Following the launch of the UN Emergency Flash Appeal for the COVID-19 Response by Her Honour Inonge Wina, Vice President of Zambia, and the subsequent launch of the COVID-19 Emergency Cash Transfer (C-19 ECT) programme on 28th July 2020 by Hon. Kampamba Chewe, Minister of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), working with the Government and in coordination with UN Agencies (UNICEF, UNDP and ILO), started providing cash assistance to vulnerable households in Lusaka and Kafue districts impacted by COVID-19.
Under the social protection and food security sectors of the Inter-Agency Flash Appeal for COVID-19 Response, there are two complementary but distinct and fully coordinated Emergency Cash Transfer (ECT) programmes. The ECT for Food Security, implemented by WFP, aims at providing a life-saving intervention to address the immediate food and nutrition security needs of the most vulnerable. On the other hand, the ECT for Social Protection, implemented by UNICEF, is part of a shock responsive response aimed at stabilizing income of vulnerable households to enhance household consumption and facilitate access to basic needs such as education, health and nutrition.
Prior to commencement of the WFP-supported ECT, WFP, MCDSS, ILO, UNICEF, and the Zambia Red Cross agreed on the harmonized targeting criteria and transfer value, on their respective geographical coverage, as well as on coordinated communication mechanisms for the programme. This was aimed at ensuring enhanced synergy and complementarity between the two forms of ECT for COVID-19.
Designed to address the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable households, the ECT programme targets both people under the SCT programme who are residing in the targeted districts (vertical expansion), as well as vulnerable people not currently covered by the SCT (horizontal expansion). Other vulnerable households targeted by the programme include those working in the informal sector who have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 due to a slowdown in economic activities and loss of jobs/income. The food security ECT also targets households whose food security situation has been compromised due to high food prices, scarcity of nutritious foods and increased food expenditure share.
Each eligible household would receive 400 kwacha per month – the value agreed upon among relevant UN agencies involved in the response – for a period of six months to allow them to meet their essential food and non-food needs.
COVID-19 ECT interventions are coordinated through the MCDSS and utilize existing structures, including where possible payment modalities such as the Zambia Integrated Social Protection Information Systems (ZISPIS), grievance mechanisms and dedicated call centres. A harmonized communication strategy was developed to communicate the overall ECT approach incorporating both the food security and social protection components, wwith a focus on the transfer value and the temporary nature of the cash-based interventions vis-à-vis the regular SCT programme among others.