HARARE – THE success of cash transfer programmes in Zimbabwe, which has benefited thousands affected by severe drought, has highlighted technology-driven initiatives can be the most feasible option in unstable and delicate contexts.
The Zimbabwe Cash First programme has seen the provision of cash transfers to 400 000 beneficiaries in the Southern African country experiencing shortages of physical cash.
According to CARE International, which is among the organisations providing relief aid, based on its experience of delivering the first large-scale humanitarian cash programme in Zimbabwe, even during a liquidity crisis, cash transfer programming could still be a feasible option, giving people greater freedom and dignity of choice during times of crisis.
“The Cash First example of providing cash transfers to over 400 000 beneficiaries in a country with severely limited access to physical cash should challenge and encourage other development actors to support cash transfer programmes in volatile and fragile contexts,” CARE stated.
“The Zimbabwe Cash First programme has demonstrated that communities are more resilient and adaptable than we often think they are: continuing to have fairly well-functioning markets despite a national shortage of cash is testament to this.”
Where feasible, cash transfers remain the most cost-effective and cost-efficient modality, catering for a diversity of needs among the target population, the aid agency said.
Mobile money transfers, according to CARE, are a viable solution to overcome the challenge of physical cash shortages, and can lay the foundation for greater financial inclusion through access to savings and wider social protection programmes.
Zimbabweans suffered severe drought in 2015-17, when failed rains over consecutive planting seasons were exacerbated by one of the strongest El Niño cycles in recent history.
A national liquidity crisis began to unfold in 2016, further compounding Zimbabwe’s difficult economic conditions. Widening trade deficits resulted in a mass outflow of US dollars, the de facto currency since 2009.
– CAJ News