The operation update reflects the current situation and information available – both affected by the Covid-19 circumstances.
Based on the continuous food insecurity in Southern Africa exacerbated by Covid-19 containment measures the timeframe of the Emergency Appeal is extended with two months until the end of April 2021 to cover basic food needs also in the upcoming lean season. Assessments will be carried out during the last six months of the operation to inform further intervention needs to address the persistent needs.
During the reporting period Botswana Red Cross Society (BRCS) was able to expand their food assistance to another 150 households, bringing the total number of households reached monthly to 300 as of June 2020. As government eased Covid-19 related movement restrictions, enabling BRCS to revert to the initial plan of food assistance through a voucher system, as beneficiaries were once again allowed to move around and visit shops. BRCS is in the process of improving the voucher system upgrading it to a digital one enabling beneficiary choice of goods. BRCS has also established the first six model gardens that are used to guide and train 100 households in setting up theirs in order to improve their household food production. The demonstration gardens went together with a food security training and demonstrations for volunteers and beneficiaries on construction of water efficient back yard gardens. Originally, foreseen fodder support to livestock holders has been excluded as grazing has improved after the 2019/2020 rain season. However, it is possible this may have to be revisited again depending on the effects and timing of forecasted La Niña rains in Southern Africa.
Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society (BERCS) finished its last three mobile cash distributions to 2,300 households during the reporting period and began preparations for the planting season support to households establishing keyhole gardens and seed distributions. While initial plan was to carry these out through in-kind support, it is now foreseen to utilize conditional cash as the intervention modality. Beneficiaries are to attend a training on climate-smart agriculture before receiving their cash and having the opportunity to purchase inputs from a fair called together by BERCS. Based on the outlook and recommendations of the new Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report for Operation Update Report Southern Africa: Drought (Food Insecurity) Eswatini, it is foreseen to revive mobile cash support for food assistance again for the upcoming lean season from October or November until the end of April 2021, meaning food needs will be covered during two lean seasons instead of the originally planned one. This is one of the main reasons also informing the Operation’s timeframe extension.
Lesotho Red Cross Society (LRCS) finalized its five rounds of mobile cash transfer to 2,005 households during the reporting period. Preparations were started for the planting season by training lead farmers on community based basic agriculture practices and climate change adaptation as well as disaster risk reduction, and by preparing for procurement of suppliers for local fairs, where beneficiaries may purchase agricultural inputs. Vouchers will be used as a purchasing medium at the agricultural input fairs. In Lesotho it is likewise foreseen to extend the food and basic needs mobile cash support to beneficiaries over for the 2020-2021 lean season, owing to below average staple food production and COVID-19 exacerbated food security and livelihood situation. Support will there be extended over two lean seasons instead of original one season and prompting on its part also the extension of the Appeal timeframe.
Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) carried out preparations for its cash for basic needs support during the reporting period by preparing the financial services provider procurement together with IFRC. NRCS was experiencing staffing shortage to effectively respond to its three on-going IFRC supported operations beside its other programmes, and challenges/delays in identifying and recruiting the needed personnel. Recruitment for a new DM officer and a regional officer were completed in the reporting period and it is foreseen that cash distributions may start late September, while waterpoint rehabilitation interventions need to be kick-started simultaneously. After further information and deliberation on the feasibility and needs, the agricultural seed and gardening activities have been excluded from the implementation plan. Instead basic needs cash support plan is extended to cover six months, instead of initial four.
Following fundraising efforts and partner engagement the Appeal has attracted CHF 2,079,913 funding and is 27% covered at the end of August 2020. The implementation rate at the end of August 2020 stands at CHF 1,598,731. IFRC will strengthen its resource mobilization efforts to be able to cover more communities in the upcoming lean season.