Regional Director visits Zimbabwe’s worst El-Nino drought affected district

Friday 7 October 2016


Save the Children’s East and Southern Africa Regional Director David Wright, visited Siachilaba Ward in Binga District of Zimbabwe to witness the mobile cash transfer programme, currently being implemented in response to the emergency food insecurity. He was accompanied by Sarah Blin, the Country Director for  Save the Children in Zimbabwe.

The cash transfers initiative which is funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), is enabling 78000 food insecure families in Binga, Kariba, Gokwe South, Chiredzi, Nkayi, Bubi, Lupane, Chiredzi and Mutasa Districts to purchase food from local markets. This programming started in September 2015 and will continue until March 2017.

While at the Siachilaba, Wright observed beneficiaries cashing out their monthly allocations from a mobile cash transfer agent and later had a discussion with them on the way the programme is being implemented. During discussions with beneficiaries, Wright sought clarification on whether cash shortages being experienced in the country was affecting their monthly allowances, the availability of grain and other food stuffs on the local market and the mechanisms put in place for them to raise complaints or report any unscrupulous activity. He also asked them if the money they received was enough.

 In response, the programme beneficiaries told him that the main challenge faced especially by the elderly was when their mobile sim cards were blocked after entering wrong pin codes. This problem they said, would however be rectified within a few days after reporting. They also said at times they could not cash out their money because of the cash shortages and they had resorted to purchasing food  in the local shops through mobile cash transfers as well.

Commenting on the discussions with beneficiaries, Sarah Blin said she was impressed as the majority of project beneficiaries were women, the elderly, people living with HIV and those with disabilities. ”This means we are helping a wide group of people during this difficult time,” she said.

To further engage with beneficiaries, Wright and Blin visited  the homestead of Keresia Mwembe,  a 52 year old widow who stays with her three children and her mother whose age was estimated to be well above seventy years. Keresia has been receiving monthly cash allocations from Save the Children for the past five months and this has enabled her to have enough food to feed her family.

“My husband died leaving me to take care of our three children. Life has been a struggle because I had no source of income and I could not afford to feed my children. All along I have been surviving on casual labour and weaving baskets and the income I got was very little. Fortunately, when Save the Children introduced the cash transfer project, my fellow community members   selected me to be one of the beneficiaries of the cash transfer project.” Keresia said.

She added that she receives $28 every month which she uses to buy a 20kg bag of maize meal, 750ml of vegetable oil, 2kg sugar and salt.

“I am happy that I am one of the beneficiaries of this project. I am now able to provide food for my children,” said Keresia.

Wright was pleased that Keresia is now able to provide food for her family through Save the Children’s programming. He was delighted with the fact that the project is positively impacting on the beneficiary’s life.. He commended Save the Children in Zimbabwe team for the great work they are doing through the emergency response work in Binga, the most food insecure districts in Zimbabwe. 

“Binga is exactly where SC should be, this is where the most deprived people are. If we are not in Binga we are irrelevant in Zimbabwe,” said Wright.

Save the Children’s mobile cash transfer project covers Binga and Kariba districts, while its implementing partners Plan, World Vision and Care are also covering other districts, which are among the top 20 food insecure districts in Zimbabwe.