FDH Bank officials assisting one of the beneficiaries (standing)
* Each household received K75,000 at K25,000 each month from August to October
* Food and income deficits at which vulnerable households are at risk, is equivalent to IPC Phase 3 acute food insecurity
* With children being more at risk of malnutrition and other negative outcomes
* Caused by negative coping mechanisms that families may employ to meet their needs
By Duncan Mlanjira
Following results of Household Economy Analysis (HEA) that show that poorest households will face food and income deficits from October till March, Save the Children has initiated cash transfer programme for 2,275 food insecurity households in 13 village communities of Traditional Authority (T/A) Mbiza in Zomba District.
The official launch of the ‘Anticipatory Action’ for 2022-2023 lean season, was held on Thursday at Jenala Village with each household receiving K75,000 at K25,000 each month from August to October with funding from Save the Children Humanitarian Fund.
The Household Economy Analysis indicates that food and income deficits at which the vulnerable households are at risk, is equivalent to IPC Phase 3 acute food insecurity — with “children being more at risk of malnutrition and other negative outcomes caused by negative coping mechanisms that families may employ to meet their needs.”
At the launch, Save the Children’s director of operations Frank Mwafulirwa — while asking the beneficiaries to spend the money prudently — said the cash transfers are meant to help them stockpile food as well as buy some small livestock such as chicken.
The anticipatory action — dubbed ‘Kuyiponyera Kutali’ — complements the Resilience Economic Development (RED) programme the international charitable organization carries out in T/A Mbidza and other communities that include provision of vocational skills training; inculcating healthy living and nutrition; environmental conservation; growing of soil enriching crops and several others initiatives.
The RED programme is carried by the communities’ Village Civil Production Committees (VCPC) that also promote village bank activities to cultivate a culture of saving in order to buy farm inputs.
The VCPC’s are also equipped with a cellphone that is connected to the Department of Climate Change & Meteorological Services, through which they are updated of weather patterns in order to be well prepared in case of impending storms — after learning from the Cyclone Ana disaster which also affected T/A Mbiza.
The occasion was well patronized by the community members as well as visiting delegates that included director of social welfare in Zomba District Council, Ted Mkumba as guest of honour; deputy director in the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), Fyawupi Mwafongo and several others — who were appraised by the VCPC on the interventions which they carry out in their various communities.
These include observing proper nutritional provision to children in order to avert malnourishment; providing and encouraging people to plant at least 12 trees around their homes that include fruit trees, stockpiling of maize in case of food shortage and participating in village bank setup (banki mmudzi).
Each family is supposed to donate the maize which is then distributed to a household that is faced with food insecurity as well as cash handout through interests gained in banki mmudzi. The vocational skills include carpentry, tailoring, welding, beauty salons and phone repairing.
Mwafulirwa applauded all chiefs for their positive contributions in identifying — in a transparent manner — beneficiaries of the anticipatory action, who did not harvest enough food in the just-ended harvest season.
He said vulnerability factors that were considered included persons with disability, child-headed households (orphan-headed households or where the parent or grandparent is incapable of undertaking the usual head of household roles), elderly-headed households (more than 60 years old), those with a chronically ill member, those with Under-5 malnourished children or child receiving supplementary or therapeutic feeding.
“Anticipatory action is taken in anticipation of a crisis,” he said. “This includes forecast-based action but also includes actions taken after a shock — with the goal of preventing a shock from developing into a crisis.
“Its objective is to assist families to better cope with the difficult months and mitigate the use of negative coping strategies and gender equality and inclusion is also considered in the programming, such as promoting joint decision-making at the household level, engaging stakeholders that represent girls and people with disabilities.”
These interventions are made in direct liaison with Zomba District Council, DoDMA and the traditional chiefs that also include multi-sectoral nutrition coordination by strengthening referral of pregnant and lactating women and caregivers with children under two years old to existing care groups for continued exposure to nutrition.
Mwafongo attested that according to DoDMA’s survey, over 3 million people are at threat of food insecurity up to March next year with Zomba at over 162,863 households, saying the Department also has interventions before it happens through distribution of food packs and relief cash transfers.
In his remarks, Mkumba — who represented Zomba DC — applauded the positive strides being made by Save the Children and the community members themselves, saying: “The intervention before disaster strikes is a good initiative.
“It is also teaching the communities themselves to be proactive by stockpiling food and joining banki mmudzi as a savings culture to buy farm inputs and keep children in school.
“This is part of the development agenda of the government and we appreciate the interventions by other partners such as Save the Children,” he said, while urging the gathering continue with this ‘Kuyiponyera Kutali’ concept in order to cushion and sustain themselves from some emerging climate shocks.