As recovery continues, USAID and IOM implement Voucher Assistance Program

USAIDBy Katlyn Murray - APRIL 2016
It has been just over a year since Typhoon Maysak struck Chuuk and Yap States affecting 29,700 people. Many are still struggling to recover from this devastating natural disaster.
USAID, along with its Implementing Partner, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), continue to provide assistance to those in need. Thus far, the US Government sponsored relief and reconstruction program has provided supplementary food assistance, agricultural assistance, logistics support, shelter coordination, and water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions.
USAID and IOM are currently implementing a voucher assistance program in Chuuk designed to help affected households replace necessary commodities that were lost or destroyed during Maysak.
According to IOM Head of Chuuk Sub- Office Ryan McVey, “The Voucher program is the flexible portion of the assistance which allows the families to self-identify their own needs and receive a boost in purchasing power to meet those needs. For example, a family may need to supplement their Housing Repair Kits with additional lumber or roofing, OR perhaps they feel it is most important for them to replace an appliance that was damaged, OR perhaps food is their most immediate need.“
Beneficiaries of the Voucher Assistance Program in Chuuk State have the ability to purchase the items that they deem necessary from approved vendors in Weno. “The only items that are not eligible under the program are tobacco products, alcohol, beetle nut, and firearms.” McVey says.
In Chuuk, 1,183 households will benefit from the voucher program with a total price tag of $1,324,600.00. As of April 13, 2016, 255 vouchers with a total amount of $286,400 have been distributed, and of that amount $118,994.00 (or 41%) has already been redeemed.
IOM Head of Yap Sub-Office Philip Raffilpiy describes the Voucher Program as a “community collective” in Yap State. In staying true with the culture and tradition of the islands in Ulithi Atoll and Fais, affected individuals have decided to pool their assistance together in order to benefit the entire community, not just those affected by the storm. A total of US $ 223,300 is being given to affected communities in Yap’s Outer Islands. The funds can be used for replacing goods lost or destroyed by Typhoon Maysak, to supplement the Housing Repair Kits, which were distributed in Yap last December, or to purchase any essential items that the community deems necessary to help them recover.
According to USAID’s Kenneth Tingman, “The overall goal of the Voucher Assistance Program is to supplement assistance that has already been provided and to give individual families a choice in a portion of the assistance that they are receiving. Additionally, by allowing families to purchase items in local shops, it also puts money back into the community. The program has been so successful in Chuuk that new vendors have already approached us about being added to the approved vendor list. This is good news for the economy.”

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