Machinga — Oxfam on Wednesday launched a K46 million COVID-19 Response Project which, among other objectives, aims at cushioning vulnerable people from the effects of the pandemic in Machinga District.
Speaking at Joho Primary School in Traditional Authority (T.A.) Nsanama in the district, Oxfam's Southern Africa Regional Director, Nellie Nyang'wa said 2,500 households will receive once-off cash money of K15, 000.
"COVID-19 has disrupted the functionality of markets, farming and other economic activities people depend on. So this project is coming in just to support vulnerable families with some cash.
"We hope that the cash transfer will help them to support their families to have basic human needs. It is also our hope that this support will indirectly benefit children, especially a girl child," she said.
She also said K38 million has been allocated to support vulnerable families in five traditional authorities of Mlomba, Nkula, Sitola, Nsanama and Chamba.
Nyang'wa said another K6.9 million has also been reserved to support 1100 households from traditional authorities Nsanama and Chamba with hand washing buckets and tablets of soap.
"The project will build the capacity of protection workers such as child protection officers and victim support units' officers with 14 mobile phones and 800 IEC posters. he said.
"We want child protection officers to use the phones in tracking teenage pregnancies and child marriages in the communities," she said.
District Commissioner for Machinga, Rosemary Nawasha said she was happy that Machinga was one of the districts benefiting from the project.
"I am overwhelmingly happy today that Machinga of all the districts is to get this support.
"We are very sure that this support will go a long way towards controlling the spread of the virus in the district," she said.
She also asked Oxfam and other organisations to come forward and support the district with resources.
"We need resources to raise awareness to communities on new preventive measures. The district has an isolation centre but it needs to be filled with supplies," she added.
Nawasha also reported that although the district has recorded only 62 positive cases of coronavirus, there are many people who have not tested because of inadequate testing kits.
She also advised parents and other local leaders to look after their children during this period when schools are closed.
She disclosed that since the closing of schools, the district has registered 329 child marriages and 461 teenage pregnancies.