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Buying Lebanese greens with a Lebanese green card
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Buying Lebanese greens with a Lebanese green card

How a small green card makes a big difference for vulnerable Lebanese

Montaha was born into a poor family and is now raising a poor family. But with a green debit card from the Government of Lebanon, she’s hoping to break the cycle of poverty.

Down a dusty lane, under one roof, Montaha lives with her seven children and her frail 88 year old mother in law, Amneh. The house is dusty and bare save for a cluttered kitchen counter.

She is unable to work. Her husband can usually find casual labour for one day out of two, but his earnings go entirely on rent. At the end of the month there is nothing left over and every day is a struggle.

The family is 100 percent dependent on Lebanon’s social safety net system.

“We used to have debts for everything: for rent, for school fees, at the shop. Everything,” explained Montaha. “But now, I can buy the food we need, not just the food we could afford.”

Every month, Montaha’s family — like 10,000 others in Lebanon — receives financial support loaded onto a green debit card. Under the Government of Lebanon’s National Poverty Targeting Programme (NPTP), the poorest families receive a bundle of assistance, one portion of which is for food.

Over five years, WFP carefully selected the 500 shops in Lebanon that it does business with. Those are the shops that meet the most stringent standards. Shops that display the WFP logo outside sell food to those families holding the green card. Eligible individuals receive US$ 27 each on the card each month.

Social safety net survival

“Mom buys greens, beans, rice, eggs and meat,” explained Montaha’s seven year old Karim.

Adequate nutritious food is a basic human need. It is a cornerstone of the second Sustainable Development Goal - Zero Hunger; a priority for the Government of Lebanon’s NPTP and the driving impetus for WFP.

The food component of the NPTP is currently funded by Germany following a generous EUR 10 million contribution this year. That donation ensures that 50,000 of the poorest Lebanese have the ability to buy the nutritious food that they need, when they need.

Benefits beyond the kitchen

Germany’s contribution represents a significant injection of cash into the Lebanese economy; it is money spent in Lebanese shops, it boosts the local economy and it maintains hundreds of local jobs.

The support also offers Montaha hope. She is able to send her children to school with full stomachs. With that small green card, she is giving her children a chance that she never had.