Zambia: Five ways to spend cash assistance during the coronavirus pandemic
The power of unconditional emergency cash transfers is the freedom beneficiaries have to use the K2, 400 on the most immediate needs
In response to challenges brought about by COVID-19, the Government of Zambia and the United Nations through WFP, UNICEF, ILO and UNDP are working together to provide cash assistance to 1.2 million vulnerable people to help them meet their basic needs during the pandemic. Below, we look at how different households have used the ZMW2,400 ($106), which covers a six-month emergency period.
What this cash assistance means to beneficiaries
John Ilunga, 25, Kitwe
In 2015, John Ilunga was working in a cement factory when a heavy bucket of cement mix fell on his neck, paralysing him from the neck down. Ilunga, 25, lives with his parents, seven siblings, and two nieces, in Kitwe.
“My siblings used to work in the mines and furniture factories two to three times a week, earning just enough for us to get by and pay for my basic medical needs.”
Ilunga was seeing his body get weaker and weaker by the day until he woke up to a message saying that his family would receive $106 through mobile money to help meet their food and other essential needs.
The cash assistance means that the family can now buy nutritious food. “My father used some of the money to buy eggs to help with my recovery. He also bought maize meal, soya chunks, bread, tomatoes and onions,” says Ilunga.
‘’Since my husband died, life has not been easy. It’s been a struggle looking after my children. My only source of income came from buying and reselling roasted groundnuts outside my home. When we had no sales, we had no money and couldn’t afford to buy other food. We would only eat roasted groundnuts on those days,’’ Agnes says.
Agnes used half of her cash assistance to expand her business. She also bought iron sheets to improve her small market stand.
‘’I’m now able to make around 20 to 50 kwacha profit per day. I keep investing the profit back into the business to ensure I can survive after the cash assistance stops,’’ Agnes says.
‘’I’m planning on using the rest of the cash to pay for my daughter to re-sit her Grade 12 exams and send my eldest son who is in college money for food.
Emmanuel Katwishi is 62 years old and lives in Mufulira, known for copper mining. He lives with his wife, two children and two grandchildren.
For the last few years, mobility has been a challenge for Emmanuel. He suffers from back pain, leg pain and walks with a stick. His eldest son has a hearing impairment and is unable to work.
Emmanuel has been used the cash assistance to buy fertilizer to help his maize crops grow on a rented plot four hours away from his home, tended to by his wife.
‘’I want to make sure I can support my family once the cash assistance stops. I hope to have a good harvest and get at least 15 x 50kg bags of maize,’’ says Emmanuel.
He plans on using some of his harvest to feed his family and selling the surplus to buy other food items such as fish and beans.
Emmanuel used his remaining cash to expand the market stall outside his home where his wife sells samosas.
Philemon Chisala is 60 and a father of six. He helps care for his five grandchildren and daughter living with autism.
Philemon, who has been a farmer all his life, used some of his cash to rent an extra plot of land. ‘’On my old plot, I only used to harvest around 10 x 50kg bags of maize. With my new plot, I hope to harvest around 30 x 50kg bags of maize,’’ he says.
Philemon will use his harvest to feed his family, buy other types of food such as fish and beans and pay for his children’s school fees. He also uses his extra savings to buy masks and soap to keep safe during the pandemic, as well as healthy food to keep his family strong.