News / Africa

Some Aid Programs in Sahel Prefer Cash to Food

Some Aid Programs in Sahel Prefer Cash to Foodi
X
June 18, 2013
Humanitarian agencies in Africa's Sahel region are struggling to deal with a cycle of chronic food crisis. Some are moving away from traditional food aid in favor of "cash for work" programs that pay villagers to work on community improvement projects. The U.S. government is considering shifting as much as 45 percent of its $1.4 billion of traditional food aid in this direction. Nick Loomis has this report from the Diourbel region of Senegal, where one such program, funded by the USAID Food for Peace Initiative, has been underway for the past seven months.

Some Aid Programs in Sahel Prefer Cash to Food

TEXT SIZE - +
Nick Loomis
— Humanitarian agencies in Africa's Sahel region are struggling to deal with a cycle of chronic food crisis. Some are moving away from traditional food aid in favor of "cash for work" programs that pay villagers to work on community improvement projects. The U.S. government is considering shifting as much as 45 percent of its $1.4 billion of traditional food aid in this direction. One such program, funded by the USAID Food for Peace Initiative, has been underway for the past seven months.

It's market day in the village of Sadio, but it is also payday for these 800 beneficiaries of Catholic Relief Service's "Yokkuté" program.  

Yokkuté means "resilience" in the local Wolof language. By paying participants to work on projects that improve village agriculture and sanitation, Yokkuté aims to get them back on their feet after years of poor harvests.  

CRS Program Coordinator Pape Saïd says cash is better than food for this vulnerable population.

"The people can buy the food they would like to have. But people in need have more needs than food alone, like healthcare. So with cash, they can buy food, but they can also address their other needs," said Saïd.

But there are disadvantages to cash as well.

Some beneficiaries like Gass Kane prefer getting food or vouchers so relatives can't spend her earnings on non-essentials.

"We prefer the food because it's useful for the whole family," she said.

CRS does not force them to buy food with the money, but they do encourage it by paying them on market day. They say 87 percent is spent the same day on food. Local shop owners like Waly Faye can see the difference in their sales.

"This program supports the merchants. Before, it was only between the aid organization and the beneficiary. So with the Yokkuté program, they have brought in the small shop owners. So instead of two players, now it's three," said Faye.

Local farmers benefit too, as they can sell their produce and grain without having to compete with food imported from abroad.  CRS' Pape Saïd says the work that beneficiaries are doing will actually improve crop yields, even when there is little rain.

"In these half-moons, we are correcting the soil, which is mostly sand. So to increase the water retention, we add manure and compost. Good fertilization could double, triple or quadruple the harvests," said Pape.

Faty Niang appreciates the help in the meantime. She went into debt over the past few years trying to feed eight people, including her 104-year-old husband.

"We used to buy food and medicine with what we had, but now we use the program money for that and now we can save what we had before," said Niang.

She earned $72 for her work in village sanitation this month. Having already repaid her debts, she spent it all on 2 sacks of rice, 40 kilos of grain, 4 liters of cooking oil, 5 kilos of peanuts, 5 kilos of corn, and a bag of mixed vegetables.

She and her family are happy to be part of the program.

Aid groups are watching to see whether USAID will be funding more projects like Yokkuté.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid