MONROVIA, Liberia, 17 November 2011 - Eleven year old Edward from Bomi County is an exceptional student and dreams of becoming an engineer one day. Edward belongs to one of the families enrolled under the social cash transfer programme that is helping many extremely poor households in Liberia.
The innovative programme received a further impetus recently when the European Union agreed to grant an additional fund of 2.4 million Euros to UNICEF to expand the programme to 5,000 households in the country.
Despite successive years of economic growth, levels of poverty remain extremely high in Liberia. It is estimated that out of the 48% below the extreme poverty line, 50,000 households are extremely disadvantaged, labour-constrained and highly food insecure. The Social Cash Transfer Pilot Scheme was initiated in 2009 by the Government of Liberia to protect these children and families from food insecurity and the general deprivation caused by extreme poverty and household composition. Supported by UNICEF with financial grants from the European Union and the Government of Japan, the scheme was piloted in Bomi County because of its exceptionally high level of food insecurity, as identified in the 2006 Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey.
“Month by month, the social cash transfer programme is making a real and lasting difference in the lives of the most disadvantaged children and families in Bomi County. And we must commend the commitment and hard work of the government of Liberia in leading this initiative,” said Ms. Isabel Crowley, UNICEF Representative. “UNICEF is very grateful to the European Union for this additional grant of 2.4 million Euros which will help us expand this innovative programme to disadvantaged families in other parts of the country.”
The Social Cash Transfer Programme provides regular payments of money to extremely poor and labor constrained households to improve nutrition, and facilitate access to education and improve health – especially for children and women. The programme is administered by the National Social Cash Transfer (SCT) Secretariat under the Ministry of Gender and Development and overseen by the National Social Protection Steering Committee of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs. As of November 2011, a total of 1,900 families are receiving support in Bomi County.
Speaking at the signing ceremony on 17 Nov 2011, H.E. Mr. Attilio Pacifici, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Liberia said, “This programme is extremely important for Liberia, as it is directly helping the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the country. The member states of the European Union decided to continue support with this additional grant of 2.4 million Euros, so that the programme can be expanded to reach a total of 5,000 highly food insecure families in Bomi and three Counties in the South Eastern Region of Liberia.”
Households are selected based on two key criteria: they must be extremely poor and labour-constrained. Moving from village to village, monitors from the SCT Secretariat conduct two rounds of interviews with each household to determine their eligibility. The first list of selected households is then reviewed by town chiefs and the county social protection committees, for enrolment to the programme. A household of one person receives about USD10 per month and a household of four or more persons receives USD25 per month.
“Children are going to school, families are eating regularly; and improving their living quarters – this is the kind of transformation we need. We are very grateful to the European Union, the Government of Japan and UNICEF for supporting the Government of Liberia in truly lifting Liberian families out of poverty,” stated the Minister of Gender and Development, H.E. Varbah Gayflor at the event.
Thanks to the continued support from the European Union and the Government of Japan, the social cash transfer programme will empower thousands of families in Liberia and help many more children like Edward fulfill their dreams of a better and brighter future for themselves and their families.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For additional information, please contact:
Miraj Pradhan, Communication Officer, UNICEF Liberia.
Tel +231 6282074
Kinley Dorji, Reports Officer, UNICEF, Liberia.
Tel: +231 6469356