Feed the hungry, strengthen local markets

Mariam Yaya shows the money she received to buy food. Photo: LWF Chad

Cash-based food support in Eastern Chad 

(LWI) - Sitting in the shade under a tree, Marian Yaya, 82, listens as a Lutheran World Federation (LWF) case worker calls the names of beneficiaries registered to receive cash in the village of Tongori in east Chad. Her grandson sleeps in her arms, as she waits for her turn. An empty white bag lies close to her.  

‘‘The LWF people told me I will receive money to buy food but I couldn’t believe it,’’ she says, ‘‘that’s why I brought my empty bag to get food’’. Yaya is among the 4,000 people in the community who don’t know where their next meal will come from.  

A year ago, Yaya defied her old age to farm a small plot near her hay hut. But the El Nino-induced drought hit her village Tongori, and all her plants died. In addition to the effects of drought, the Assoungha district hosts over 113,000 refugees from Sudan, straining local resources further. According to the United Nations Emergency Food Security Assessment conducted in 2016, over 83 percent of the population in Assoungha district is affected by food shortage. Tongori is just one example.  

Together with the World Food Program (WFP), LWF is implementing a seasonal assistance project to alleviate the hunger before the next harvest. For the first time ever, food support is given through providing cash in Eastern Chad. Some days ago, the 82-year-old woman was visited by case workers who had come to identify people the most in need of immediate food assistance. 

LWF has partnered with one of the local mobile phone operators to facilitate the monetary handouts. The phone operator produces produce ‘Code coupons’ which are sent to the people selected for the cash support. On cash distribution day, the people bring the coupon and receive real cash. That way, the people may purchase their preferred food and diversify their diet. 

Furthermore, cash transfer stimulates trade and strengthens local markets. ‘‘The cash-based aid will allow local communities to buy food and to cover their other basic needs.” said Gaspard Cirhalwirwa, Head of WFP Farchana Sub Office. More than 25,000 drought-affected people in Assoungha district will receive 138 Euro, over a three-month-period, to buy food. In total, over euro 915 000 will be injected in the local economy. 

Yaya now plans to go to the market and buy the ingredients for the first real meal she has had in weeks. ‘‘All my life, euro 15 is the highest amount of money I ever got at a time. I am so delighted’’ she says. ‘‘I will go to Biské market to buy millet, dried up okra and charmout [dried meat]’’.  

The food support to people in Eastern Chad is funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) and the United Nations World Food Program.

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