Re-engineering food aid in Zimbabwe through vouchers (4)
Dear Dr. Matowe and Errol,
Below are responses to your questions regarding the food voucher
system in Zimbabwe.
1) Re. Sustainability, selection criteria, OK pricing:
The JSI/AAI/CA voucher system is in response to the current food
security crisis in Zimbabwe and is intended as short-term emer-
gency relief. In the longer term, the programme could be adapted
for a social welfare programme as there will always be people
who fall below the poverty line.
Because the vouchers are integrated into an HIV & AIDS pro-
gramme, the criteria are based on the following: household in-
come (including external remittances) is below the equivalent of
USD 10/month AND the household includes a chronically ill per-
son, orphans or has experienced the death of the head of house-
hold in the previous 6 months.
Most of the items on the vouchers are price controlled by the
Government. For other items, Crown Agents has negotiated with OK
2) Re. vouchers strengthening market mechanisms:
Yes, the OK supermarket chains are eager to be included in the
vouchers programme and charge a nominal processing fee. It also
puts pressure on OK to begin stocking a new commodity - corn/
soya blend - which previously had not been available at the re-
3) Re. Vouchers transferring decision-making on allocation to
Allocation of the vouchers rests with the NGO community volun-
teers who have rigorous household selection and monitoring pro-
4) Re. Vouchers simplifying the donor-NGO-community chain:
Exactly - cutting out procurement, warehousing, transporters,
off-loaders, setting up distribution points, etc. has signifi-
cantly simplified the process.
5) Re. Vouchers transfer purchasing power directly to the bene-
At first we underestimated the psychological impact of conduct-
ing one's own shopping, even if the choices are limited to what
is on the vouchers. For example, amongst heads of households
living with HIV and AIDS, there has been a sense of pride that
they are once again contributing to the household.
6) Re. Changes to the cost structure:
Yes - see above regarding eliminating the rest of the distribu-
7) Re. Changes to delivery time:
It was more efficient in that it was not affected by disruptions
in the pipeline. For example, in direct food aid, problems with
procurement or delays with transporters have thrown off the dis-
8) Re. Changes to the number and reach of the products and ser-
It allowed for quick substitutions when one product was not
available. Because it is more cost effective, the numbers of
households that can be fed with the same resources is higher.
9) Re. Equitable system:
We would need to conduct research on the implications of mone-
tary transfers (e.g. on gender dynamics, purchasing decisions,
stigma, community support, etc.) and are eager to hear from oth-
ers who have experience in this area.
Do let me know if I have left anything unanswered or if you have
any further questions.
Knowledge Management Advisor
John Snow International - Europe
66 South Lambeth Road
Vauxhall, London, SW8 1RL