UNICEF's Social Policy, Advocacy and Communication programme works with the Government, civil society, the private sector and other partners to position and leverage resources for children in national planning processes such as the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS), and in other sector reforms and policy development processes.
In partnership with other UN agencies, UNICEF provides support to monitoring the MGDS and tracking Malawi's progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. The programme further leverages policies and resources for social protection as a means of reducing child poverty. The programme also provides support to Government and NGO partners to promote improved behaviour and social change through communication. The programme supports UNICEF's advocacy initiatives and encourages the participation of young people in decision-making through fora such as the children's parliament.
The first comprehensive socio-economic database on human development, MASEDA (Malawi’s version of DevInfo) was established with over 300 indicators compiled from a variety of sources. The database is seen by the government and partners as an important tool for monitoring progress of the PSRP.
As part of efforts to mitigate the impact of AIDS on children and to address widespread child poverty in Malawi, a pilot social cash transfer scheme, which started in Mchinji District in 2006 with support from UNICEF, was expanded to three other districts in 2007 with funding from the Global Fund, administered through the National AIDS Commission. By February 2008, the Scheme was reaching 17,000 children and 5,500 households. An evaluation of the Scheme by Boston University shows that benefiting families and children improve their wellbeing as they can afford better and more diversified food, education and health services, sanitation, and ownership of assets. The purpose of the pilot was to generate information on the feasibility, costs and benefits of a social cash transfer scheme and to use the lessons learned to develop the social cash transfer component of a national social protection programme.
Awareness of the rights of children and women was created among influential decision and policy makers through advocacy and partnership with local human rights organizations and the launch of the 'Stop Child Abuse' campaign. UNICEF has been successful in raising funds and leveraging resources for Malawi's children by hosting several high profile donors. A TV gala hosted by the Norwegian National Committee raised $40 million for Malawi and other countries and the BBC's Blue Peter showbiz appeal raised close to $750,000 for Malawi.
A national communication strategy and ten district communication strategies to support Accelerated Child Survival and Development were finalised in 2007. In preparation for the roll out of the strategy, UNICEF collaborated with three mainstream radio stations and Television Malawi to support the dissemination of messages. UNICEF has helped mobilise faith-based organisations to galvanise believers around PMTCT through partnership with the Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association.
UNICEF has advocated for and supported the integration of social sanitation and hygiene promotion in the Child Health Weeks. Communication materials, mass media campaigns, and booklets on social sanitation and hygiene have been adapted for Christian and Moslem users to promote the Child Health and Sanitation Week.
Photo essay: Cash transfers for the ultra poor
Learn more about the plight of ultra poor households in Malawi and what UNICEF is doing about it, depicted through photos.
[View photo essay]
VIDEO: Cash transfer programme helps the poorest families in Malawi survive
7 September 2010 - UNICEF correspondent Kusalo Kubwalo reports on a cash transfer programme reaching out to impoverished families in Malawi.