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Humanitarian response programme goes digital

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 09:03

In an effort to attain the Sustainable Development Goal 2 on Ending Hunger ActionAid Zimbabwe,  working in partnership with The World Food Programme (WFP),  has introduced  a electronic cash transfer  programme in Makoni and Nanga districts of Manicaland Province. The programme, which is a second phase of the Lean Season Assistance (LSA) programme is assisting people facing food insecurity using digital technologies to distribute the money as we seek to provide swift raid response humanitarian programmes.

The LSA seeks to mitigate short-term food insecurity in Makoni and Nyanga districts during the peak of hunger season from October 2017 to March 2018. The programme starts in Makoni from October 2017 while it will move to Nyanga from January to March.

In a bid to promote fast, efficient and timely responses the programme is using a 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 will register the communities using the SCOPE technology while the people to be assisted by the programme will use procure food items using the SCOPE cards at selected retail operators within the communities. The scope cards are the swipe cards people assisted will use to swipe for purchase of food stuffs.

ActionAid Makoni District Coordinator for the LSA programme, Succeed Chanetsa had the following to say about the new technology: “Using SCOPE cards is fast and efficient than the manual registration we were doing last year. Bioddata for people to be assisted is entered on a mobile phone while in the field by an officer and uploaded online later

The SCOPE technology is an inclusive digital methodology whereby those without national identity cards can still benefit from the programme. Some of the most vulnerable members of the community have failed to benefit from developmental programmes because of failure to produce a national ID. Some of the most vulnerable community members also fail to attend community meetings and are thus excluded from such programmes like food aid. In the SCOPE technology we can even register people in their absentia as long as they are selected by their communities.

“Communities will also will also be protected against price hikes that could be effected by retailers who may increase their food prices on hearing that there are community members who have received money under the programme through organising contractual arrangements with selected suppliers.

A total of 13 979 people facing food insecurity will be assisted by the LSA programme in the 13 wards in Makoni. Each person in a registered household will receive U$10 per month. If a family has five members, they will receive US$50 a month.  The scope cards will only work with points of sale provided to the selected retail operators and will be for purchasing food items only.

Councillor Mukoyi of Ward 30, Makoni, expressed gratitude over the efforts by ActionAid and WFP to ease hunger in his ward:

“We are very happy with the assistance we are getting from our partners. If it were not for them, we would really be struggling. Their help has come at the right time as we are struggling to make ends meet and I am sure the new technology that we are going to be using is reliable and accountable so that people do not divert funds and use them for other unreasonable things,” he stated.