The face of social security in Mozambique
MAPUTO, Mozambique, 5 September 2011 – One face of the Government of Mozambique’s food subsidy program (PSA) is a household headed by an elderly person who is in charge of four or five orphans. The average income of that households is USD 11, but only if the elderly person or grandparent has asked for the dependency allowance within the PSA grant. In reality, however, most elderly are not aware of this, so the more commonly received food subsidy level is around MT 130 per month.
This amount is not enough to allow them to meet the basic needs of the household beneficiaries, the children and themselves, and does not provide the nation with a meaningful social protection instrument that can act as an investment into economic growth and human development.
Households that fall under the PSA program are still hungry, and often, the kids of such are walking in rags and go hungry for long periods of time. The age gap between the two generations is big and compounds the problems and the circle of poverty. An estimated 1.8 million children are in extended family care, mostly cared for by grandparents who have no other income than the PSA. For this reason, the instruments for social protection need to be improved, frankly, to keep grandparents alive longer and to help them in their efforts to take care of some of the world's most forgotten children.
By introducing and developing social protection programs, the country is on the right path, but still a long way away from investing sufficiently in a solid community safety net program, which would allow program beneficiaries to invest in their own economic and productive capacity, thereby multiplying their social grant, in order to ultimately move out of poverty and permanently escape the circle of poverty.
The urgency of the orphan crisis in Mozambique is acute, with more than a million children growing up alone or without the care of a parent. There is an immediate need to be addressed through meaningful social protection instruments. The challenges that exist must be addressed at all levels, from the central level to the community level. The discussion is not only a debate around providing fiscal space for social protection, but building a long-term protective environment for the beneficiaries that will enable them to escape the poverty trap.
For more information, please contact:
Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: email@example.com