A Matter of Choice: How e-vouchers helped families meet their needs during the pandemic

Published: Jul 8, 2021 Reading time: 4 minutes
A Matter of Choice: How e-vouchers helped families meet their needs during the pandemic
© Nomin Munkhjargal, PIN Mongolia

“I am grateful for this E-voucher. There are a lot of families who are struggling with finances, they were not able to work due to the lockdown, leaving them unable to provide food for their families.” says Bayarsaikhan, one of the members of the Sain Naiz NGO, center for children with disabilities.

Since the very first domestic coronavirus transmission, Mongolia went into a nationwide strict lockdown on November 13th, 2020. Families unable to work during lockdown and struggling to provide for their families were faced with further hardships as Mongolia was forced to order a second and third lockdown due to soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases.

According to the World Bank, under the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployed and inactive individuals face further difficulties in searching for a job, leading to a greater likelihood of sinking into deeper poverty.

“In a crisis, it’s important that families and vulnerable groups are given the opportunity to purchase good based on their needs. Women and girls, people living with disabilities, and other groups of people have very different needs. It’s important to provide them with choice to provide support where it’s needed most,” explained G. Maral-Erdene, Project Manager at People in Need in Mongolia.

“That’s exactly what we did in this project – we empowered those most in need of support by giving them a choice. By doing so, we give a bit of normalcy and dignity back to those we serve.”

To further help families, as well as families with children with disabilities, People in Need (PIN), continued the SDC and German Embassy supported e-voucher programme – a 4 step process, where beneficiaries are able to choose essential items based on their individual needs.

The Emergency Relief project was fully funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to Mongolia.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection along with PIN were able to provide support to 1,402 households of Ulaanbaatar, Govi-Altai, Bayankhongor and Dungovi provinces by providing a food and basic essentials e-voucher with a value of 100’000 MNT through Nomin supermarket chains and local supermarkets from March to May 2021.

“There were no serious health effects. However, our family finances were affected. My husband rents a small tire repair shop. Due to this pandemic and the lockdowns, people are not fixing their cars anymore. Our daily income has decreased.” shared Buyandelger, a resident Saintsagaan soum, Dundgovi province.

“The 100’000 MNT E-voucher the families received truly came at a right time and was very useful. The children who go to our 24-hour kindergarten are really in shortage of food at home. The parents of the children were overjoyed. They kept thanking us and they told us that the help came just when they were starting to run out of food.”, said Altannavch, Director of the 94th kindergarten.

Many vulnerable families whose children and children with disabilities heavily rely on the assistance of such 24-hour kindergartens as well as centers like the Sain Naiz NGO for daily nutritious meals. Due to the pandemic lockdowns, havens like these have completely halted their operations, living many families with no way to support these children.

“Our kindergarten enrolls children from target groups based on certain criteria. The majority of the target groups are orphans, children whose parents have left for the country to work, and children who have been left with grandparents, foster parents or relatives. Most of the families are single mothers or fathers. In some cases, there are children whose parents have been imprisoned. In general, most of these children are from vunerable groups.” continued Altannavch.

People In Need explained that they are committed to protecting the rights, choices, and dignity during a humanitarian.

“I was really proud to work on a project that respected those that we serve. At the end of the day, we should remember that promoting and ensuring dignity is the most important outcome,” said Maral-Erdene.

Author: Nomin Munkhjargal, PIN Mongolia