In the southern Madagascar town of Amboasary, Gertrude Tsangambelo is married to a teacher, not being paid for months. Then, she and her husband had to look for other means to support themselves and their children. Since Gertrude was selected as a beneficiary of the FIAVOTA cash-transfer program, their lives have radically changed, and they can think of a better future.
Like 9,000 other families in the program, which includes 22,500 children, Gertrude has been receiving a monthly payment of 100 000 Ar (around USD25) since December 2020. FIAVOTA (assistance in English) is an emergency cash transfer program designed to assist families severely affected by drought in southern Madagascar. It is led by the Ministry of Population, Social Protection, and the Promotion of Women and implemented by the Development Intervention Fund, with financial support from the Joint Sustainable Development Goals Fund, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
With her first payment, Gertrude decided to start raising livestock. She currently has one ox, 12 goats, and a dozen chickens. "In times of great need, such as illness, we sell one of our goats to buy medicine. Apart from that, our children have returned to school with enough school supplies. We can even afford to buy gifts for the children during the holidays," she says.
To support the program, an association of mothers was created to work with women beneficiaries. Pastroline Vatofara has been a member of the committee since 2017. "We hold regular training sessions for early childhood development and wellness with the women of the village," she recounts. Each month, she leads an experience-sharing session with about 20 mothers on topics related to family or education.
Persia Vola, another member of the FIAVOTA program says the committee advised her to seek medical treatment for her son when he was ill. "Two days of treatment were enough to relieve my son. Since this incident, I consult doctors in case of illness," she says. Angenie Jocelin, 14, says she often receives advice from her mother that she can apply to her daily life. "She shares essential information with me on the importance of studying and choosing the right friends. I must succeed in my studies. I also choose my friends carefully and avoid hanging out with them after school because I have to go home to finish my homework and revise," she says.