Gvt, Oxfam aids drought-stricken Matobo

11 Aug, 2016 - 00:08 0 Views
Gvt, Oxfam aids  drought-stricken Matobo Villagers from Dewe Village in Ward 17, Matobo District receive their food rations

The Herald

Villagers from Dewe Village in Ward 17, Matobo District receive their food rations

Villagers from Dewe Village in Ward 17, Matobo District receive their food rations

Sydney Kawadza : Senior Features Writer

It is 2 o’clock in the afternoon and people are teeming at Ntunjambila Shopping Centre in Matobo District, Matabeleland South. The bustling crowd is different from villagers gathered to receive food relief from Oxfam/ORAP drought relief programme. Being a Monday afternoon there is nothing peculiar about a crowd milling aimlessly at the shopping centre. There is nothing for people to do at their homesteads.

The situation cuts across the whole district after a devastating el Nino-induced drought has brought agricultural production to its knees.

“This is the situation at most centres and it is quite unfortunate that in a situation like, all kinds of vices are associated with these times,” Mr Masotsha Khumalo says.

The district is characterized by drought and at most chronic food shortages.

The situation is even worse this year.

According to Oxfam in Zimbabwe, acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to continue among poor households in the south from June 2016 through March 2017.

“Typical livelihood and coping activities are lower than usual due to the poor harvests and a challenging economic environment (including poor liquidity and cash shortages).

“The demand for casual labour for harvesting continues to be low due to poor production. Other self-employment options such as construction have been affected by low demand due to poor liquidity.”

The severe food shortages has also brought with it associated problems such as a negative impact on water, hygiene and sanitation, school discontinuations, gender-based violence, early marriage and increased prevalence of HIV and Aids cases.

It is however the effect of the drought on women and children that has been of concern.

Oxfam has also noted during community discussions that girl child abuse is on the rise.

“Rise in the violence at the household level including increase in the number of young girls moving into sex trade. The food shortage has made young women and girls vulnerable to early marriage, teenage pregnancies, transactional sex and prostitution.

“The increase of risk exposure due to school dropout has made both boys and girls for early sexual initiation. The number of reports and incidences are likely to further increase as the lean season approaches.”

GBV means all acts perpetuated against women, men, boys and girls on the basis of their sex which causes or could cause them physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or economic harm, including the threat to take such acts, or to undertake the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on or deprivation of fundamental freedoms in private or public life in peace time and during situations of armed or other forms of conflict.

According to the Oxfam Rapid Gender Assessment for the Zimbabwe el Nino Drought Response, sexual and gender based violence is widespread in Zimbabwe, especially rape and domestic violence, but the crime is seriously under-reported.

“Food shortage was reported to be the cause of domestic violence. Internal fights are breaking out are becoming escalated every day. Both intimate partner violence and violence amongst siblings were reported to be happening,” the report said.

The forms of domestic violence reported were verbal abuse, economic and emotional abuse and physical abuse.

“The household stress and frustration is leading to blame shifting. Homes are disintegrating due to the hunger as women are leaving their houses. Misunderstandings are also escalating. Women were reported to be verbally and emotionally abusive while men are physical and economical abusers.”

The food shortages are forcing especially girls of minor age to get married.

“Girls mostly are getting married at age of 14 while boys marry at the age 16. In some cases young girls as old as Form 2 School going children are get married early and return back home with their children after few years.

“Even though communities are aware that early marriage is a crime, the reality is that it is happening, and more work should be done to control early marriages,” the report said.

The report also noted that transactional sex was found to be both an impact and means of coping for women and girls.

“Due to the hunger, young girl’s aged 10 to 16 years, and even married women, are being lured by men who have money-pensioners, and gold miners – are succumbing to transactional sex using unprotected sex, making them susceptible to a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, especially HIV and AIDS.”

In response, Oxfam in Zimbabwe is working with Government and partners in the country to respond to the current food crisis.

In Matobo district, Oxfam in partnership with the Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP), is distributing cash and food hampers to the affected families.

According to Oxfam country director Mr Machinda Marongwe, the aim of the response programme is threefold.

“That is, to provide immediate food assistance to address the food and hunger gap, provide assistance to restore agricultural and livelihood opportunities in affected districts and reduce morbidity and mortality by providing clean, safe water and by promoting good hygiene practice to populations severely affected by drought.”

He said the current interventions include cash transfers to affected population to ensure that food security at the household level is addressed.

“Markets are functional and cash programming was the identified option for a rapid and scaled up response in the country,” he said.

The response programme is currently supporting 32,825 people with food support through mobile money cash transfers.

“Each household member is given US$5 per month which translates to USD25 per household considering an average household size of 5 people.

“This amount is enough to cater for 50 percent of the basic family food basket which is currently estimated at US$50 to US$60 per month for a family of five.”

The cash transfer value will be adjusted to US$7 per family member next month.

“This is in line with the gradual increase in food prices and also to align with recommendations from the Cash Working Group,” Mr Marongwe said.

He said this transfer will meet about 60 percent of the basic household food basket.

“By September 2016, the programme is planning to expand to support over 70,000 food insecure people in three rural districts,” he said.

The three districts would include Matobo, Masvingo and Gutu districts.

Oxfam has also begun to explore other options of providing assistance including use of food vouchers and food aid – general food distribution where absolutely required.

Meanwhile, Oxfam response programme will support affected households with agriculture and livestock support initiatives to ensure livelihood restoration is ensured and that communities also increase productivity in the next cropping season.

ORAP chief executive Mrs Mvuselelo Huni said Matopo was not receiving assistance for the families suffering from the effects of the drought.

“We are working with the communities to try and meet their immediate demands as a drought response mechanism,” she said.

Mrs Huni reiterated the impact of the drought on gender.

“There are areas where cases of prostitution have increased due to the drought while its impact on the families has been quite overwhelming,” she said.

Her organisation, Mrs Huni added, was targeting at distributing food hampers to the affected families than cash transfers because of mobile network challenges.

She said there was, however, a serious need to address water problems affecting the district.

“We are working on rehabilitating boreholes to improve access to water for the communities,” she said.

Oxfam response programme in Zimbabwe is also working to increase access to clean water through an integrated water supply and hygiene promotion intervention.

The program combines rehabilitation of boreholes and re-activation of water point user committees, with capacity building initiatives for local communities and government support system.

Hygiene education is an on-going and community-led and implemented through WASH committees and hygiene promotion volunteers.

To promote the sustainability of results, the project will work in close collaboration with relevant district stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, the department of District Development Fund (DDF), and coordinate closely with the WASH cluster.

It is based on this programme backdrop that we are pleased to invite you to cover our humanitarian response to the current El Nino emergency.

 

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