Cablegate: Pilot Wfp Feeding Program in Former Commercial

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Pilot WFP Feeding Program in Former Commercial
Farming Areas

REF: Harare 02241


1. On December 18 in a meeting for donor
representatives, the World Food Programme (WFP)
presented details of its proposed pilot program for
extending general food distribution into newly resettled
(i.e., former commercial farming) areas. This meeting
followed the delivery of letters from the European Union
and United Kingdom confirming their support of the WFP
pilot. The procedures that WFP presented in the meeting
outlined processes for beneficiary selection, food
distribution and monitoring that are similar to those
currently followed in the communal areas, but involve
additional monitoring mechanisms to address issues of
potential politicization and transparency. WFP's
presentation credibly addressed donor concerns about the
feasibility of following these processes and
demonstrated significant forethought regarding how the
plan could be implemented in the special context of the
newly resettled areas. On the basis of this
presentation, post concludes that the pilot program
appears viable and will inform WFP that we do not object
to moving forward on a pilot basis, as was already
agreed by the EU. Post will explicitly remind WFP that
it is not authorized to expand the pilot feeding program
beyond the initial two districts without a full
evaluation and concurrence from major donors. End

Donor approval of the pilot:

2. In a letter to the WFP on December 15, the European
Union confirmed its support for WFP's proposed pilot
program in two districts in the former commercial
farming areas. Post has forwarded this letter to
Washington. In a related letter from the United Kingdom
to the EU, the British High Commissioner emphasized that
the approval of the pilot "does not imply agreement to
subsequently roll out the programme more widely without
a detailed review; nor does it imply availability of
additional funding."

3. As described in reftel, the United States had a
number of concerns about the feasibility of successfully
implementing free food distribution in the contentious
environment of these resettled areas. Based on WFP's
efforts to address these concerns, as discussed below,
post intends to convey its approval of the program in
two initial districts on a pilot basis only.

Details of the pilot and US concerns:

4. Following the approval of the pilot by the European
Union, WFP invited donor representatives to a
presentation to discuss the details of the pilot. The
USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director and the Zimbabwe Food
For Peace Officer attended.

5. In the presentation, WFP staff and partners who will
implement the pilot (Save the Children/UK and CARE,
International) described details regarding: access to
the former commercial farming areas; beneficiary
selection and registration; verification of the
vulnerability of registered beneficiaries and lack of
vulnerability of non-beneficiaries; food distribution
management; and monitoring. The program's design is
substantially similar to the procedures used by NGOs in
the communal areas, with special care to sensitize and
inform all concerned government officials of the
procedures, and intensified public information,
verification of registrations, and monitoring.

6. The presentation and ensuing discussion addressed
the major practical and policy issues that have been of
concern to the US: 1) the potential for success using
current community-based methods for beneficiary
selection and food distribution in the commercial
farming areas, where there are no traditional
communities and where ZANU-PF party structures are the
primary representatives of local authority, and 2) the
limited access granted to the international community
when unimpeded access is needed to assess the extent and
degree of vulnerability and to monitor food aid

Compensating for lack of communities:

7. To compensate for the lack of community networks,
WFP and the NGO Implementing Partner (IP) staff will
announce public meetings and display posters in numerous
public arenas (e.g., schools, markets, shops, and
drinking establishments), in all population clusters
(i.e., both farmers' villages and farm workers'
compounds) to be covered from a distribution point. The
announcements will emphasize the importance of
attendance by a representative from every household.

8. The entire process of beneficiary selection,
registration and distribution will be conducted in these
public arenas and will be closely observed by staff of
the IPs and WFP. All selection criteria will be based
on economic or inherent vulnerabilities. Only
households identified as objectively lacking means for
self-support (low/no income; low/no crop harvest; few/no
livestock) will be eligible. Among this broad group of
eligible households, those with inherent vulnerabilities
(e.g., the lack of able-bodied family members; support
of a large number of dependents, particularly the
chronically ill, disabled, or orphans; or the lack of
land or income) will be prioritized. WFP and the IPs
explained that they will not explicitly query potential
beneficiaries regarding occupational status (i.e.,
resettled farmer versus farm work), to avoid any
appearance of politicization. They will, however,
exclude from eligibility those conducting business or
earning regular salaries, e.g., business employees,
teachers and other public servants. The implementing
NGOs estimate that a substantial majority of qualifying
beneficiaries (approximately 80%) will be former
commercial farm workers.

9. In order to ensure that intimidation and
politicization do not result in the exclusion of those
who are vulnerable, WFP will double its efforts at
household verification. Under the food distribution
program in communal areas, the IPs conduct verification
on 10% of the registered households. For this pilot
exercise, the IPs will examine a minimum of 20% of the
registered households to confirm eligibility and
vulnerability prior to any distribution of food.
Verification of additional households will continue each
month after the first distribution, such that 100% of
registered households should be verified within a 5-
month period.

10. Before each food distribution, the list of
beneficiaries will be read publicly, and those attending
the reading will have the opportunity to affirm their
agreement or to raise any objections to the list or to
any name included or excluded from the list.

11. The food distribution process will be managed and
monitored by teams selected by the communities in a
public forum overseen by the IP. These teams will be
assembled to fairly represent the various vulnerable
segments of the community (with significant
representation of former farm workers), and to not
include individuals in any position of influence who
could be in conflict with the program's impartiality.

12. Throughout every food distribution, IP and WFP
staff will be present to verify that the process is
correctly managed and will make themselves available to
receive feedback from any member of the community. WFP
emphasized that it has arranged for multiple channels of
communication (e.g., through its own monitors, IP
monitors and help desks consisting of beneficiaries) for
any potentially aggrieved individuals to raise questions
in confidence about the registration, verification
and/or distribution processes. If any problems or
concerns arise with beneficiary selection or
registration, WFP assured the donors that it would stop
any distributions and recreate the lists from scratch.

13. After each food distribution, a random sample of
both registered and unregistered households will be
canvassed during Post Distribution Monitoring. This
exercise will verify that food actually remains with the
intended beneficiaries, that recipients meet the
eligibility criteria and that recipients are indeed more
vulnerable than the non-recipients canvassed.

14. Additions and removals of names from beneficiary
lists will be made only by the IPs after careful
investigation of the circumstances of the households.
However, any resident of the distribution area may at
any time question the inclusion or omission of a
household from the list through numerous formal and
informal channels. Save the Children/UK will organize
a Children's Feedback Committee in its pilot area to
increase opportunities for children's voices to be

Access by the international community:

15. WFP stated explicitly that unimpeded access to the
pilot areas to disseminate information, verify
beneficiary eligibility, monitor distributions, and
conduct post-distribution monitoring is a necessary
condition to a successful pilot program. WFP explained
that before entering a community, it will ensure that it
has assurances of unimpeded access from national,
provincial and district government structures. WFP
insisted, however, that if any of these activities were
to be impeded, it would immediately suspend food
distribution until the issues were satisfactorily

16. As a next step to discuss issues of access, the IPs
and WFP will present their plan at the Provincial,
District and Ward levels. Using the GOZ/WFP Memorandum
of Understanding (which includes a flowchart of the
registration, distribution and monitoring processes and
places the IPs in charge of the process), WFP will
explain the use of village assemblies to select
beneficiaries solely on the basis of vulnerability. WFP
will seek written acknowledgement of agreement to the
process at the Provincial level.

17. WFP stated that the local political structures of
the Zanu-PF party established at the time of the farm
invasions (the "Committees of 7"), will have no role in
the pilot activities.

18. WFP invited donors to send 1-2 national staff as
observers to the pilot activities. USAID/Zimbabwe is
arranging to send its FSN food monitor to observe the
pilot at all stages.


19. WFP's plans for the pilot feeding program in former
commercial farming areas demonstrates careful
consideration of the difficult circumstances in these
areas and puts in place a number of additional
mechanisms to monitor the program carefully. Consistent
with the approvals WFP has already received from the EU
and UK, post will inform WFP that the USG does not
object to moving forward with the feeding program on a
pilot basis. Post will explicitly remind WFP that it is
not authorized to expand the pilot program beyond the
initial two districts without a full evaluation and
concurrence from the major donors. USAID/Zimbabwe will
arrange for its Food for Peace Field Monitor to observe
the pilot program and will keep Washington informed of

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