Cash transfer saves lives, drives innovation for resilience

Source: Cash transfer saves lives, drives innovation for resilience | The Financial Gazette September 15, 2016

…. As drought leaves 52 897 facing starvation in Chiredzi

AT least 52 897 households the rural population in Chiredzi are food insecure. At the moment 22 179 households are receiving assistance from government, United Nations, donors, and non-governmental organistaions.

These rural communities have also begun a long journey to adaptation and resilience building to withstand future shocks caused recurrent droughts and effects of climate change.

Addressing journalists after winding-up a three-day-long field mission to drought affected rural wards in Chiredzi district, Bishow Parajuli UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative said, “The cash transfer relief assistance undertaken through Ecocash in Chikovo, irrigation schemes in Magogogwe, saving and lending schemes in Panganayi are transforming the lives of the communities, building resilience, while also giving long lasting connectivity among far to reach the rural households with access to information.” “These efforts have to be scaled up to reach more people in need and commended donors for their support.”

In Chikovo ward, cash transfer relief efforts by Plan International has been reaching a total of 11 500 beneficiaries, each receiving on average US$35 per household through Ecocash to meet the average daily calorie requirements (2 100 Calories). Targeted beneficiaries have been attending trainings on resilience-building activities on: nutrition, asset management, natural resource management and post-harvest management. The programme funded by the European Union/ECHO seeks to reach 78 000 drought affected people through cash transfers.

In Magogogwe ward, an Irrigation scheme will sustain livelihoods of some 360 farmers with support from WFP, UNDP, Oxfam, government and Plan International by irrigating 50 hectares. This joint cooperation ensures target beneficiaries to get the best support out of each partners. Since the intervention began eight hectares have so far become functional allowing 111 farmers to engage in irrigation farming with each farmer accessing 0.05 hectares earning on average US$30 per month brining self-reliance among the farmers, who are mostly women.

In Panganayi ward, community led saving and credit scheme supported by UNDP and implemented by Plan international and Oxfam has managed to facilitate the drilling of the borehole and establish 0,25ha nutrition garden benefitting 22 households as part of recovery and adaptation mechanism to combat effects of climate change. The households are able to grow a diverse range of vegetables throughout the year through “Drip system” using innovatively locally available used plastic bottles.

Parajuli said:  “These joint relief, recovery and resilience efforts by the multiple-stakeholders have enabled in maximising the impact of the limited resources to provide much need support to the affected communities.”

Nationwide, as the result of the drought, some 4,1 million rural people will not only be food insecure during the peak hunger period of January to March 2017 but the situation also threatens to reverse the development gains we have made over the past five years to resuscitate basic social services.

In response to the Government’s appeal issued earlier this year, the United Nations, humanitarian partners and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) developed a Humanitarian Response Plan through a collaborative and joined-up efforts. The focus of the plan is to save lives, while ensuring linkages to early recovery and resilience building programmes.

Of the US$360 million requested for the period of April 2016 to March 2017 under the Humanitarian Response Plan, nearly US$190 million has been committed by several donors enabling the UN and humanitarian partners to reach 1,5 million people with relief assistance. Given the rise of affected population from 2,8 million to 4,1 million, the response plan is currently being revised.

The funding to the humanitarian response plan, thus far, has been made possible by the generosity from Governments of the USA, UK, China, the European Union and the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund and many others.

Since the onset of the drought, thus far, over 1,5 million people have received food assistance, through in-kind assistance and cash-based transfers from WFP and a number of NGOs such as CARE, Save the Children, and World Vision. In addition, over 8 000 households received subsidized survival stock feed saving 13 000 cattle from deaths from FAO.

A total of 270 boreholes and 3 piped water schemes were rehabilitated, restoring safe water supply to nearly 75 000 people by UNICEF. And over 100 000 people were reached with critical life-saving water, sanitation and hygiene non-food items and messages. Moreover, over 65 000 people received non-food items and over 200 000 children were screened for malnutrition and provided with nutritional support by UN and NGOs.

Appreciating the ongoing joint efforts by the Government, United Nations agencies, donors, and the communities which have so far averted any loss of human life and protected asset-base of the poor, Parajuli called on for continued support to reduce suffering among the affected communities and engage towards resilience building and climate change adaptation programmes.

The field mission was also joined by representatives from the Government, Oxfam, and Plan International.