HARARE: The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said Thursday it is seeking 6.5 million U.S. dollars to provide food and financial aid to more than 12, 000 refugees at Zimbabwe’s Tongogara Refugee Camp for the next three years.
WFP deputy country director Niels Balzer told Xinhua that it would be more helpful if the donors can provide funding for livelihood programs, in addition to in-kind donations to ensure the refugees become self-reliant.
“While food and in-kind donations are welcome and very important, we also need to have concurrent parallel investment into livelihood activities for the refugees,” Balzer said.
He added: “Investment in livelihood projects would assist us in that we don’t want to continue spoon feeding the refugees but we want them to look after themselves just like other normal families. With proper support the refugees can look after themselves.”
He emphasized that continuous supply of humanitarian assistance to the refugees was critical, in as much as they were also looking for support for livelihood projects.
The WFP is currently giving 13 dollars per month per person to 12, 517 refugees in the camp.
The camp’s refugee population has been rising rapidly, from 5,000 in 2015 to the current 20,410, due to escalating conflicts in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Balzer said the funding they require for the next three years to 2021 may increase given the increasing number of refugees into the camp, situated in Chipinge district in Manicaland Province.
The camp is receiving on average 150 asylum seekers every month and a total of 1, 382 refugees arrived at the camp in the first 10 months of this year.
The WFP began managing the food assistance program for refugees at the camp in 2015 when refugee population rose above 5,000.
The WFP in partnership with UNHCR and other aid organizations has already started income generating projects for the refugees.
“Together with UNHCR we are working strongly on the self-reliance agenda. We want to see strong investments in livelihood activities such as piggery and poultry projects to bring more income to the refugees so that eventually we can take a step back and they become self- sustaining,” Balzer said.
He added that they would want donor support in irrigation development at the camp as well as projects for the youths.
“We would like the irrigation scheme to be expanded because the government of Zimbabwe has indicated that there is an extra 25 hectares that can be exploited for irrigation. Currently there are 25 ha under irrigation and further expansion means more families will be taking part in farming activities.”
Funding was also welcome in activities for the youth to equip them with life skills and a source of income, Balzer said.
“Although most of the youths go to school, after that they have nothing to do so we would like to have some projects that can help youths to sustain themselves.
“We are looking at things like carpentry and self skills projects which would really assist us to ensure that they are able to look after themselves.” Balzer said.