Mogadishu, Somalia- Save the Children has concluded its first round of food distribution through food vouchers to at least 57,000 families affected by food shortages due to recurring droughts in Somalia. This is one of the largest numbers of beneficiaries in the country to receive assistance from one programme.
The project is part of Short-Term Regional Emergency Response Project (STRERP) which is funded by the African Development Bank through Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and implemented by Save the Children. The project covers 350 villages in 35 districts across Somalia.
The first round of food vouchers, in the form of smartcards issued to recipients, who make purchases from participating traders equipped with point of sale mobile devices was finalised on June 25th. The smartcards enable the transactions be cashless end-to-end, reducing risks of diversion and ensuring goods and services to reach the intended beneficiaries.
Timothy Bishop, Country Director, Save the Children Somalia has called the distribution, “the much needed and timely relief for Somali children and their families affected by recurring drought.” “Many families are already feeling the impact of insufficient rains. This distribution of food vouchers does not only ensure families in need of help, access to food but also boosts the local economy as all the food vendors are selected from their own communities.
The project provides emergency food assistance to the most vulnerable populations in Somalia, as well as strengthens links between the production, distribution and consumption hubs of the food systems in the affected regions, leading to efficiency and longer-term resilience. The targeted families will receive two more rounds of cash through the smartcards to purchase the necessary food items.
Despite some parts of the country has received some rains in mid-May and early June, the food security situation in Somalia is still severe. The rains came in late and were insufficient to support crop production and meet the needs of the families who were yet to fully recover from the 2017 drought which affected the entire country. The UN estimates at least 5.4 million people are food insecure, including 1.7 million people who face acute food shortages and require humanitarian assistance. This number is expected to raise to 2.2 million people by September 2019.
“In situations like this, children are the first to be affected and always bear the biggest burden,” says Bishop. “This project will help families to survive this drought and support them not to slip into further destitution.”
A recent needs assessment study conducted by Save the Children in March 2019, at least 73 per cent of the children in the surveyed households in Puntland are consuming two or fewer meals a day due to increased food prices and drought-related livestock deaths. A similar study conducted in Somaliland in June also reported at least two-thirds of the households surveyed reported not to have sufficient food and that their food stock expected to cover them for six days only.
Source: Save the Children