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Mobile money breaks the cash drought in Zimbabwe

She’s a proud mother of nine and a loving wife of 53 years. And above all, Florence is a survivor.

Zimbabwe’s five-year drought claimed Florence’s cattle and decimated her farming livelihood. As income dried up completely, she persevered.

At the height of the drought, Florence and her family faced life-threatening hunger and poverty. She explained, “We would try to crush stones to make gravel and then try to sell the gravel to those that are in construction and try to get something to eat. But it was really tough. At times we would go for up to three days without food and it was really difficult.”

When food grew dangerously scarce, 71-year-old Florence resorted to begging in order to feed her dependent grandchildren.

The drought was not Florence’s first encounter with hardship or loss.

Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith / OxfamAUS

“I had nine children, and out of the nine children, three passed away due to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. So I am left with six.”

She recalls each loss with a mother’s precision. “The first was born on 11 January 1966, the second was born on 4 January 1972, and the third was born on 26 December 1975. The first born passed on in 1982, the second passed on in 1992, the third passed on in 2002.”

“After the passing on of these three children, up to today, I have failed to recover. If it were not for Oxfam, I don’t know where I would be, I might be dead by now. It was really difficult for me. I never recovered since their deaths.”

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In rural Zimbabwe, families struggle to survive on less than US $1.25 per day.

“It got worse with the drought but I thank Oxfam for the assistance that I am getting,” Florence said. “I don’t know how I would have survived if it were not for Oxfam.”

We are in Zimbabwe using mobile technology to tackle the country’s crippling food and cash crisis. We’ve equipped the most vulnerable families with mobile phones to receive emergency cash transfers via text to pay for basic food items.

Florence with her mobile phone which she uses to receive cash transfers, and as a source of lighting in the evening.
Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith / OxfamAUS

When all seemed lost, Oxfam’s mobile cash transfers gave Florence and her family a rare glimpse of hope.

“[It was] a blessing because I knew that every time I got a message it was a message from Oxfam, indicating that something had just come in,” she said. “So now I can sleep peacefully.”

This ingenious technology reaches even the most remote communities, sending instant support to people in dire need. In the toughest of times, help is only a text message away.

The coming in of Oxfam into my life was a great relief,”

For hungry families in rural Zimbabwe — where food and money are desperately scarce — an SMS emergency cash transfer from Oxfam can alleviate hunger for one month.

Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith / OxfamAUS

“I’m getting $20 from Oxfam,” Florence said. “It is a lot for me. I feel so relieved and so full of joy, so happy!”

Florence received emergency cash transfers from September 2016 until December 2016, when funding for Oxfam’s mobile cash transfer program ran out. Her last life-saving SMS arrived six days before Christmas, at least five months away from her next harvest.

Help break the cycle of poverty

Families in Zimbabwe are facing an urgent hunger and cash crisis. Without food and water, children don’t have strength to attend school and thrive — and the cycle of poverty continues.

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