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Mozambique, 2 May 2016: Southern african neighbours share lessons to inform a cash grant for young children

By Alejandro Grinspun and Mayke Huijbregts

© UNICEF Mozambique

PRETORIA, South Africa, 2 May 2016 – South Africa welcomed a high-level delegation from Mozambique, which travelled recently to its neighbouring country to meet with government counterparts and learn from their experience in implementing cash grants targeting poor children. Facilitated by the UNICEF offices in Maputo and Pretoria, the visit, which took place on 10-14 April, was in response to a request from the Government of Mozambique to be exposed to practical examples from within the region.

Underscoring the importance that the Government of Mozambique attached to this learning experience, their delegation was led by the Vice-Minister of Gender, Children and Social Action, Dr. Lucas Mangrasse, and comprised senior officials from a cross-section of Ministries: Gender, Children and Social Action (MGCAS), Economy and Finance (MEF), Health (MISAU), Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), as well as the National Institute of Social Action (INAS).

The official visit began with a courtesy call to South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Social Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu. After welcoming the Delegation and emphasising the excellent relations that South Africa and Mozambique have traditionally had, Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu submitted to her counterpart the proposal to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate future cooperation on social development issues between the two countries. Two full-day sessions with senior officials from the National Department of Social Development, the National Treasury and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) followed the initial courtesy meeting, along with a day-long visit to a Regional/Local SASSA office (Midrand), a pay point (Mamelodi) and a service center (Tembisa). During the field trip, the Mozambican delegation had close interaction with SASSA field staff and grant beneficiaries, which afforded them the chance to see first-hand what services are provided to South Africa’s poor and how child grants are disbursed.

During the four days spent in South Africa, the Mozambican Delegation was exposed to and had the opportunity to learn about the policy, legislative and institutional framework governing South Africa’s social development strategy and grant system; the roles of DSD and SASSA; the evolution, policy choices, design features and impacts of the child grants; their implementation modalities, payment mechanisms, data and information management, and monitoring and evaluation systems; planning, budgeting and affordability issues; branding, targeting and outreach strategies; linkages with other child-focused interventions; and the Government’s current plans and future policy directions.

Just last February, Mozambique’s Council of Ministers approved the new National Strategy for Basic Social Security, which spans from 2016 to 2024. One pillar of the newly adopted Strategy is the implementation of an unconditional cash grant for children from birth up to two years of age. Its chief aim will be to help reduce chronic malnutrition and improve access to health and social services for children from poor and vulnerable families. The main expectation of this visit was to draw practical lessons from South Africa’s decades-long experience with social assistance programmes, to help inform the design and implementation of Mozambique’s child grant.

At present, South Africa implements six social grants, reaching one-third of households. The Child Support Grant (CSG) is the largest, with 12 million children (two out of every three in the country) receiving monthly payments; 98 per cent of these payments go to female caregivers, and the bulk is spent on food, clothing, medicines, transport and other necessities. Following the passing of the Social Assistance Act 2004, there is a single agency charged with managing the grant system, which is entirely financed from tax revenues and takes up about 3 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. With an annual budget of Rand 7.2 billion and over 10,000 staff, SASSA is responsible for paying out the grants to over 16 million poor South Africans every month. To do this, it counts on its wide presence across the country, comprising of 9 Regional, 44 District and 366 local offices, 902 service points and nearly 10,000 pay-points.

This is an investment that it takes time to build. But as a senior official from the National Treasury remarked, “Political will is a key factor in increasing investment in social assistance. Creation of fiscal space is more the product of policy decisions than a particularly strong fiscal position.” Such will is now present in Mozambique, as evidenced by the recent decision of its Council of Ministers to adopt the National Social Security Strategy. The time is ripe for the country to embark on the policy and institutional reforms, which will enable it to put in place an intervention that has proven to yield highly positive results for children.

The visiting dignitaries left South Africa inspired by its track record with child grants, especially the CSG. In the words of members of the Mozambican delegation, the visit was an “eye opener”– and will help them set a course that will make their learning curve less steep, as they seek to adapt the lessons from their neighbour to the specific conditions prevailing in their country. As Vice-Minister Lucas Mangrasse of Gender, Children and Social Action put it on the last day, “We believe that social protection is closely linked to the development of the people (...) and we are very committed to continue to do this important work.”

For more information, please contact:

Claudio Fauvrelle
Tel +258 21 481 100



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