Tinomuda Chakanyuka Sunday News Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) has come to the aid of drought stricken villagers across Zimbabwe with vulnerable families in Gwanda rural and Lower Gweru set to benefit from a water and sanitation intervention while villagers in Binga will benefit from a cash transfer programme.
This is part of the organisation’s overall response to the El-Nino induced drought through an emergency appeal project which is presently covering eight districts across the country.
The districts are Kariba in Mashonaland West, Mudzi in Mashonaland East, Muzarabani in Mashonaland Central, Chipinge in Manicaland and Mwenezi in Masvingo and lately Binga in Matabeleland North with the cash transfer component.
Lower Gweru in Midlands, Gwanda in Matabeleland South are set to benefit from a water and sanitation component of the intervention through rehabilitation of water points as well as drilling of some boreholes.
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.
Other components of the drought relief programme include agricultural seed support.
ZRCS secretary-general Mr Maxwell Phiri told Sunday News that the organisation will continue working with the Government and other humanitarian players in alleviating human suffering.
“Drought and any such natural or man-made disasters are not unique to Zimbabwe and as the nation’s leading humanitarian player and an auxiliary to the Government, we will continue playing our part in aiding the affected communities.
“Zimbabwe and the entire region has been largely affected by the El Niño-induced drought and our response is both emergency and developmental so that while providing present pressing food needs we also provide seed support to ensure better harvests come next season,” Phiri said.
The drought relief efforts are being funded by Partner National Societies from the Red Cross family among them the British Red Cross (BRC), Danish Red Cross, Finnish Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, American Red Cross and Norwegian Red Cross.
Through the British Red Cross, the People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL) has availed £225 000 for the programme for 2016 while the Tyce funds £50 000 to the programme.
The Tyce have supported the previous food security programme and provided full support to the Chivi WASH programme.
The funding from Tyce and PPL through BRC is supporting Community Resilience and Food Security programming in Chipinge and Mwenezi.
Target beneficiaries of the Red Cross initiative include among others lactating mothers, the elderly as well as widows and child headed families, the chronically ill and generally disadvantaged members of the community. The ZRCS is working closely with relevant Government departments and the local leadership to ensure aid reaches the intended beneficiaries.
Responding to comments on the Red Cross’s resilience focused approach, Mr 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,” said Mr Phiri.
More than 40 000 beneficiaries across the country are receiving support from the Zimbabwe Red Cross emergency food security intervention.
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.