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Innovations, lessons learned and good practices

Mozambique: The Mozambican Unconditional Cash Transfer Programme, Programa Subsídio de Alimentos (Lessons Learned)

Year: 2007
Major Area : Policy Advocacy and Partnership
Language: English


In collaboration with key bilateral partners, UNICEF supported successful advocacy efforts for increased budgetary allocations to the existing Unconditional Cash Transfer Programme (PSA) which is implemented by the Mozambican Ministry of Women and Social Action (MMAS) with State Budget funding as of 2007.

Technical assistance to the development of the Sector’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF 2008-2010) and high level advocacy efforts, informed by evidence and data, resulted in a 50 per cent increase in budgetary allocations to Social Welfare in 2008 and in the approval of new monthly disbursement rates for PSA. This increase fell short, however, of the 180 per cent increase requested by MMAS in order to meet the social protection targets set out in the Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty II (PARPA II). Technical inputs in terms of the programme’s impact on poverty reduction and analysis of its potential to improve child well being were provided at critical junctures in the national planning cycle. This analysis supported MMAS’ lobbying efforts with the Ministry of Planning and Development (MPD) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and secured a commitment from the government of Mozambique to double the amounts allocated to vulnerable families under this programme.

This process contributed to the expansion of social protection schemes and further resulted in the development of a Joint Memorandum of Understanding involving MMAS, bilateral partners (DFID, Royal Netherlands Embassy) the ILO and UNICEF. The MoU supports the reform of the PSA’s enrolment and delivery procedures as well as its management information system. It clearly outlines the commitment from MMAS and partners to conduct a thorough analysis of the impact of the PSA and to document the expected positive effect of the increased disbursement scale (with a particular focus on its impact on children) and the expanded reach of the programme. The outcome of the analysis will be an important input to the subsequent budgetary discussions with the Ministry of Finance and will contribute to a comprehensive social protection strategy.

Lessons learned

A key lesson to be learned from this advocacy initiative was the importance of building on existing governmental programmes and schemes funded through state resources and focusing on securing a commitment to expand, enhance efficiency and/or effectiveness of the same in order to increase impact while also ensuring sustainability of the social protection interventions. In the specific case of the PSA, on-going technical support will be required to strengthen existing targeting mechanisms and information management systems, and to further analyse and document the impact. There is a firm commitment to the programme and the current delivery and monitoring structures are national in reach. Therefore the potential impact of the increased payment scales together with the expansion of the programme is significant. The PSA disbursement levels are set by a Council of Ministers’ decree, and therefore the increase in allocation to families signals a commitment from the government to the programme, which goes beyond the time-bound commitments made by bilateral partners in the MoU.

Another important lesson of this experience has been a reconfirmation of the importance of building strategic partnerships with government counterparts, bilateral agencies and others when conducting high level advocacy interventions in the area of social protection. UNICEF’s strategic role in co-chairing the PARPA II working group on Social Action, as well as the broader PARPA II Human Capital Pillar, was crucial in raising the profile of social protection in dialogue with government and engaging other important sectors such as health and education in discussions on expansion of social protection coverage. The experience of advocating for increased budgetary allocations highlighted the importance of developing closer links with the MPD and the MoF in the context of the PARPA II. Additional efforts are required to move beyond capacity building of institutions implementing social protection programmes to promote broader discussions with the MPD and the MoF on the potential of social protection to reduce poverty and promote growth.

Presenting timely analysis of the programme’s impact and of beneficiary profiles to MMAS and others at critical moments in the national planning cycle proved to be effective. This analytical work was facilitated by technical support from the UNICEF Regional Office. Broader discussions on childhood poverty and vulnerability with bilateral partners that were held throughout the year as part of the dissemination of the report, Childhood Poverty in Mozambique: A Situation and Trends Analysis, were also instrumental in creating awareness among key partners of the need for expansion of social protection schemes.


Mozambique has an existing portfolio of State-funded social assistance programmes primarily implemented through the social welfare sector, via the Ministry of Women and Social Action (MMAS) and the National Institute of Social Action (INAS). The PSA is the longest standing State assistance scheme, and the only one whose existence and regulations are set out in legislation. Funds for the programme have been allocated exclusively from the State Budget since the programme’s establishment in the 1990s. It is an unconditional cash transfer programme, which was designed to target the elderly, disabled and chronically ill and their dependants.

Information collected from INAS Provincial delegations indicates that a significant proportion of PSA beneficiaries (60 percent) are caring for children. It has the highest coverage among existing schemes; however, its current coverage is still woefully inadequate (107,000 direct beneficiaries, within a national population of just under 20 million of which more than half live below the poverty line in 2007). Furthermore, the absence of periodic increases in the level of monthly disbursements has meant that the current level of benefit (maximum of US$ 6 as of 2007) represents less than 10 per cent of the minimum wage. Yet, despite the current limitations, the PSA has significant potential to reach increasing numbers of highly vulnerable households and children. In the context of the implementation of the PARPA II, UNICEF and partners joined together to support the government (MMAS) to expand the programme both in coverage and in terms of the amounts disbursed.   
Strategy and application

UNICEF focused on three components for its advocacy strategy:

  1. Dissemination through the PARPA Working Groups and key bilateral partners of the recommendations of the report Childhood Poverty in Mozambique: A Situation and Trends Analysis, with a particular focus on the expansion of social protection schemes;
  2. Support to the development of the MMAS Medium Term Expenditure framework (2008-2010), including increased allocation to social protection programmes;
  3. Analysis of the PSA beneficiary profile and modelling of its impact on poverty reduction.

During the development of the PARPA II, UNICEF and partners supported MMAS to successfully advocate for the inclusion of specific indicators and targets related to the expansion of social assistance and for the provision of basic social services to orphaned and vulnerable children. The inclusion of social protection indicators in the PARPA II’s Performance Assessment Framework (PAF) – reviewed  annually by government and partners – was instrumental in creating a space for dialogue with the MPD, MOF and bilateral partners on the expansion of the unconditional cash transfers programme.

Supporting MMAS to secure additional resources for social protection involved providing technical support to cost the expansion of the PSA and to determine the likely impact of the different scenarios under discussion. A key first step was the development of MMAS’ Medium Term Expenditure Framework (2008-2010) with a focus on the additional state budget resources required for the PSA expansion in line with PARPA II targets. Technical support was provided by UNICEF in partnership with the MPD to define key services and financial needs at provincial and district levels. While budget ceilings for the sector increased substantially (50 per cent), additional resources fell far short of the increase requested (180 per cent) by MMAS. The second phase of discussions, which focused on MMAS’ 2008 budget proposal for increased monthly disbursements, faced the perception that this would place an additional unsustainable burden on government’s finances. MMAS was supported to successfully advocate for increased support for the programme by articulating strategies to address the long-term cost implications and sustainability of the programme and ultimately, securing agreement for the revision of current disbursement scales by the Council of Ministers.


UNICEF and partners helped carry out a rapid analysis of PSA beneficiaries in two sample provinces, concluding that if the programme were to expand together with increased payment scales, it would have a significant positive impact on poverty rates of children. Children were found in more than half of all households currently benefiting from the PSA. However, it was found that a majority of dependant children were not benefiting from the amount that should normally be allocated to dependants under the programme, mainly due to insufficient documentation or low levels of awareness of the eligibility criteria. This analysis provided the evidence for INAS and partners to successfully advocate for consolidating the support provided to families currently enrolled in the scheme. The costs and benefits of alternative proposals to scale up the PSA programme were also modelled and analysed, confirming the affordability of the MMAS proposal to increase the benefit and also outlining the likely impact on poverty reduction.

These two elements of analysis were instrumental in enabling MMAS to demonstrate the potential impact of the PSA on children. In addition, in order to address concerns regarding sustainability, DFID made a ten year commitment to provide additional funding for the programme, while the Netherlands made a similar commitment for five years. Through these efforts, new PSA scales were established and set out in the Council of Minister’s decree to take effect in 2008. State funding for PSA (US$ 7.5 million) will be topped up by an additional US$ 3 million annually in external resources. The new amount will result in a 40% increase in the benefit for single beneficiaries, and importantly, the allocations for dependants (the majority being children) will increase by up to 240%, depending on the size of the household.

Next steps

In order to support the consolidation and expansion of the PSA, UNICEF and partners were finalising a Memorandum of Understanding in late 2007 with MMAS for additional technical assistance to support the following activities: (1) a survey of current PSA beneficiaries and dependants under their care to update the programme’s enrolment system; (2) a review of the current PSA information management system at the provincial and district levels and capacity building of INAS outreach staff to improve their ability to provide accurate information to families on eligibility criteria and refer children to civil registration services; and (3) build the evidence for subsequent increases in PSA scales to be primarily financed from state budget resources to ensure the sustainability of the programme beyond the time-frame of bilateral donor engagement.



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