This project report covers Plan's work on the Vulnerable Group Feeding program in Zimbabwe from June 2008 through to Dec 2009.
Case study - 12 year old Tshameleni
Tshameleni is a 12-year-old girl and shared her story with Plan:
‘I stay with my three other siblings who are ten, seven and five. My father died long back, when I was still very young and my mother passed away last year. I am the eldest and therefore had to take care of the other children. It is difficult to look after these children, especially the youngest one who often falls sick. With the current food assistance which we are getting, I have been able to care much better for the siblings. The reduction of the cereal ration size for the past two months from ten to five kilos per person per month has led to insufficient food for the family. Under such circumstances I am happy to say the local community has always been there for us, including support to till the small land which we have and provision of inputs.’
Mr Mahenya, head of the village where Tshameleni and her siblings live, added:
“The community has been assisting once in a while. But, as you know, it has been difficult over the past few months due to the current economic situation. We are happy that this season is more promising and we will be able to assist this household more from our own sources rather than rely on outside assistance always.”
Achievements and challenges: Fin Yr 2009
As Plan’s partner, the World Food Program (WFP) provided the food commodities while Plan was responsible for facilitating household and community processes to identify the most food insecure households at community level. Food was transported by WFP to the Chiredzi warehouse, with Plan food aid staff responsible for management of the food supplies and arrangement of monthly food distributions to agreed food distribution points. Plan staff worked with community food distribution point committees, community members and community leaders to ensure that the food reached the identified households.
Food totalling over 8,865 MT was distributed to over 206,000 people in Chiredzi between October 2008 and March 2009, covering the period when food insecurity was at its worst. The majority of people receiving the food rations were children under 5 and children aged between 5 and 18 years old.
A total of 8865 MT of food was distributed in total. This was less than the 10,700 MT intended, largely due to WFP’s difficulties in providing the planned quantities of food. WFP changed food ration sizes per person on a monthly basis, due to difficulties in providing the commodities, and put a cap on the number of beneficiaries at six people per household from January. From January to March 2009, only 50 per cent of the initial planned cereal food ration was able to be provided due to the shortage in the food available from WFP. This led to additional pressure on food aid program staff to adjust beneficiary registers and produce new ration boards for beneficiaries.
Heavy rains in mid February to early March led to some food distribution points becoming inaccessible, requiring rescheduled distributions and new locations for food distributions, which increased the distance for households to walk to collect the rations. Due to a causeway being washed away, longer routes had to be used by the trucks transporting food to six wards.
Despite the challenges, there was good cooperation extended to Plan in support of the program by a range of stakeholders, including community leaders, the District Council, and various government departments. WFP and Plan maintained regular coordination throughout the planning and implementation period.
Achievements and challenges: Fin Yr 2010 Q2
In FY10 Plan has implemented another program with WFP in Zimbabwe. Thanks to a good agricultural season this year the program was smaller in scale but will have a large impact in ensuring enough food is provided to those most vulnerable such as households headed by children, the elderly and females so they can survive another hungry season.
A community empowerment process, that was initiated through the 2008-2009, moved a step further giving full responsibilities to the villages’ assemblies to identify, select and register food insecure households. This was a unique opportunity to provide villagers control and ownership of the registration process.
Plan Chiredzi District food distribution was targeting 44,401 beneficiaries that were to be registered by communities in nine wards from 313 villages. Each month the amount of beneficiaries increased as food scarcity increased in the hungry season. By the end of December 2009 Plan had a record of 36,652 beneficiaries registered and in Q3 the amount of beneficiaries will increase again to reach the target beneficiaries. By the end of December 2009 the total food distributed was 1,230.788 MT.
Food deliveries from WFP warehouses direct to Chiredzi distribution points and warehouses were satisfactory, reliable and consistent.
The ranking and the registration of the households was not perfect in all villages. Households’ verifications findings showed a small percentage of households’ having sizes inflated, favouritism and some village leadership domination that resulted in re-registration. However, in several communities domination by village leadership was well managed by Field Monitors who ensured that village assemblies had a final voice in the selection and ranking of beneficiaries.
Photo: Plan staff ensure that the food received from WFP is safely stored in a warehouse prior to distribution.
The future of this project
Each year Plan assesses the communities’ needs for emergency food
relief so that vulnerable people, especially children, survive the
hungry season in Zimbabwe. In conjunction to this work, Plan implements
food security programs throughout the year in the hope that one day
emergency food relief will no longer be required and the communities
have the capability to provide food for their families. It will be
assessed later this year as to whether support from Plan and WFP is
This has only been possible with your support.
Thank you for working with us to ensure vulnerable people can survive a
difficult situation and provide much needed food relief.
Your donation to this project will help cover costs for
Transportation of a monthly food basket to vulnerable families including a contribution to fuel costs, vehicles, repairs and maintenance.
This Footprints funded project is a small part of Plan Australia’s comprehensive Vulnerable Group Feeding program in Zimbabwe (see full details below)
Why is the project needed?
For a second consecutive year the combined impact of adverse weather, lack of timely availability of inputs and severe economic constraints in Zimbabwe have induced hardship and food insecurity for communities and children.
It is estimated that 2.04 million people in rural and urban areas were facing food insecurity between July and September 2008, rising to 3.8 million people in October and peaking to about 5.1 million at the height of the hungry season between January and March 2009.
Primary factors responsible for the decline, in addition to adverse weather, were
- untimely delivery of seeds
- shortages of fertilizer
- deteriorating infrastructure
- most importantly, unprofitable prices for most of the Grain Marketing Board controlled crops.
A decline in national agricultural production over the last 7-8 years is also due to the structural change. The newly settled farmers cultivate only about half of the prime land allocated to them owing to shortages of tractor/draught power, fuel, and investment in infrastructure/ improvements, and absenteeism on the part of some new settler beneficiaries.
Part of a larger program
The transportation of a monthly food basket to vulnerable families including a contribution to fuel costs, vehicles, repairs and maintenance is one of the necessary aspects to Vulnerable Group Feeding Program which aims to save lives by feeding 73,000 vulnerable people in Chiredzi District
The food is sourced within the Southern Africa Region and abroad by the World Food Program (WFP) who are project partners.
A community-based approach at village level will register the most vulnerable households in the community according to World Food Program registration criteria, formats and guidelines. These guidelines will assist to identify, the following vulnerable groups:
- Orphans and vulnerable children including child headed households;
- Female headed households;
- Elderly headed households;
- Disabled headed households;
- Families caring for orphans;
- People living with HIV and AIDS; and
- Household with chronically ill parents, guardians and other members.
Each beneficiary will receive a monthly food basket (depending upon availability) consisting of cereal, vegetable oil and corn soya blend.
Plan is hiring transporters who will be responsible for delivering the food to village sites within the district on a monthly basis.
Plan has been operating in partnership with the World Food Program since 2002 and has distributed over 50,000 Mega Tonnes of food to vulnerable populations over the past 4 years. Last year food was provided to a total of 131,877 people in 14 food insecure wards in Chiredzi district. 60% of beneficiaries were children.