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Zambia Economic Resilience Program (ZERS) Draft Program Description for Comment

Post Date

February 22nd 2011

Application Due Date

March 4th 2011

Funding Opportunity Number


CFDA Number(s)

Funding Instrument Type(s)

Cooperative Agreement

Funding Activity Categories

Food and Nutrition

Draft program descrption for comments

Number of Awards


Eligibility Categories



  • Estimated Total Funding:


  • Award Range:

    $20000000 - $25000000

Grant Description

Zambia Economic Resilience Program (ZERS) RFA Draft for Comment APPLICATIONUSAID/Zambia plans to issue a Request for Application (RFA) to award a Cooperative Agreement valued at approximately US$20 to $25 million over four years to increase economic resilience of vulnerable rural households. Send no applications to USAID at this time. This document is released for comment only. The Zambia Economic Resilience (ZERS) for Improved Food Security Program will enhance coping skills, build assets and increase rural incomes for vulnerable households in targeted areas, thereby significantly contributing to Millennium Development Goal 1 of halving the proportion of Zambians living in extreme poverty and suffering from hunger by 2015. ZERS will be a core activity in implementing President Obama’s Feed the Future (FTF) global hunger and food security initiative in Zambia. ZERS will contribute to FTF’s overarching goal to sustainably reduce global hunger and poverty by tackling their root causes and employing proven strategies for achieving large scale and lasting impact There are two key FTF objectives to achieving this goal: a. Accelerate inclusive agriculture sector growth including  Improved agricultural productivity;  Expanding markets and trade; and,  Increasing economic resilience in vulnerable rural communities. b. Improved Nutritional Status ZERS will build upon USAID-funded activities that link agricultural growth, nutrition and economic resilience efforts. ZERS will implement innovative strategies and approaches to enable vulnerable rural households, the poorest, including those affected by HIV/AIDS and other diseases, orphan and vulnerable child-headed households, and female-headed households, among others, to improve food security through strengthened economic resilience. Special attention will be given to enabling very poor women to participate in expanding opportunities as producers, service providers and entrepreneurs. The geographic focus of these activities is Eastern Province, and possible selected districts in Northern and Central Provinces. ZERS may fund one or several grants subject to the availability of funds. The Government reserves the right not to make any awards if such a decision is determined to be in its best interests. The project term is up to four years. Individual applications do not need to cover all potential geographic areas.   ZERS GOALS AND OBJECTIVES ZERS will increase the food security of 50,000 vulnerable and very poor rural households in targeted areas through implementing interventions that reduce the number of hunger months, improve nutrition and health practices, and increase the value of household assets and the ability of households to productively use those assets. These achievements are expected to contribute significantly to reducing stunting and underweight levels in the targeted households over a four year period. The vulnerable and very poor have some minimum set of assets but have been unable to move towards longer-term economic well-being and health. Frequently donor and government assistance to these households has been in the form of humanitarian relief, economic transfers or subsidies (e.g. of staple foods). Through ZERS, USAID/Zambia seeks to support innovative ideas, concepts and programs to increase the economic resiliency for the very vulnerable Zambian rural population in targeted areas, and reduce the need for humanitarian relief, and importantly, food subsidies. BACKGROUND It is widely recognized that food insecurity stems from a multiplicity of causes including few assets, poor health, exposure to natural and man-made disasters (e.g. floods, droughts, conflict). It is also well documented that the vulnerability status of households is not static, but that households evolve through changing demographic and economic states. However, poverty is also known to be transferred inter-generationally, suggesting that reducing the number of poor and vulnerable households can have a longer term impact on national well-being. There is extensive research on poverty reduction. Along with a demonstrated understanding of the existing knowledge on successful poverty reduction strategies, and experience in implementing successful programs, the Applicant should have an indepth understanding of the Zambian context so as to propose which models are relevant and where innovation is required to adapt to specific contexts. For example, Zambia is not considered to be land-constrained, but recent evidence suggests that access to land is a significant constraint for many households. Rural Zambian households also source up to 30% of their cash earnings from natural resource extraction, one of the factors contributing to Zambia’s extremely high deforestation rates. In addition, Zambia has an extremely low population density (13 inhabitants per sq km) and a fairly limited transport infrastructure (12.3 km per 100 sq km of land – 26th out of 58 SSA countries), so access to services and markets are a major constraint. Understanding the relationship between poverty, food insecurity, remoteness, and resource use in Zambia will be critical to the success of program interventions. Despite a bumper maize harvest in 2010, Zambia small holders remain food insecure. Most small holder farmers in the targeted areas have less than 2 ha of land and very low productivity; 2 percent of farmers contribute to 50 percent of the marketable maize. Most small holders produce less than 1 ton of maize per ha, which is 20 percent of what could be achieved with improved seed and inputs. This amount is insufficient to meet household needs and therefore most smallholders face a hunger season of several months, which is particularly acute during November, December, January, and February . In addition, there are limited off-farm income opportunities, especially for the poorest and most land constrained, hence a huge number of households go hungry even in a surplus year. Malnutrition rates in Zambia are exceedingly high with 45 percent of children under age 5 stunted The case for improved nutrition is unquestioned where malnutrition is an underlying cause in an estimated 54% of under-5 child deaths . Using dietary diversity as a measure, the 2007 DHS survey found that only 25% of children 6-23 months receive a minimum acceptable diet. In the presence of pervasive rural poverty, addressing malnutrition will require not only the provision of effective nutrition and health services, both at community and facility level, but also a serious effort to address problems of household food insecurity by addressing nutrition practices (particularly feeding practices for infant and young children), diet quality, food preparation and allocation, and intra-household inequities. TARGETING A GRZ Vulnerability Assessment Committee monitors food security-related vulnerability, but there are no official figures for the number of vulnerable households in rural areas. A recent analysis of poverty among agricultural households in Eastern Province showed a great number of poor rural households. Over 80 percent of smallholder households (<20 hectares) in Eastern Province earn less than $0.70 per capita per day (258,000 out of 300,000). For these poorest smallholders, 80 percent of income originates from agricultural production, and average land size is less than 2 ha. Up to 20 percent of these poorest households are headed by single women. In contrast, those smallholders in Eastern Province earning $2.00 or more per capita per day own more land (on average 4.66 ha), earn less than 40 percent of their income from agriculture, and only 6 percent are headed by single women. Beginning with available data, the Applicants will need to clearly identify the most salient characteristics of vulnerability. Successful applicants will implement several complementary interventions to address food security, accelerate economic integration, and improve the nutrition of the vulnerable and very poor. Defining characteristics of the targeted vulnerable groups should include: • Rural (according to Census definitions) • Minimum set of assets – land and/or labor • Household income below the poverty line of $1.25/day Possible other characteristics might include: • Female-headed - widowed or divorced • Household with person living with AIDS (PLWA) or other chronic and debilitating diseases • Household caring for or headed by orphan or vulnerable Child (OVC) • Disabled household head or member • Other characteristics demonstrated to create or indicate a high degree of vulnerability to food insecurity POTENTIAL INTERVENTIONS Past USAID-funded and other programs have demonstrated that an integrated approach to improved food security - addressing availability, access and utilization components, as well as linkages to nutrition and health, and gender relations has had positive results. For example, under a Positive Deviance model (PD Hearth), three-quarters of under age 5 children treated for under nutrition made significant weight gains when their diets included legumes and other high protein supplements, combined with improved health and sanitary practices, and access to clean water . Some microfinance schemes follow a Positive Deviance model in which seed capital is not injected into communities, but revolving loan funds are created based on the capital available within communities, and members increase their ability to borrow based on the amount of shares they are able (and willing) to invest in the loan fund. Approaches that target the farm household, all members including men and women, have been shown to be effective in improving the use of resources and changing household food security . Another approach that may have potential impact is the “Food Security Pack,” a cost-effective package of inputs originally developed and implemented by the Program Against Malnutrition (PAM) in 2000, and now operated entirely by the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDDS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MACO) and the Ministry of Finance and National Planning (MoFNP.) The food security pack presently targets “vulnerable but viable” farmers with a package of inputs, including seed and fertilizer, and training in conservation farming and food processing for a two year period. Beneficiaries are required to pay back (in grain) 10-20% of the value of the provided inputs, which is provided to neediest households by local food security committees. Recent data indicates that 60% of targeted beneficiaries are women (28% female headed ). The food security pack is reported as “graduating” as many as 50% of its beneficiaries (defined as the ability to purchase adequate inputs after two years). ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Successful ZERS interventions will also be able to identify economic opportunities within targeted areas and create links to successful enterprises and activities. USAID/Zambia will implement complementary programs to support staple food value chain developments in the targeted areas. In addition, population, health and nutrition programs will also be implemented in these areas, and links to the interventions are critical to ensure consistent messaging, clearly identify appropriate target groups, and monitor performance and impact. The successful applicant will benefit from linking to these investments. It is anticipated that successful applications will improve cost efficiencies, capitalize on new ways to achieve development objectives, and increase the sustainability of programs. The following design parameters must be addressed in the project application and budget: 1. Address Mission cross-cutting issues including environment, gender, HIV/AIDS and microenterprise. The applicant must propose strategies to ensure that women fully participate in and benefit from the project, and will ensure adequate gender skills/qualifications in project staffing – which may include gender balance in staffing – in order to effectively work with women as project participants/beneficiaries. In particular, the overall activity will effectively utilize $1.5 m for HIV/AIDS prevention activities for PEPFAR Abstinence and Faithfulness (A/B) activities. 2. Provide a detailed Performance Management Plan (PMP) in the proposal. The PMP will include indicators, baselines and targets to achieve the intended results and contribute to the FTF Results Framework. 3. Outline specific steps and targets (including amount of funding) for implementation of specific components of this activity by Zambian partners, including GRZ provincial agriculture offices or other host country ministries, institutes or other government agencies, and Zambian civil society organizations. 4. Outline how a Development Innovation Venture Fund grant component of up to 10 % of total funding could be used to identify, test and promote innovative approaches to linking agriculture and nutrition interventions to reduce under-nutrition. RESULTS AND PERFORMANCE STANDARDS The ZERS activities should lead to the following results: • Increased access of very poor farming households to commercial sources of inputs and non-financial supporting services, including extension and agronomic services; • Very poor farming households apply improved crop production and post-harvest practices; • Increased productivity by very poor farming households; • Increased access of very poor farming households to financial services; • expanded incomes and assets of very poor farming households through improved food self-sufficiency, from the sale of food staple and other higher value crops, and from non-farm sources • expanded non-farm employment and enterprise opportunities for very poor households The Applicant will propose targets for the following minimum performance standards. 1. Increased expenditures (proxy for income) of rural households, including female-headed households 2. Increased resilience of vulnerable communities and households: Change in average score on Household Hunger Index 3. Increased Food Security: Prevalence of households with moderate or severe hunger 4. Improved Agricultural Productivity: Gross margin per unit of land or animal of selected product 5. Improved access to diverse and quality foods: Percent of children 6-23 months that received a Minimum Acceptable Diet

Contact Information

  • Agency

    Agency for International Development

  • Office:

    Zambia USAID-Lusaka

  • Agency Contact:

    Cecilia Kasoma
    Acquisition and Assistance Speciali
    Phone +260 211254303

  • Agency Mailing Address:

  • Agency Email Address:

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