Hampers of grain, beans and cooking oil will be given regularly to 100 000 households in eight urban areas in a new initiative being implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with the Government.
The new Urban Social Assistance programme, scaling up the social safety net for “at-risk” households, targets 100 000 food insecure families in Epworth, Harare South, Norton, Marondera, Rusape, Mutare, Bulawayo and Masvingo.
WFP and its partners are conducting a baseline survey that will assist in the identification and selection of food insecure households.
WFP has appealed for an additional US$211 million so it can continue both its rural and urban programmes targeting 4,1 million people.
Households that were previously receiving cash will now get a food basket comprising mealie-meal, beans and vegetable oil, while children under the age of five years in targeted areas will receive the nutritious Super Cereal.
Escalating prices of basic commodities and cash shortages have had a negative impact on the cash transfers programme.
Harare and Bulawayo residents have started receiving food aid under the Government and WFP programme.
“The pilot will run for one year. In addition to provision of food assistance through CBT (Cash Based Transfers), this will be accompanied by resilience-building interventions to promote the well-being of vulnerable households in the urban areas and their ability to cope with shocks and stressors in future.
“Implementation of resilience-building interventions will start in the first quarter of 2020 upon completion of the baseline exercise to identify the activities through community and stakeholder engagement.
“To implement the response plan at the revised level and reach 4.1 million people at the peak of the lean season, WFP requires an additional US$211 million, which is the funding gap. The total requirement for December to June is US$293 million,” WFP said in its appeal.
Recently, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lovemore Matuke said over 7 million people in urban and rural areas had been registered for food assistance from the Government and its partners.
According to the deputy minister, vulnerable families will get a monthly allocation of a 50kg bag of grain, but in extremely drought-stricken areas such as Chivi in Masvingo and 22 other districts around the country, beneficiaries will receive both grain and monthly cash handouts.
In Harare, 30 000 people are on the list, but only 15 000 are receiving food under the programme.
The remainder is yet to receive due to shortages, while some areas await Government approval procedures.
One of the beneficiaries at Dzivaresekwa Community Centre in Harare, Mrs Sizondo Makuni (83), hailed the programme and said providing food assistance to the elderly was a most welcome development.
She received a 50kg bag of sorghum.
“I cannot work anymore or do farming and l find it difficult to feed my grandchildren whose parents are late. I am grateful for this bag of sorghum for it will go a long way in feeding my family,’’ she said.
In the Midlands Province, all the District Development Coordinators (DDCs) superintending over the province’s five districts that border urban areas were still collating the figures for the households that will be under the food aid programme.
Midlands Provincial Development Coordinator Mr Abiot Maronge said the DDCs were liaising with local councillors to come up with a list of beneficiaries.
“The programme in urban areas will be rolled out very soon. At the moment there are modalities that are still to be done with regards to the number of households and how they will be receiving the Government help,” he said.
Mr Maronge said those in urban areas will be getting maize rations just like their counterparts in the rural areas who were already under the food aid programme.
Manicaland acting provincial social welfare officer Mr Masimba Machisa said WFP had engaged Mercy Corps to assess vulnerable households to ensure the intended beneficiaries receive aid.
“For Manicaland, we will initially focus on Mutare and Rusape as the programme is rolled out. We have 2 000 households in Mutare set to benefit and another 500 in Rusape. This translates to 10 000 individuals. The programme will not be able to cover all the wards in the districts, so an assessment is being carried out to see which wards have the most vulnerable people then we will take it from there,” he said.
Mr Machisa said the beneficiaries should start receiving aid in January.
“The beneficiaries will receive money which they are expected to use to buy basic commodities. We cannot say how much each household will receive at the moment, but they will receive the aid in monetary form,” he added.
For Masvingo, the registration of beneficiaries is underway in its two urban wards.
Masvingo provincial social welfare officer Mr Stanislaus Sanyangowe said the Government was working closely with WFP to start food relief operations in Masvingo City.
He said a pilot food aid programme for two wards in Mucheke suburb would start next month.
“Currently, food aid operations have not yet moved to urban areas in the province because we are still waiting for grain allocation from the Government, but WFP is starting a pilot programme targeting two wards in Masvingo Urban and registration of beneficiaries is underway.’’
Mucheke suburb has some of the most vulnerable families in Masvingo and the intervention by WFP would be handy to many desperate families.
“After the pilot feeding programme for the two wards in Mucheke, we hope that the scheme can be expanded to cover other urban centres across Masvingo,” he said.
Government will also be closely involved in the WFP pilot feeding scheme which will see beneficiaries getting maize and other basics like cooking oil and beans.
The close cooperation between the Government and partners like WFP will ensure there is no over-concentration of assistance in the same areas to the detriment of others.
“We will share feeding scheme registers with our partners so that there is no duplication by concentrating assistance in the same areas,” said Mr Sanyangowe.
Masvingo is among provinces with the highest number of food insecure families following a crippling drought last season.
The province always registers food shortages owing to erratic rains.
The prevailing harsh economic climate also left a large number of families in urban centres like Chiredzi, Gutu and Chivi in need of assistance.
There is an increase in the number of additional households that are in need of food aid in Mashonaland Central Province. About 70 080 people will receive 3 204 tonnes of maize.
There is an additional 58 220 people who need 2 911 tonnes of maize, Mashonaland Central provincial coordinator Mr Cosmas Chiringa said.
“Beneficiaries are failing to raise money to transport the maize from GMB depots to their respective wards since fuel prices are increasing. They are appealing to the Government to cater for transport costs, especially to vulnerable communities.
“They are also appealing for the return of DDF and Army trucks that used to ferry maize to wards. These are some of the challenges,” said Mr Chiringa.
He said approval has been sought for the delivery in advance of three months of grain to Mbire to avoid the problem of inaccessibility of the area during the rains.
In Matabeleland South Province, 6 890 households are set to benefit from the food aid programme that will soon be rolled out in three urban centres.
Provincial social services welfare officer Mr Criswell Nyakudya said they require 344.5 tonnes of grain for Beitbrige, Gwanda and Mangwe.
He said they had since sent their requisition to head office for processing.
“We are yet to receive the grain though we have compiled our list of requirements in the province.
“So far, we need 254.45 tonnes in Beitbridge town, 60 tonnes in Gwanda and 30 tonnes in Mangwe. Each household will receive a 50kg bag of maize,” said Mr Nyakudya.