To scale up government efforts to curb the impact of the pandemic, international development and humanitarian organization Oxfam and technology giant Microsoft partnered to provide cash assistance to low-income families of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients in Quezon City.
Oxfam Pilipinas country director Lot Felizco said the cash assistance would be initially provided to 90 families in areas identified to have high cases of COVID-19, such as in barangays Batasan Hills and Culiat in Quezon City, which are under strict community quarantine.
“We shall use digital cash transfer through an electronic prepaid card to reduce the risk of virus transmission and to manage a safe, quick, and transparent cash transfer. This also provides the affected communities more access to financial services,” Felizco said.
The cash assistance amounting to a little over $100 (P5,000), which is based on the government’s Social Amelioration Program, will support families to buy food and medicines, as well as pay for their utilities and other essential needs.
“We are deeply invested in this initiative and the greater cause,” said Andres Ortola, country general manager of Microsoft Philippines. “As an organization, we recognize the role and responsibility we have in making sure our customers, partners, and communities are able to respond and adapt to the situation we’re all facing. Through Oxfam, we are able to live up to that commitment and deliver aid and assistance to the hard-hit communities of Quezon City.”
Digital financial services
Aside from cash assistance, Oxfam and Microsoft will also provide hygiene kits, face masks, vitamins, and health supplements to the families of COVID-19 patients to mitigate the risks of virus transmission in their families and communities.
During the distribution of hygiene kits, there will also be hygiene promotion sessions to contribute to efforts to contain the spread of the disease.
The project will be implemented by Oxfam together with the Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA) and its community partners in the two barangays.
Oxfam has pioneered the use of digital financial services in humanitarian response efforts. Since 2016, Oxfam and its partners have reached over 6 million Filipino families, as well as local micro and small businesses affected by emergencies in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Eastern and Western Samar, Marawi, Cagayan and Rizal, among others.
Through this initiative, Oxfam and Microsoft hope to strengthen collaborative efforts among development agencies, the government, and the private sector to contribute to efforts to reduce poverty and vulnerability.