Child protection

Social protection



Social protection

UNICEF Malawi/2014/Ganesh
© UNICEF Malawi/2014/Ganesh

Social Protection has emerged as an effective strategy to reduce poverty and UNICEF recognizes social protection as a fundamental right for children. In Malawi, social protection is operationalized through the National Social Support Policy and Programme (NSSP) that has the following components: public works, social cash transfers (SCTP), school meals, micro credit and village lending and saving schemes. The SCTP supports the most vulnerable children and their households in covering their basic needs. In June 2016, the SCTP was operational in 18 out of 28 districts, serving more than 170,000 households with regular cash transfers.

Given the positive impact on poverty, school enrolment and retention, food security and assets accumulation for the most vulnerable children and their households, UNICEF will continue to support the Government of Malawi to scale up the SCTP nationwide by expanding it to the remaining 10 districts, aiming to reach over 700,000 children by 2018.

Additionally, a new Cash Plus model (in which referrals and linkage to other social services measures are added to the cash transfer) is being piloted in 3 districts, in order to guarantee that the varied needs of children will be served in addition to consumption needs.

Key result

An integrated child sensitive social protection system targeting the most vulnerable households by December 2018.


More than half of Malawi’s population live below the national poverty line, while 22% are ultra-poor, living under 0.20 USD per day and 10% are ultra-poor and at the same time labour constrained. The country is still constrained by rapid population growth rate estimated at 2.8 per cent, limited institutional implementation capacity, and a narrow resource base. Poverty is widespread and is a major cause of much vulnerability among children and women. 63% of Malawi’s children are deprived of basic needs such as access to adequate nutrition, quality education, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and health. Out of the 63 per cent of children living in deprivation, 94 per cent live in the rural areas.

Poverty affects children disproportionately. In recent years, social protection has emerged as an effective strategy to reduce poverty around the world. Evidence from multiple social protection programmes implemented in Sub-Saharan Africa demonstrate significant impact on poverty reduction and improved human capital development in the areas of health, nutrition, education, food security and livelihood support. UNICEF recognizes social protection as a fundamental right for children and a key policy to support equity and social justice. On its part, the Government of Malawi has prioritized social protection by including it as the second theme in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (2006-2010) and is the third theme of MGDS II (2011-2016).

Strategies and actions

  1. Supporting the expansion/scale up of the Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP) national wide to reach over 700,000 vulnerable children
  2. Support to the development of a new comprehensive and integrated National Social Support Programme (NSSP)
  3. Support to design of social protection programmes that are flexible and can be scaled up to reach additional households when disasters occur
  4. Advocating for increased and adequate allocation in the public budget by government to social protection programmes.





Photo essay: Cash transfers for the ultra poor

Learn more about the plight of ultra poor households in Malawi and what UNICEF is doing about it, depicted through photos.

[View photo essay]

VIDEO: Cash transfer programme helps the poorest families in Malawi survive

7 September 2010 - UNICEF correspondent Kusalo Kubwalo reports on a cash transfer programme reaching out to impoverished families in Malawi.

 VIDEO: [Watch]


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