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Rural Communities In Malawi Benefit From Cash Transfer Scheme

posted 4 Jul 2013, 10:25 by Mpelembe   [ updated 4 Jul 2013, 10:26 ]

Malawi's Social Cash Transfer (CST) program launched by the government in 2006 to improve the lives of thousands living in poor rural communities is already making a difference. The program wants to reduce hunger as well as promote health and child education.

 MCHINJI, MALAWI (RECENT) (FAO) -  A social protection program aimed at reducing poverty and hunger, while at the same time improving child education and health is changing people's lives in Mchinji district, central Malawi.

The Social Cash Transfer program (SCT) was launched in 2006 by the Malawi government and targets poor households providing them with cash to help increase their capacity to break away from poverty.

Every month thousands of residents like Delia Demisoni receive $14 dollars from the program to help them improve their lives.

Demisoni lost her husband to HIV/AIDS and is also HIV positive. She has one child and is responsible for four others who lost their parents to the disease.

Demisoni says things have improved since she started receiving the monthly stipend.

Currently the program provides a monthly contribution to more than 26,000 households.

"The project has really changed my life, before I had literally nothing, now things are better. Until now I didn't have any good clothes and my children didn't have any good clothes. As for food, well, that was a really big problem for me," she said.

The social cash transfer program also aims at helping families send their children to school and create HIV/AIDS awareness in their communities.

The government is also working with its partners on the program to increase food production which is the main source of livelihood for communities here.

Many households are investing part of the money they receive in agricultural assets like tools, fertilizers, and pesticides to increase their yields.

"The social cash transfer program supports the ultra-poor and labor-constrained households to be able to engage in agriculture to produce for the growth and the well-being of the households," said Paul Kansinjiro, an official at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare.

According to the UN, social protection programs when combined with other rural development interventions help create paths out of poverty for the poor.

Some beneficiaries of the program are now able to hire workers to tend their farms, which has reduced child labour and encouraged more children to stay in school.

Studies indicate that 90 to 95 percent of all the money distributed is being spent locally, because program beneficiaries can afford more and better goods and services from local businesses.

The Social Cash Transfer in Malawi is one of four 'pilot countries' selected as a focus for the initiative.