Cash as aid empowers the hungry in Niger
Niamey, Niger, 17 September 2010 - For the first time in an emergency, UNICEF is using cash as a way to help families caught up in a nutrition crisis.
The Nigerien government, UNICEF, Care and Save the Children will distribute money for three months to every woman in areas most affected by drought and who has at least one child aged between 6-23 months. The cash transfer of 20,000 CFA a month is aimed at 30,560 families.
The payments are being made to cover a period at the end of the lean season when families have already experienced several months of extreme shortages before the October harvest.
"This is a pilot intervention to protect the nutritional status of children and to stop them from further falling into the pit of malnutrition. The implications for how we give aid are enormous" says Dr. Guido Cornale, UNICEF Niger Representative.
"This could be a tool that provides powerful ammunition against such crises in the future." Cash transfers can save time and be more cost effective than traditional food interventions while allowing families to make choices.
They can also inject money into the local community as households spend their money on local produce rather than on more expensive US-imported products. The Nigerien Market Information System (NMIS) will be monitoring market prices in the intervention areas to warn of any adverse effects.
The cash transfer scheme will run in conjunction with the blanket feeding food distributions being carried out by the Nigerien government, the World Food Programme, UNICEF and those international NGOs with both blanket feeding and cash transfer experience.
The pilot initiative is funded by UNICEF, USAID/OFDA and the Swedish Government.
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