Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau
Over 5 000 families are receiving food support under the USAID-funded urban social assistance scheme that was launched by the World Food Programme (WFP).
The WFP’s partner, Lead, is spearheading the programme that is benefiting vulnerable families drawn from 10 wards in the town.
When more funding becomes available, more families will benefit.
Other partners working in some towns in Mashonaland West Province include World Vision in Kariba and Welthungerhilfe (WHH) in Chegutu.
Beneficiaries get US$12 per month and they are allowed to buy other items besides food, including farming inputs.
However, they are barred from buying alcohol and cigarettes using the grants.
Speaking after a tour of shops and some households benefiting from the support in Alaska and Shackleton last week, WFP spokesperson Ms Clere Neville said at least 22 areas across the country were benefitting under the programme.
“The cash assistance has a really important role play to the local economy,” she said. “Through giving this cash assistance, working with formal and informal retailers, we are hoping to ensure that these outlets have more stability and security in the future.”
USAID provides funds to give each beneficiary US$12 a month, which covers about 62 percent of human nutritional requirements.
Shop managers said there had been an increase in their sales of basic food items.
TM South manager, Mr Lucky Piyo, said: “Most people under the programme are coming here to purchase food stuffs including cooking oil, sugar, flour and roller meal. We have recorded huge sales in the past two months.”
Chinhoyi Metro-Peach manager Mrs Sunungurai Magwati said there has been an increase in consumers in recent months.
One of the beneficiaries, 68-year old widow, Ms Catherine Katuma, said her family was now getting three meals a day.
Ms Katuma has nine dependants who have been relying on her peri-urban farming plot and collections from her tenants.