The combined efforts of Oxfam and the Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC) has resulted in over 190 shops being ready across SANMA province to receive the clients who are being issued with Oxfam post TC Harold and COVID-19 support starting this week.

In a new and innovative approach, these families are receiving an electronic payment cards which can be used at local stores. An important part of this response is restoring choices to the families. They know what they need to recover, so rather than receiving traditional aid which often takes the form of lining up for goods, this time they can choose what they need most and go buy it. The variety of stores registered means they can purchase hardware, fresh food at the markets, garden tools, lumber and so much more.

The program has even registered boats, transport providers and buses so that the recipients can travel to their shopping locations and pay for transport through the electronic system too.

These shops and businesses also benefit as they are central to the recovery program.

This not only benefits the families in need but supports the economy too. When businesses recover, employment increases and more money flows around the whole community. With families having more choice, they have more dignity. Business owners are proud to participate too and have support it by stocking up ready for the customers and attending special training on the new technology.

This new approach relies on mobile phone technology and an app which has been created by Oxfam’s partner Sempo. The Unblocked cash program as it is known, is combining best practice in terms of humanitarian support alongside technology advances that are world class and happening first right here in Vanuatu. The use of modern technology approach goes all the way across the program right to the payment of the suppliers. This is done electronically directly into the shops bank account, thus improving financial literacy and uptake also.

Sincere thanks is extended to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade whos’ generous funding has made this initiative possible.

VBRC is a sub committee of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is a proudpartner to Oxfam in Vanuatu. For more information see and