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Feasibility study on cash and voucher assistance programming in the Borena zone, Oromia, and Zone One, Afar regions in Ethiopia

12 May 2022 — By Syed Mohammed Aftab Alam

OCHA reports close to seven million people living in the lowlands of Oromia, Somali, SNNP and Southwest regions continue to experience the effects of drought (including 3 million people in So-mali Region, 2.4 million in eastern Oromia and 1 million people in southern Oromia).
Following three consecutive poor rainy seasons, Ethiopia is experiencing one of the most severe drought events in recent history. Drought conditions are predominantly affecting south, south-east and north eastern parts of the country, where the crisis is already having a devastating impact on the lives and livelihood of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities. The impacts include deteriorating livestock body conditions (including deaths in several parts), significant harvest losses, declining household purchasing power especially as the prices of food has significantly raised while the price of livestock are depressed due low demand for the emaciated animals, and widespread water and food shortages.

A rapid feasibility study was conducted in the Borena zone of Oromia and Zone One of Afar regions evaluating the different enabling parameters (preconditions) as to understand the suitability of CVA in relation to protection, education, MHH (Menstrual Health and Hygiene) and livelihood out-comes.

The study adopted a mix of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to gather data across two regions in Ethiopia especially the Oromia and Afar affected by the drought and food insecurity. Primary data were collected through Focus Group Discussions; individual interviews with traders; Key Informant Interviews (KII) with local authorities and community leaders including transect walk along the markets. The study was led by Plan International’s global lead on Cash and Voucher Assistance and CVA Specialist and food security focal point from Plan Ethiopia.

The feasibility study found cash and/or voucher to be highly feasible for the project interventions to achieve the protection, education and livelihoods outcomes in Ethiopia. Humanitarian agencies have been undertaking CVA covering multiple needs of the affected population. There is an increased positive appetite for CVA by all stakeholder including the communities, humanitarian agencies, donors, financial service providers and authorities. The use of Cash /Voucher modality differs with the context such as Cash/voucher is feasible in both regions and also preferred by the host government. The extent to which CVA has already been used in past and current humanitarian response is a strong indicator of the feasibility of using the modality in future emergencies.