Ester Mugodhi (42) from Shabuka Village, Ward 29 of Nyazura, Makoni District, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe, is one of the thousands of women headed households that is benefiting from the World Food Programme (WFP) supported Lean Season Assistance (LSA) programme where food insecure people are receiving cash to buy groceries.
A widow and grandmother looking after two orphaned children, Ester received her first cash transfer entitlement for October 2017 recently amid happiness. Although she was expected to access the money using a digital SCOPE card that will be used to swipe the food at community level, Ester got US$30 in form of cash for the month of October. WFP is still negotiating with grocery shops at community level who will be contracted to supply the grocery items to the people assisted under the programme using the SCOPE cards.
In a bid to promote fast, efficient and timely responses the programme is using the digital technology called SCOPE where beneficiaries are registered using a SCOPE registration mobile phone application and recipients of the cash are provided with what are called SCOPE cards which are like swipe cards. AAZ staff members registered the communities using the SCOPE technology while the people to be assisted by the programme will procure food items using the SCOPE cards at selected retail operators within the communities.
“I harvested four bags of maize in the 2016-2017 farming season and these will not last up to December 2017. I have only one cow and each year I must ask neighbours to assist with their cattle for draft power. Usually I plant late as I wait for cattle from other people to plough my fields. The money from the LSA programme will go a long way for my family,” said Ester who received US$30. She will receive the same amount of money monthly until March 2018.
“I will buy cooking oil, sugar, flour and rice from the cash transfer money. I look forward to joining other women in my community who are doing income savings scheme using the money from my casual jobs, which I would have used for the food. The money I will get from the savings scheme will be used to pay for the school fees for my grandchildren whose fees I have not been paying.
“My fear is that if I continue not paying their fees the one doing Grade 5 will not proceed to form 1 after finishing Grade 7. The schools will not my grandchild the Grade 7 results. The grandchild doing form 1 will not be able to continue with their education either,” said Ester.
Over and above providing communities with food aid, ActionAid is introducing complementary livelihoods interventions such as income savings schemes, conservation agriculture, small livestock management including disease prevention and control, and community structures strengthening. The community structures to be supported include Asset Management Committees such as dip tank committees which will be trained under the resilience building and sustainability component of the LSA programme. The complementary livelihoods interventions seek to build the resilience of community members such as Ester so that they can withstand future shocks and stresses and do not have to rely on donor dependency.
A total of 13 979 people from 13 wards in Makoni are being assisted under which will move to Nyanga District also in Manicaland from January to March 2018.