Government has rolled out the social cash transfer programme in Kasungu which has earmarked 17 000 households in the district to benefit over a period of four years.
Speaking during the launch of the programme in the district on Thursday, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Dr Jean Kalirani, said the families have been targeted basing on their level of poverty.
“After the Universal Beneficiary Registration [UBR], the households that were ultra-poor were identified to be part of the social cash transfer in order for them to find food and be able to send children to school and buy them required materials,
“I have evidence that in some areas where there is social cash transfer, people have
benefitted a lot by building houses roofed with iron sheets, buying livestock, starting small businesses and joining Village Savings and Loans [VSLs] groups,” said Kalirani.
The minister urged the beneficiaries to make good use of the cash transfers.
“There are many who could have qualified for this programme but you are the ones who were chosen so you should make use of this so that at the end of the four years you should be economically independent,” said the Minister.
The minister also warned traditional leaders and beneficiaries that the money given to the households was not for sharing but to benefit the poor households and that the beneficiaries should not use the money for booze.
One of the beneficiaries, Satuwelo Makalani Banda, who is HIV positive, thanked government for the programme saying it will help improve people’s livelihoods.
“There are a lot of problems in the villages and people, like children and the elderly, are suffering a lot. What has been done will help us a lot,” said Makalani.
The Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme was designed to alleviate poverty, reduce malnutrition and improve school enrolment by delivering regular and reliable cash transfer to the ultra-poor households that are labour constrained.
A day later Kalilani visited Ntchisi where she assured targeted beneficiaries of the Social Cash Transfer Scheme in Ntchisi district that they will soon start receiving their money.
She was speaking at a meeting held at Malomo Rural Growth Centre in Traditional Authority Chilooko’s area which drew together targeted beneficiaries from Kanyulunyulu Cluster in the district.
“You need not lose hope as you will soon start getting your money most likely during the month of August and the good thing is
that the money will be paid in arrears from April this year,” said the minister attracting applause from the registered beneficiaries and other people.
Kalirani appealed to them to ensure that the money they will be getting is put into good use.
Executive Director for the National Local Government Finance Committee, Charles Mandala said all the preparatory work such as registration and verification of beneficiaries has been completed and beneficiaries will be accessing it soon.
Chief Chilooko expressed gratitude to government for initiating the program which he described as important in uplifting people’s livelihoods.
“We had a dry spell this year which has resulted in most households having inadequate food. With the money people will receive under the program, they will be able to buy food among other basic needs,” said Chilooko.
Alineti Chithyola Tembo from Kavulala Village who is among the targeted beneficiaries said she is looking forward to receiving the money as it will enable her provide food for her family and be able to pay school fees for her children.
“I am a widow and I struggle to provide basic needs for my four children single handedly. Through this program, my family’s living standards will be improved,” she said.
The Malawi Government introduced the Social Cash Transfer Scheme locally known as Mtukula Pakhomo in 2006 on a pilot phase in Mchinji district.
Under the program which is now rolling out in all the 28 districts, cash is transferred to ultra poor and vulnerable households.
The amounts vary depending on household size and the number of children of both primary and secondary school going age.
Ntchisi district has 5,395 people identified to benefit under the program.