras – Today, the Government of Honduras, with support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched “Single Voucher” (Bono Unico), an innovative social protection program aimed at supporting the most vulnerable population affected by COVID-19 in Honduras. The Single Voucher is a one-time subsidy of $82 dollars (2,000 lempiras) delivered through an electronic voucher that can be exchanged for food, medicine and /or medical supplies to up to 260,000 persons in the country in the next three months.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was invited by the Government of Honduras to partner with them in this initiative and support the identification, selection and delivery of the Single Voucher to the most vulnerable working or unemployed population.
“The Single Voucher is a milestone that brings social benefits to the most vulnerable. In collaboration with UNDP, the process has been rigorous and with high transparency standards. This is money of the people of Honduras in favor of the most affected by the pandemic and is an opportunity for the Government to fulfil its promise of social justice” added the President of Honduras, Juan-Orlando Hernández.
Under the leadership of the National Center for Social Sector Information (CENISS) and with support of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) of the University of Oxford, UNDP developed a robust identification and selection process using the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI).
“COVID-19 has deepened the inequalities in the region, and years of social advancement might be lost. By creating and using robust methodologies, UNDP is helping the government of Honduras reach vulnerable populations most affected by the pandemic using a transparent and rigorous selection process. With the development and use of this innovative targeting mechanism, the Government of Honduras set itself at the forefront of social protection programs, and demonstrates a commitment to reach the vulnerable based on solid evidence” said Luis-Felipe López-Calva, UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The MVI measures who is most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 according to a number of overlapping variables, including the risk the virus poses to their health, and the financial consequences of pandemic measures adopted by the government on their households. Through the use of the MVI the Government of Honduras and UNDP aim to increase transparency in social protection programming by ensuring that the vouchers reach the most vulnerable population affected by COVID-19.
According to Sabina Alkire, Director of OPHI, “the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index is an innovative and technically robust tool that offers the Honduran government a groundbreaking way of interpreting their data accurately and fairly to reach the most vulnerable first. This is one of the first times anywhere in the world that individuals will be selected for COVID-related support on the basis of an assessment of their vulnerability to COVID in multidimensional terms”.
To reach the population safely and faster, the voucher distribution is by means of an electronic notification to the mobile phone of the beneficiaries who will be able to exchange the subsidy in authorized establishments nationwide. For this purpose, UNDP partnered with one of the largest banks in the country to provide multiple options where the population can redeem the voucher. In addition, UNDP and the Government worked with mobile telephone companies operating in the country in to validate the existence of telephone lines. Furthermore, to reach the population that does not have an enabled telephone service or cannot count with one from someone they trust, the program is providing them a cell phone card (SIM CARD) to receive the transfer.
For the UNDP Resident Representative in Honduras, Richard Barathe, “the innovative aspect of this intervention is the combination of a robust and multidimensional selection process, the commitment to digitization using an innovative mechanism for dispersion and a social oversight that makes its application scalable and replicable to other contexts”.
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