Cash Transfers Bring Hope to Drought Stricken Binga

VILLAGERS in Binga, Matebelend north province have been thrown a lifeline following the introduction of a cash transfer initiative which seeks to address the prevailing food insecurity situation dogging the district.

By Michael Gwarisa in Binga

The cash transfer initiative is being funded by Save the Children through funds from different member organisations of the Save the children and support from the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC).

Briefing Journalists during a nutrition field visit in Binga district, Save the Children nutrition manager, Mthulisi Dube said Binga needed urgent attention in terms of addressing the food security situation in the area.

“As you know, Zimbabwe has been having reoccurring droughts, this is our fourth or fifth year in which we are having droughts. Binga is one of the most affected areas so it’s Binga and Kariba that are in the Zambezi valley and they the most affected areas when it comes to droughts that have hit Zimbabwe.

“As Save the Children, we have been responding in each of the years that Binga district has been hit by droughts, we have been here since 1983 responding to the needs of the communities in Binga. This year when the drought hit, the United Nations (UN) and government released the flush appeal, which is a request for different partners to help in supporting relief work. Save the children responded to the drought through our central seed funding,” said Dube.

He added that they are working in five wards namely Siachilaba, Kariangwe, Chinonge, Simatelele and Ngani where they are disbursing cash transferes in hard currency to vulnerable and affected communities.

“We are responding through cash transfer to the affected communities. In those five wards we are targeting 4000 people from 947 households. Each individual gets US$9.00 per month and our interventions is for three months. It was meant to cover the extended lean season period but I am sure looking at the forecast and it shows that the drought is continuing so there will likely be an extended lean period

“As Save the Children, we are really looking into trying to get more funding to cushion the communities until they are able to get to the next harvest. The US$9.00 per person per household is used to procure food items. As we were planning we were hoping that the amount will translate to 10 kilograms maize meal, cooking oil and pulses,” he said.

He also indicated that through their community based interventions, they have noted that the rise in prevalence of acute malnutrition levels in under five-children is one indicator of food insecurity at households.

Erita Mwinde (55) a Siachilaba Villager said the program has benefited her and her children but wishes the team stays on the ground longer up to the next harvest season since the situation of the ground could degenerate into a crisis the moment aid stops coming through.

“The cash transfer program started in April, and whenever I get the money I use it to buy at least 50 kg of maize meal, sugar and salt or cooking oil.

“We had a bad year, we did not harvest anything, and everything wilted including the small grains (finger millet) we had grown. We thank Save the Children and the ministry of health for bringing this program to us. However, we hope they stay longer up until we get back on our feet, as it stands, the drought is still with is us and we still need help.”

Meanwhile, District Nutritionist in the ministry of health, Vanessa Mukundwa said Binga was under imminent threat of malnutrition as evidenced by the large numbers of admissions amongst children and women.

“Binga has always been in the red for the past five years. We are also expecting an increase in the number of malnutrition cases from the recent drought that we are experiencing.

“We are experiencing a high number of admissions especially children. Food insecurity is quite high and as MoHCC, we see this mostly in children and the women, most of our programs are now centred around women and children to try and decrease whatever we can to try and help those that are vulnerable,” said Mukundwa.

She also said the ministry, Save the children and village health workers were conducting active case screening in communities where they screen cases at household level in order to manage the nutrition situation before it blows out of proportion.

“Using the smart survey that we did in January 2019, our global acute malnutrition rate are at 4.2 percent, so from that global acute malnutrition rate, we have what we call severe acute malnutrition and the moderate acute malnutrition rate.

“Our programs are trying to target the moderate malnourished children so that they do not deteriorate to a severe state.”

The food insecurity situation in Binga currently stands at 66.5 percent in and the most affected households are those with minimal or depleted cereal stocks, making them more dependent on market for food purchase, as well as agricultural labour opportunities linked to the cropping season.

The proportion of underweight children in Binga is at 15.2 percent and that of children with stunting is 25.2 percent. Minimal meal frequency for children under the age of two is 22.7 percent and the minimum dietary diversity children under the age tow is 2.3 percent.






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