Cut barriers in food distribution to Cyclone victims, UN official says to govt

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By Mutare Correspondent

GOVERNMENT should work on a system which minimises bureaucracy in the distribution of aid to the victims of Cyclone Idai, a top UN official has said.

UN Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe, Bishow Parajuli said this during a brief meeting with Minister of State for Manicaland, Ellen Gwaradzimba in the eastern border city of Mutare Tuesday.

Parajuli was accompanying a European Union (EU) delegation which was led by Ambassador Timo Olkkonen to Cyclone hit areas of Chimanimani and Chipinge.

The delegation was on a mission to assess the situation on the ground and get a full appreciation of the impact caused by the hostile weather phenomenon.

Cyclone Idai battered south eastern Manicaland province and Port of Beira in Mozambique some two weeks ago, leaving a trail of death and destruction. Hundreds of people were left homeless while some are still missing.

“My humble request is let us work on a system which minimises bureaucracy and maximise benefit to the people and well-coordinated,” said Parajuli.

“In the immediate period of the first two weeks, a lot relief is coming from individuals. So, obviously you want to put that in a warehouse and then distribute, etcetera, but as that food is finished, you need to plan it in little bit longer term plan until new harvest.

“…And how we have it working in past with ministry of social welfare is identifying area of cooperation because a lot of response from UN goes in as direct cash transfer to individuals.

“Therefore this is not going to be food but also cash transfer is going to be made through the cellphone, econet ecocash system. So my humble request is let us work on a system which minimises bureaucracy and maximise benefits to the people,” he said.

Parajuli added: “At the end of the day, you as a minister should be fully aware where the support is being given to, to whom and what for. You need to be assured all these needs are met.”

He said there is need to keep a bit of openness in the system for effectiveness, adding “we want also in a way to continue to promote markets and economic systems. Those elements of transparency and accountability are very critical”.

Parajuli assured that the UN is committed to assisting the people of Manicaland in their most difficult hour.

“Going forward, we need to meet people`s needs directly and our suggestion will be a team of UN colleagues, civil society will be stationed here to work with you and your staff.

“We need to take these different modalities in the way for the sake of efficiency and effectiveness of the programme.”

He said the UN will need to give the victims agricultural inputs to ensure that they stand on their own in the next agricultural season.

In response, Gwaradzimba said government was in the process of implementing devolution to do away with bureaucracy and red tape.

She said the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) national office was also stationed in Mutare for the purpose of making quick decisions and responses.

“No case of delay or red tape has been experienced. A proper management system is being put in place to look at short, medium and long term projects. We don’t want our people to continue relying on hand-outs but there should be sustainability,” she said.