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Feasibility Study on Cash and Voucher Assistance Programming in central province of Zambia

21 August 2020 — By Binod Koirala, Plan International

Zambia is suffering from a slow-onset food insecurity crisis caused by a failed and late 2018/2019 rain season, which caused reduced and failed crop production resulting in 58 districts in Zambia currently experiencing acute food insecurity. Projected figures estimate 2.3 million people will be in IPC 3 or 4 food insecurity by March 2020. Identifying Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) as a preferred modality of response by the humanitarian agencies including the donors, Plan International Zambia conducted a feasibility study on cash and/or vouchers in Chisamba & Chibombo districts of Central Province where Plan International is responding in order to understand the suitability of using cash and/or vouchers modality for food, education, protection and early recovery interventions under the broader framework of its’ Response Plan.
The study adopted a mixture of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to gather the data. Primary data was collected from 7 markets in 2 districts (Chisamba & Chibombo). This approach included conducting individual interviews with the traders and key informant interviews (KII) with the local authority, as well as individual observation of market places Individual interviews were conducted with potential financial service providers. Similarly, meetings were organized with the key government officials, peer agencies, Cash Working Group and possible service providers in Lusaka. Secondary information was collected through a literature review including evaluation reports on CVA interventions that have been implemented in the country.
The following key determinants, which guide whether the cash and /or voucher in a particular area is feasible or not were carefully assessed and analyzed to ensure a conclusive position on the viability of CVA within the response..

• The general CVA environment in the country and acceptance of cash and vouchers by the government
• Functional markets with adequate stock to absorb increased demand, robust supply chain, relatively stable price of the commodities
• Willingness of the traders to participate in the cash and voucher interventions
• Availability of financial service providers, and their willingness to collaborate with the programme
• Coordination with peer agencies to harmonize the CVA practices
• Technical capacity (including implementation) of the organization
• Security environment in the project areas with appropriate risk assessment completed

The feasibility study found cash and/or voucher assistance being suitable in some of the assessed markets and their catchment communities in order to achieve, in particular, the food security and early recovery outcome. The most suitable forms of cash or vouchers and their transfer values have been recommended. Recommendations have also been made in relation to the service providers, and coordination with peer agencies and coordination platforms.