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Irish Government Donates K170 million to the Social Cash Transfer Programme in Malawi

UNICEF Malawi/2010/Chinyama
© UNICEF Malawi/2010/Chinyama
Irish Ambassador to Malawi Liam Mac Gabhann and UNICEF Country Representative, Carrie Auer signing the Memorandum of Understanding.

Lilongwe, 6th October 2010: The Government of Ireland, through Irish Aid, has donated K170 million (€850,000) to the government to support the Social Cash Transfer programme in Malawi.

The grant, to be administered through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), will cover activities during the period 2010-2011.

Speaking after signing a Memorandum of Understanding on 6th October, Irish Ambassador to Malawi Liam Mac Gabhann said the grant was an important part of Ireland’s overall support to Malawi. It will help to compliment existing Irish support in the areas of food and nutrition security and disaster risk reduction.

He said Ireland was keen to play an active role in working with the government to improve household resilience, especially for the most vulnerable sections of society and was actively supporting the government to finalize the National Social Support Policy. Ireland would also continue to support the government in improving the effectiveness and co-ordination of social support programmes, especially those targeting the poorest of the poor.

“We are pleased to support the Government’s efforts to improve the well-being of families living in ultra-poverty in Malawi. As well as signifying our commitment to the people of Malawi, this grant will provide cash grants to some 98,000 people living in ultra poverty who are currently being reached by the social cash transfer programme,” he said. “Of particular importance is that the social cash transfer scheme is designed to benefit large numbers of women and children who will use this support to improve the situation in which they live. The benefits of cash transfer are not only of huge signifigance to the direct beneficaries but also have an indirect benefit for communities as a whole. The rigorous research and evaluation components of the pilot programme provide compelling evidence on these multiple benefits and especially in terms of how cash transfers go beyond welfare interventions and actually help to stimulate economic growth at a local level.”

Acknowledging the contribution, Minister of Gender, Children and Community Development Honourable Theresa Mwale thanked the Government of Ireland for the contribution and reiterated the Government’s commitment to eradicating poverty in Malawi, especially among children.

“This grant has come at a timely period. It will not only help us bridge a funding gap in the programme by ensuring that supported families continue to receive their monthly grants,” the Honorable Minister said, “it also comes soon after global leaders, including His Excellency the President Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika, renewed their commitment to eradicating poverty by 2015 at the Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York.”

The social cash transfer programme in Malawi was initially piloted in Mchinji district in 2006 and eventually extended to six other districts. Designed to alleviate ultra-poverty, the scheme provides cash grants to families that live on one meal or less a day, cannot afford essential items like soap and clothing, are not able to earn an income, and have three or more dependants. Typically, these families are headed by grandparents looking after several orphans, child-headed families, and households headed by the chronically ill or disabled.

Currently, the programme is being implemented in Mchinji, Likoma, Machinga, Salima, Mangochi, Chitipa and Phalombe, with Mchinji being the only district where it is being implemented at scale. It is reaching 24,308 families or about 98,000 individuals.

“We are delighted with the grant from the Irish Government because it will also benefit the 65,000 children who are in the programme,” said UNICEF Representative Carrie Auer, whose organization will administer the grant with the Government. “The grant demonstrates the Irish Government’s ongoing commitment to improving the lives of children in Malawi. It adds to previous donations of K80 million for a micronutrient survey donated in November 2008, K24 million for implementation of the social support roadmap granted in September 2009 and K220 million to support the implementation of the National Nutrition Policy.”

Download the press release [PDF]

 

 
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