The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) in the Office of the Vice President says it has confidence in the system which it has used in targeting beneficiaries in the food distribution exercise currently in progress.
Since June, the department and its partners have been handing out food and rolling out social protection activities in response to the food insecurity situation in the country.
Similar programmes in the past have been blighted by reports that well-off households were benefiting from such aid instead of the deserving vulnerable.
To stem the problem, Dodma is this time using a method it calls Unified Beneficiary Registry (UBR) for targeting the beneficiaries.
This is a departure from heavy reliance on chiefs and local structures to do the identification.
Communications Officer in the department, Jeremiah Mphande, described UBR as a harmonised approach of targeting beneficiaries for social protection programmes.
The system uses Management Information System (MIS) where a 50 percent of the ultra-poor was registered and properly ranked according to their social economic statuses in each village in the whole district.
“So in this case, social cash transfer picked 10 percent of the total eligible households into the social cash transfer programme. Public works picked their own percentage and disaster too picked some beneficiaries from the same,” he said.
Mphande said through this method, identification and registration of the households was done thoroughly and underwent through various checks before being accepted.
“With this in place there are very minimal inclusion and exclusion errors as compared to other targeting tools,” he said.
The system has effectively left out traditional leaders in selecting beneficiaries into the food-aid related programmes.
Mphande said however that this system of selecting beneficiaries has proven to be helpful as real vulnerable people are targeted as compared to using other formulas.
He added that if UBR could be improved, it could be the best model to use in targeting beneficiaries into various social protection programmes across the country in future as it minimises the problem of duplication.
“[The system] creates synergies of various social protection programmes and thereby limiting duplication in targeting,” he said.
He said the method has proven effective and been appreciated in the distribution of maize donated by the AfDB.
“On the other hand, to check the possibility of abuses of resources, we do continuous verification of beneficiaries mostly those on MVAC [Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee]. Targeting using UBR would also facilitate graduation of beneficiaries from the social programmes,” Mphande said.
Alongside the system, all districts in the country have structures that assist in the coordination of Disaster Risk Management programmes. These include District Civil Protection Committees, Area Civil Protection Committees and Village Civil Protection Committees.
According to Dodma, these structures are key in disaster response as they act as entry point, on top of being first respondents to disasters.
“These structures act as our arm at local level. However to complement their efforts in order to minimise some discrepancies, we usually conduct comprehensive supervisions and monitoring so that we achieve our common goal in DRM [disaster risk management]. We also have feedback mechanisms in place through suggestion boxes and toll free lines where issues are raised to responsible officers,” Mphande said.
Malawi is facing food shortage owing largely to two consecutive growing seasons of unfavourable weather. Up to 6.5 million people will need support until the next harvest, government says.
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