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[afro-nets] Re-engineering food aid in Zimbabwe through vouchers (3)

Re-engineering food aid in Zimbabwe through vouchers (3)

Dear Shampa,

Thank you for sharing your experiences. Dr Matowe asks good
questions that deserve to be asked of all projects, and normally
are not. It concerns many in the development sector that our
programmes taken together are not "changing the world". Design
and delivery issues make many projects expensive, slow, ineffec-
tual and all too often disempowering. Your innovation offers to
simplify and cheapen aid-flow from rich to poor.

Were you saying this in your short mail?
1) Vouchers strengthen market mechanisms for distributing goods
and services (all too often NPO's build rival, more expensive

2) Vouchers transfer decision-making on allocation to benefici-
aries (all too often NPO's make hasty, thoughtless, top-down de-

3) Vouchers simplify the donor-NPO-community supply chain (all
too often, goal- and activity confusion make oversight compli-

4) Vouchers transfer purchasing power directly to the benefici-
ary (all too often, charity leaves people feeling helpless).

Did you find that vouchers, compared to the typical feeding
1) change the cost structure (was it more economical?)
2) change the time to delivery (was it more efficient?)
3) change the number and reach of the products and services de-
    livered (was it more effective?)
4) deliver more to the community than the next-best option (was
it equitable?)

Your success came from vouchers being money-equivalents and OK
supplying the food. Dr Matowe's 3rd question in effect asks how
close vouchers are to money. If the holder can sell the voucher
to an OK shopper for money, the voucher is as good as money.
This suggests you could remove the transaction costs of vouchers
and give money instead, freeing beneficiaries to buy elsewhere
(and of course, buy other than food). Can you give your thoughts
for and against giving money itself?

To me, Shampa's voucher project points to a future where aid is
direct and NPO's have slimmer roles. Are we in the development
sector ready to empower beneficiaries as directly as this?

Errol Goetsch

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