WESTERN Union will help facilitate government payments to needy persons across Haiti.
Haitian mothers, university students, the handicapped and the elderly are among the hundreds of thousands who stand to benefit from easier access to the cash payments at more than 600 Western Union locations throughout the country, the government announced on Wednesday.
Government cash payments, known worldwide as conditional cash transfers, have become a successful tool to address the needs of the poorest sectors of societies all over the world. In Haiti, the government has developed a wide array of programmes to reach needy groups but, despite the programmes enjoying some amount of success, the cash payments were difficult to deliver over the course of the "last mile", owing mainly to the remoteness of certain locations.
For instance, the Haitian government said one of the most successful programmes called Kore Handicape et Ti gran Moun (Handicapped and elderly), provides a cash payment to 50,000 handicapped and elderly Haitians, who must be reached at home given their particular life circumstances.
To overcome these difficulties, the government sought partnerships with the private sector to help make these transfer payments easier to deliver to the thousands who receive them each month. Western Union, a leading global payment services company which already has an important presence in Haiti, proved to be an ideal partner.
"Mainly because of its expertise, Western Union's tools will help our government bridge the gap between our cash transfer programmes and the vast numbers of citizens nationwide who receive them," said Laurent Lamothe, Haiti's prime minister.
Lamothe added, "Our government has been seeking these relationships with companies such as Western Union to improve the delivery of services to its citizens by accessing state-of-the-art technology. Our linkage with Western Union shows how international businesses can play a key role in Haiti's recovery and its long term development."
Hikmet Ersek, president and chief executive officer of Western Union, noted that, "The introduction of our service in Haiti will help facilitate government payments supporting social programmes across the country, and is part of our business strategy to harness the power of our global money transfer platform."
Western Union also pledged to provide technical support to the government's free education programme called Ekol Gratis that has already incorporated 1.2 million children into the school system.