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A new approach to household security

· Agriculture,Food security,HIV Aids,Cash transfers

Last year, our agriculture project, kindly funded by the St Mark’s Overseas Aid Trust, sought to help 12 of the households in greatest need by helping to provide basic food needs. The households chosen by Kaloko Zambia staff in consultation with the villagers and traditional authorities were rural families in Fifungo badly affected by HIV/Aids where grandmothers were left to care for grandchildren orphaned by the disease.

The project targeted households where basic food needs were not being met. These families’ lives are precarious; many of these grandmothers are heads of household with no financial support besides subsistence farming.

Kaloko’s project was two-fold. Firstly, the selected families received agricultural training and starter packs of seed, tools and fertiliser. In addition, and following extensive research, we piloted ‘conditional cash handouts’ where each female head of household received a small lump sum of money, to spend on their grandchildren’s school fees; farming help, tools or inputs; household items such as cooking necessities; and health purposes. The Kaloko team consulted the communities and drew on best practice from other organisations, adapting the methodology to the local context.

In total, the team gave $45 to each female head of household, explaining the conditions of the grant and getting a signed agreement. The grants were given out in three tranches ($15 each time) following successful accountability for the previous funds in the form of receipts and photos. The team closely monitored how the money was spent and the resulting benefits.

We were delighted to see that no funds ‘went astray’ and the families paid for education (children’s school fees, uniforms and books); farming (help clearing land, bags for packing maize, and garden water pumps); household necessities (relish, salt, cooking oil, charcoal and additional maize to sustain the families for the entire year); and health services (hospital treatments and transport). It was interesting to observe an element of supportive competition amongst participants about how to spend the money most effectively. The further the money could go, the more respect the participant received. For example, one woman bought a water pump for her garden and those in the community were very impressed with this!

Kaloko has found that with careful planning and oversight, the introduction of these social transfers into a wider project was a cost-effective way to get direct help to particular parts of the community. We are pleased to say that the agriculture project is continuing with this element. With the generous support of individual donors, the Chalk Cliff Trust and Open Gate Trust, Kaloko will be helping another 20 households improve their food security in the Kashitu area in 2019.

 

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