You are currently viewing Social cash transfer empowering Zambians

Social cash transfer empowering Zambians

IT IS encouraging to note that efforts by the Zambian government to mitigate the suffering of the vulnerable but viable citizens especially in rural areas through the social cash transfer has been recognised by the international community.
It is an indisputable fact that most Zambians who live below the poverty line are in rural areas, and the poverty levels in remote areas are far higher than in urbanised settlements.
The social cash transfer scheme, therefore, has been a vital programme which has assisted vulnerable households to raise their incomes and improve education and health levels, which is key for citizens to become economically productive.
Government initiated the social cash transfer in 2003, with an objective to reduce extreme poverty and the inter-generational transfer of poverty among beneficiary households. The programme, which is implemented by the Ministry of Community Development, provides cash to incapacitated and destitute households on a monthly basis.
Majority of households in need of basic support are headed by the elderly, widowed and the disabled. Beneficiary households are entitled to K140 per month.
Last year, over 180,000 households benefited from the programme in 50 districts. Government hopes to increase the number to 240,000 in 78 districts at a cost of K260 million.
Government opted to increase the number of beneficiaries as opposed to the amount dispersed to enable as many vulnerable Zambians as possible access the funds.
It is pleasing to observe that stakeholders have come on board and are going to contribute K52 million towards the programme this year.
An American research organisation has hailed Zambia’s social cash transfer scheme as a shining example of how some programmes are alleviating hunger and increasing food supply in poor African Countries.
The Washington-based American Institute for Research said in a statement released on its behalf by the Africa Press Organisations from Washington that Zambia’s success story has provided hope for the entire continent.
The statement is based on the findings of two studies commissioned by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Zambia on the effectiveness of the country’s social cash transfer programme as a poverty alleviation tool.
It is said overall, researchers found that a cash transfer programme geared toward families with at least one young child had effects that amounted to a net benefit of K1.5 for each Kwacha.
It is indisputable that if income inequalities are not seriously addressed, they can be fertile ground for disenchanted citizens, which can lead to deeper social and economic problems.
As such, the social cash transfer scheme is one of the key tools of delivering social protection.
It is undeniable that social protection is a vital pillar to the overall development of a nation as there can never be sustainable development when majority of citizens are wallowing in extreme poverty.
This programme, therefore, is timely and Government deserves commendation for the strides made in reducing poverty, especially in rural areas.
However, it is hoped that the programme will continue to benefit the targeted population. It is prudent that taxpayers’ money allocated to this programme is used for the intended purpose.
Effective use of public funds for the programme is not only good for transparency but it will encourage co-operating partners to fund the programme.
It is important that Government continues to put in place measures such as the social cash transfer to cushion effects of poverty on the economy.