Airtel Money takes aid to hungry Malawians: Donors pump in MK7 bn in Emergency Social Cash Transfer

The INGO consortium in collaborating with Airtel Malawi launched the Emergency Social Cash Transfer programme with an aim to avert hunger situation facing millions of people.

Notice on cash transfer aid
Notice on cash transfer aid
An Airtel Money agent doing the transaction ... ...Photo Jeromy Kadewere.
An Airtel Money agent doing the transaction … …Photo Jeromy Kadewere.

The launch, which took place on Tuesday in Mulanje was graced by among others Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi, Kikkan Haugen, who was also the guest of honour.

Under the Integrated Emergency Cash Transfer Response Project, the INGO is giving money to hunger-stricken households to buy food.

The move is part of the response to a recent report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee,which shows that about two million households are facing food shortages largely because of erratic rains and draught during the last growing season.

This project also targets to meet food requirements of close to 450,000 people who, as a result of dry spells and erratic rains last year, have not been able to grow enough food to feed their families.

However, the INGO consortium which is comprised of Save the Children, Oxfam, Goal Malawi, Concern Universal, and Concern World Wide will be providing monthly cash transfers to the most vulnerable families.

Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi Kikkan Haugen, who spoke on behalf of group donors which include UKs Department for International Development and Irish Aid said they were committed to respond to the appeal of the government of Malawi to allocate resources as a result of heavy flooding and difficult season lies ahead.

For instance, Haugen said a total of MK7 billion has been given to the INGO cash based response.

Of this, the largest share comes from the UK with 7.5 million USD; Norway contributes 2.2 million USD, Irish Aid 1.6 million USD and Save the Children Italy 0.5 million USD.

“This total contributions will ensure cash transfers to more than 450 000 Malawians who live near markets where food can be bought, but who cannot afford to buy it,” he said.

Haugen said the INGO consortium will contribute by helping beneficiaries form village savings and loans Associations, and assist communities in better planning for the future.

In addition, Haugen said the program will assist in linking beneficiaries to existing projects. One of these projects is the Enhanced Community Resilience program, supported by the same donors as this cash program, and implemented by many of the same NGOs.

Save the Children International Country Director Matthew Pickard said cash has a critical role to play in meeting the food requirements of vulnerable families.

“To those families who will receive cash during this response programme l want to say this that money is yours-no one can take that money away from you. It is for you to use to feed your families. Use it wisely, makes sure you use it to feed your families,” said Pickard.

While the programme is addressing short term emergency needs of vulnerable households through provision of cash entitlements on monthly basis, the programme will also work with communities and vulnerable households in the districts to build their resilience focusing on nutrition messaging, village savings and loans.

The programme is funded by the Irish Aid and the Royal Norwegian Embassy, as well as Save the Children Italy.

Airtel Malawi Acting Managing Director Charles Kamoto said their widest reliable network coverage plus diverse products and services available on Airtel money enable them to carry out this noble initiative by reaching out to all the targeted areas in all the districts earmarked for this project.

Airtel’s role in this programme will be to distribute low cost mobile phones in a bid to facilitate the payment process of cash transfers once they are registered with Airtel money.

“It must be pointed out that so far, Airtel money is the largest and widest mobile banking facility in the country as it has over 735, 000 registered subscribers. This is no mean achievement,” he said

He said apart from receiving social cash transfer through Airtel money, the beneficiaries will be able cash out instantly via their agents.

Kamoto assured the beneficiaries that they will heavily invest its highly competent, qualified and experienced Airtel money human resource to make this social cash transfer project a success that shall positively impact on lives on many.

He also assured the beneficiaries of the 2015/16 that through this Airtel Money account, it is like they have been freed from travelling by vehicles since all they have to do is just sending the money and the goods will be delivered.

“It is pleasing to note that Airtel money as a service promotes more economic transactions in the rural areas, thus leading to rural development and arguably, creating opportunities for employment leading to reduction of poverty,” he said.

Kamoto said the emergency social cash transfer will not create a dependency syndrome, but rather it will serve as a spring board for restoring the self-reliant spirit, so that the people can fend for themselves, and live a life free from poverty.

All in all, Kamoto applauded INGO for collaborating with Airtel on this project.

Oxfam Country Director John Makina said the Program launched “is part of a wider [national] response to food insecurity.

“This is part of our work together with other partners and government at the national level like Concern Worldwide, Goal Project and Save the Children,” he said.

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