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Sweden funds emergency cash transfers to women and children in West Nile

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 56,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under the age of two including refugees in West Nile region are set to get emergency cash transfers thanks to yet another initiative by the World Food Programme and the Government of Uganda.

The transfers, funded through a social protection and health systems strengthening programme implemented jointly by WFP and UNICEF, are intended to stabilise women’s and children’s feeding following disruptions in their access to nutritious food during the COVID-19 lockdown which coincided with WFP food ration cuts to all refugees living in 13 settlements in Uganda.

WFP will direct the cash to 43,300 women and children who are benefiting from its Mother and Child Health and Nutrition initiative in addition to another 13,200 people assisted through the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP) and the Third Northern Uganda Social Action Fund III (NUSAF III) public works programmes.

DRDIP and NUSAF III are government of Uganda projects implemented under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). The DRDIP is a flagship government of Uganda project funded through a World Bank Grant to address the unmet social, economic and environmental needs in the 15 refugee hosting district communities and settlements in Uganda.

Each woman or child involved with the DRDIP/NUSAF III will receive a lump sum of 144,000 Shillings to meet their nutritious food needs over a period of three months. Each of the women and children on the MCHN programme will receive a two-months’ equivalent of 96,000 Shillings. The transfer will be distributed as cash through mobile bank vans to individuals identified as the most vulnerable by their communities in the districts of Adjumani, Arua, Madi Okollo, Koboko, Moyo, Obongi, Terego and Yumbe.

“The close partnership with WFP allowed us to quickly adapt our support at a time of crisis, re-allocating USD 4 million to the emergency transfer,” said Ola Hällgren, Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Sweden. “Through this support and other interventions, Sweden remains committed to contributing to Uganda’s efforts to address the negative impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities,” Hällgren said.

He added that Sweden had already committed USD 25 million to support Uganda’s efforts to improve the community and household resilience among refugees and host populations in West Nile when COVID-19 came. The Director, DRDIP/NUSAF, Dr Robert Limlim said that the government has an important role in mitigating the effects of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable individuals in Uganda.

“To be able to cover the most vulnerable households in a short time frame, cash transfers call for rigorous coordination between governments and humanitarian partners. That is where we come in, leveraging our experience working with Uganda’s refugee-hosting districts and settlements,” he said.

An Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis for June to December 2020 recommended strengthened social protection as one of the means by which refugees and host communities can be assisted to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, ration cuts and other challenges such as flooding and post-harvest food losses.

“That is exactly what we are doing,” said WFP Country Director El-Khidir Daloum. “Moreover, we are using the most optimal means of assistance – cash – to cushion women and children threatened by malnutrition,” Daloum said that WFP is extremely grateful for Sweden’s support, which will enable it to assist the most vulnerable people during the global pandemic.

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