VIOLET MENGO, Lufwanyama
EIGHTY-YEAR-OLD Milika Lutanda is one beneficiary of the social cash transfer programme in Lufwanyama whose life has been transformed in the last three years
She lives with her husband Luka Tomo, 92, her two grandchildren, Verity, 17, and Yvette Chizozo, 10, in Kopeka village of Shibuchinga chiefdom.
Excited by the visit of Finnish journalists, officials from the embassy, Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare and Save the Children staff, Ms Lutanda was quick to point out that her life has drastically changed since she was enrolled on the social cash transfer programme.
Spreading a reed mat for the delegation at her home, Ms Lutanda was full of praises for the Government and stakeholders involved in the programme for uplifting the lives of the vulnerable in society.
“I was enrolled on the cash transfer programme in 2015. At the time, I used to live in a thatched house. With the money I receive monthly, I was able to buy roofing sheets for the house we live in now,” she says.
“I am also able to buy school uniforms for my grandchildren and have been able to pay their school fees with ease.”
Her eldest granddaughter, Verity, wants to be a nurse.
“I never used to have shoes and oftentimes my young sister and I would go to school on empty stomachs due to lack of food at home. However, through the SCT, my grandmother bought shoes and we are able to eat before we go to school,” says Verity.
Verity, a Grade Nine pupil at Kapilamikwa Secondary School, is happy that she has an opportunity to go to school because her grandmother is a beneficiary of the social cash transfer.
Initially, Ms Lutanda used to get K140 per month but she now gets K180 after the amount was revised.
With the money she has been receiving, she has been able to buy goats and cultivate two hectares of land with hired helpers.
“In the 2016/2017 farming season, I was able to produce over 80 bags of maize. I sold 70 bags to the Food Reserve Agency and remained with 10 for household consumption,” she said.
The octogenarian, who also receives farm inputs from Save the Children, is among 5,483 beneficiaries of the social cash transfer in Lufwanyama district. But her story is one that illustrates the positive impact of the social cash transfer programme.
In the programme Government targets extremely underprivileged households for poverty reduction and curbing the intergenerational transfer of poverty.
Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare officer in Lufwanyama, Musiyalike Kaingu, said Government targets incapacitated households headed by the elderly, severely disabled, too young or too sick to cope with their challenging situations.
“The programme has shown positive impact on the vulnerable in the area. Many aged parents are now able to take their grandchildren back to school and also ensure good nutrition at household level,” Ms Kaingu said.
The social cash transfer programme was introduced in 2003 and to date, over 590,000 households in Zambia have benefited from it.
Ms Lutanda’s story shows that the programme is promoting household food security, children’s wellbeing, improving living conditions and increasing productivity, as well as ownership of productive assets among the poor.
Minister of Community Development and Social Welfare Emerine Kabanshi says apart from creating food security at household level, the programme is uplifting livelihoods.
And the Impact Evaluation of the social cash transfer programme for 2015 found that the number of households eating more than one meal a day has increased by 19 percent.
The evaluation also showed a reduction in poverty levels.
VIOLET MENGO, Lufwanyama