While the full extent of the impact of COVID-19 on food security is still being assessed as the pandemic situation evolves, the containment measures have already spurred far reaching impacts on the country’s socioeconomic conditions and the livelihoods of many vulnerable and low-income people in urban and peri-urban settings, limiting their ability to meet their food and nutrition needs.
On 12 August, the sector completed data collection for the second rapid food security assessment in the urban districts of Livingstone and Kitwe, aimed at ascertaining the impacts of COVID-19 on livelihoods and food security among urban populations residing in high density and low-income areas. A similar assessment conducted in Lusaka and Kafue districts revealed the pandemic had affected the quality, quantity and diversity of meals accessed and consumed among assessed population. The assessment established that over 180,000 people in 50 disadvantaged, high-density and low-income were food insecure in the two districts and in need of humanitarian assistance.
Since 25 August, the sector is providing the second batch payments of the Emergency Cash Transfers (ECT) for food security in Lusaka and Kafue districts, targeting 180,000 vulnerable and food insecure people residing in 50 disadvantaged, high-density and low-income urban and peri-urban areas. The sector is targeting 36,011 households, with each household receiving K800 (about $44) via mobile money services, to cover their needs for next two months (October and November). So far, over 29,000 households have been paid. This follows the initial payment made to 17,541 households in July, which helped 87,705 people to meet their needs. The sector will implement the ECT for six months from July 2020.
The sector has continued coordinating with other UN agencies and the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) in responding to the impacts of COVID-19. Through the United Nations Joint Support Programme for Social Protection (UNJPSP) and the Government, the sector increased awareness activities in Lusaka, through public addresses, meetings with community leaders and radio programmes leveraging various media houses to ensure that targeted households are sensitized on the objective of emergency cash assistance and how to redeem their cash via mobile money services. This is in addition to promoting procurement and the consumption of nutritious foods among the beneficiary households.
Development of the Food Security Pack (FSP) component of the Zambia Integrated Social Protection System (ZISPIS) has been completed and plans to support MCDSS to start implementing the FSP programme through ZISPIS is underway. From 19-20 August, a two-day workshop was held focusing on operational decisions of the system as well as modalities of further financial support for the roll out of the system.
To implement the COVID-19 Food Security Response, the sector requires a total of $48.9 million, of which $11 million has been secured so far, enough to reach vulnerable and food insecure people in Lusaka and Kafue and to expand to other areas. The sector needs additional $37.9 million to expand its response and to reach all the targeted districts.
Sector members have continued to mobilize funding in order to reach the targeted populations impacted by COVID-19.