Uganda Red Cross Has Introduced Cash Support Tailored to Suit Individual Needs

One of the beneficiaries peeps into an envelope handed to him by Red Cross.

Uganda Red Cross Society has introduced a new model of relief intervention where it says it will be giving out cash to people affected by natural disasters.

The flagship intervention was made Tuesday in Namabasa village in Mbale district, Eastern Uganda where at least 245 families affected by the floods that hit the area in December received financial assistance.

In December 2019, areas around Mt. Elgon suffered adverse flooding effects and landslides which caused destruction of public infrastructures, human settlements, as well as farmlands, causing huge loses to famers in terms of crop destruction and livestock deaths.

Close to 1218 households in the districts of Mbale and Butaleja were left homeless and majority were displaced. Food items such as Potatoes, cassava, beans, rice soya beans bananas, yams and maize were also destroyed hence exposing families to hunger.

Uganda Red Cross gave Shs 84million in cash to a total of 1458 individuals from 245 families. The funds were availed to Uganda Red Cross by the German Red Cross.

“The money is sent using mobile phone money transfer services. The Programme is meant to compliment the usual nonfood relief items that we provide during disaster response. It allows people a chance to make choices of what they want to access during or after a disaster,” said Robert Kwesiga, Secretary General.

“It also builds and maintains the dignity of people when they have purchasing power to meet an immediate need as opposed to making choices for them when we show up with pre-designed emergency response kits which sometimes are not their immediate needs,” Kwesiga added.

Uganda Red Cross had earlier provided relief nonfood items, and other life line services to the people affected by the floods.

The humanitarian agency maintains that the Cash program has been introduced only as a compliment to the already exiting response mechanisms.

A Rapid Assessment for Markets (RAM) was conducted in the two affected districts and findings indicated that Cash based Intervention is feasible. Uganda Red Cross has so far mobilized funds to conduct the pilot in Mbale.

“This is why we are giving out the money to area where we are today. One might think and ask why Namabasa. Those without mobile phones will receive Cash in Envelopes. All families who are receiving money today were involved in the initial process and they are excited to receive money,” said Joram Musinguzi, Program officer for the Cash Transfer Project.

On whether the cash model is sustainable, Irene Nakasita, the Public Relations Officer for Uganda Red Cross admitted it is expensive, but that it caters for the immediate needs of the affected persons.

“It is very expensive because some families are large. We give out this money depending on the needs. But as long as we have the funds, it is sustainable because it caters for particular family interests. Someone might be in need of sanitary pads, but then we give them a tarpaulin. It won’t help them,” Nakasita told SoftPower News.

She also said this model will not be applied to all emergencies.

“Where we can’t, we shall only use our core response as we have been doing”.

Commenting on the appeal made by Uganda Red Cross last year  for funding towards supporting the displaced persons in Bundibugyo, Sironko and Bududa, Nakasita said there is progress being made. She said all those that were affected have since been assisted.

There has been donations by companies like Coca-Cola (Shs 180m), MTN Uganda (Shs 31m) and other support from international donors.

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