WFP to scale up food assistance to urban dwellers

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By Ndatenda Njanike

THE UNITED Nations in Zimbabwe (UN in Zimbabwe), through the World Food Programme (WFP), will expand its social assistance fund by introducing an e-voucher scheme pilot in Epworth, Harare, which, if successful, will benefit over 224 000 vulnerable families in urban areas.

In its latest weekly Covid-19 update, the UN said its target was to start assisting 124 000 families before beneficiaries rise to a total of 224 000 families in urban communities.

“WFP has launched an e-voucher pilot in Epworth (Harare) which will be closely monitored over the next two months to evaluate its effectiveness and impact. This alternative modality will ensure that the transfer value is preserved and that beneficiaries will be able to get guaranteed access to essential commodities in local retail shops,” the UN said.

“The United Nations will expand urban social assistance programme to reach 124 000 new beneficiaries with food. Combined with the existing caseload, the World Food Programme (WFP) anticipates reaching a total of 224 000 beneficiaries.”

Meanwhile, the UN said the Covid-19 induced lockdown and socio-economic stresses have led to a significant spike in sexual and gender-based violence incidences in Zimbabwe.

“In response, the Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls is scaling up activities related to gender-based violence prevention and services in Zimbabwe.

“Spotlight Initiative implementing partners such as Musasa Project have continued to provide essential services to survivors of gender-based violence during the national lockdown. In an effort to inform the public on the availability of services to survivors, the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office has produced a video animation with key contacts of service providers supported by the Spotlight Initiative, Dutch Embassy in Zimbabwe, and other partners.”

Zimbabwe is currently facing multiple hazards, which include widespread economic shocks, recurrent drought, a severe food insecurity crisis, recovery from the devastating Cyclone Idai, risk of outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, and now the Covid-19 pandemic.