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Malawi, 6 March 2017: Social cash transfer opens opportunities

© UNICEF Malawi/2017
Daniel's family in front of their grass thatched shelter in Dedza.

Investing in farming through the Social Cash Transfer Programme

DEDZA, Malawi – Signs of poverty are very visible in Daniel Kagwanji’s household. Daniel and his wife sleep in a make-shift, grass-thatched shelter. His children sleep in a small house that he built some years ago. Food insecurity is also visible in the house and it was therefore no surprise that our conversation was interrupted many times because he had to keep reminding one of his nine children to chase the goats away from the only maize that they were drying.

“The whole family depends on me to do the farming, we have land but we didn’t harvest much as we lack farm inputs as well as the labour to do the tilling of the land. The dry spell that hit our area also compounded our problem” he says. Luckily in late 2015, Daniel Kagwanji’s family of Kabulika Village in Dedza was enrolled in the Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP).

Little did he know that being enrolled in the SCTP would open an opportunity for him to be able to join a cooperative that will give him hope of a better future as a farmer. “We were enrolled in the Social Cash Transfer Programme in late 2015 but only started receiving the money in 2016,” says Daniel as his wife Annie, 37, looks on.

Linkage to other service providers

During the follow up visits to Daniel’s house, the extension workers also noted the levels of poverty at his house and referred the family to join a farming cooperative which allocates land to poor households as well as supports them with start-up seed. To Daniel’s surprise, the land they were allocated was very close to a river which provided the opportunity for all year farming.

For Daniel, this was an opening to a new phase of life. “We did not receive our money for about four months, the time we received our monthly allocation of K8800 (USD 12) we allocated some money which we have used to buy food, education supplies for our children, but also used part of it to pay the cooperative which hired a tractor to till the land for all the farmers,” he says with hope.

Annie thinks having their land near a river is an opportunity for improved nutrition for her children. “Finding food for the children has not been easy. We have planned to plant vegetables and maize throughout the year, we hope we can use some and sell the rest,” she says.

Although Daniel dropped out of Chipoka Secondary School in form one due to lack of school fees, his love for education could not be hidden. As we talked, one by one his school going children came to show him the day’s work and Daniel nodded his head with satisfaction.

Asked why each of the children have to show him their work he says, “I dropped out of school in form one and wish I had an opportunity to continue but it didn’t work. Mtukula Pakhomo (local name for Social Cash Transfer) gives us money for school going children which we use for buying their school supplies, so they have no excuse for not doing well in school.” Social Cash Transfer (SCT) Committee Member for the Ndindi Cluster, Fostino Thole says linking SCT beneficiaries to other programmes has facilitated access to other services in health, education and nutrition.

“The linkages programme has also brought in improved coordination among various service providers as we are able to talk to each other in support of the people we are serving,” says Fostino.

Through the SCT linkages and referrals programme, Daniels’ family has also been referred to a health centre for him to collect mosquito nets for his nine children and a grandchild. Although he had not yet collected the nets as they were out of stock, Daniel was thankful that the social workers were not only supporting them with finances but also linking them to other service providers.

“Previously being in the Social Cash Transfer Programme meant we would not be considered for other services like the membership to the cooperative because people think that we are better off. The new system of linking us with other service providers means one day I will be able to provide for my family without depending on the government.”

As part of the SCTP, UNICEF has provided support to generate evidence and strengthen national and district skills and infrastructure. This support has improved the lives of children by linking the cash transfer with other services through referral, coordination and leveraging resources.

The programme currently reaches 170,000 households in 18 districts and is financed by various donors including the Government of Germany, EU, World Bank, Irish Aid and the Government of Malawi. The Government of the Netherlands is funding the design of a linkage and referral system of the of the social cash transfer programme.

Daniel’s hope like the rest of the farmers in Malawi is that the money from the social cash transfer invested in the garden bears fruit.



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