The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society’s (zrcs) emergency appeal cash transfer programme has brought relief to communities in Mashonaland East province as the organisation seeks to provide relief in the face of drought.
By Our Correspondent
The cash transfer programme is the first phase of a $5 million emergency appeal in response to the drought situation and is backed with a $2 million disbursement of funds.
The first recipients of the programme left Kotwa Business Centre a happy lot on Thursday and ZRCS secretary-general Maxwell Phiri said they were doing all they can to alleviate the suffering of the affected communities.
“What you have seen today is the initial phase of the cash-transfer programme which is targeting affected rural communities and we are grateful to our partners for their timely support in this district,” he said.
“Zimbabwe and indeed the entire region has been largely affected by the El Niño-induced drought and we hope our intervention will help save lives.”
Response initiatives in other districts will be funded by various partners of the ZRCS, among them the British Red Cross, Danish Red Cross, Finnish Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, American Red Cross and Norwegian Red Cross.
Most of the recipients, among them lactating mothers, the elderly as well as widows and child headed families, thanked the Red Cross for their intervention in the face of the ravaging drought.
“Truth be told, 2016 has been a difficult year and the only other year that compares to the situation we are experiencing is 1992. We never had any harvest from the fields and even last year was a better year for us. Our animals are dying and water sources have dried. It’s really sad that we are surviving on one meal a day. We are very grateful for this Red Cross support,” said 83-year-old Jestina Kondo.
The emergency appeal project is presently covering five districts, namely Kariba in Mashonaland West, Mudzi in Mashonaland East, Muzarabani in Mashonaland Central, Chipinge in Manicaland and Mwenezi in Masvingo with the cash transfer component. It will be extended to cover Lower Gweru in Midlands, Gwanda in Matabeleland South and Binga in Matabeleland North.
Other components of the programme will include agricultural seed support as well as water and sanitation activities that will see 30 boreholes being rehabilitated in Gwanda and Lower Gweru.
On the developmental initiatives, Phiri said it was important that beyond the remedial support they capacitate communities to better prepare and respond to disasters like drought.
“The Red Cross is looking at empowering the affected communities, which is why beyond the emergency relief efforts we are also looking at supporting communities with seed support to guarantee better harvests in the event of adequate rains. We are also looking at water and sanitation so that we provide potable water which is safe from water-borne diseases,” he said.
ZRCS has over the years continued to champion community-driven programmes, among them food security and livelihoods, water and sanitation, health and social services, disaster preparedness and management, restoration of family links, youth, orphans and vulnerable children support as well as first aid and nurse aide training services.