Lack of fuel to cook food was one of the greatest challenges facing the people housed at the United Nations refugee camp in Juba, South Sudan until earlier this year.
There was no source of fuel in the camp and seeking fuel beyond the boundaries of the camp was risky. Women and children would venture outside the safety of the manned boundaries of the camp to collect firewood or purchase charcoal if they could afford it.
To overcome this life-threatening problem, Oxfam started providing fuel efficient stoves, charcoal and commodity vouchers to inhabitants of the camp in February 2014 with support from the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).
In the camp, charcoal is now one of the main sources of fuel. Thanks to Oxfam’s charcoal voucher system, families are able to enjoy regular home cooked food without risking their lives.
Charcoal distribution in the camps
Oxfam’s charcoal voucher system was introduced to the camp in February 2014. They identified nine charcoal retailers within the camp. It was important that they were from within the camp to ensure that the income generated went back to supporting those in need.
Vouchers were then distributed to members of the camp with information on when and where the distribution would take place. The initial distribution targeted the most vulnerable members of the camp. After a successful pilot, Oxfam made blanket charcoal distributions to all members of the camp.
Oxfam also introduced commodity vouchers to complement the World Food Program (WFP) food distribution. Over 700 families received vouchers worth 150ssp (c.$25.50) which they could use to buy food and other items they might need in any of the thirty plus Oxfam affiliated vendors within the camp. This not only provides greater food choice, but also supports the vendors. Furthermore, in partnership with WFP, Oxfam distributes milling vouchers once a month alongside the general food distribution so that people can grind their grain with the millers inside the camps.
Oxfam’s holistic approach to food distribution ensures that all steps towards food security are taken. Oxfam is supporting over 27,000 people with milling and charcoal vouchers and targeted vulnerable households with commodity vouchers and fuel efficient stoves.