Child protection

Social protection



Social protection

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

Social Protection or the National Social Support Programme, has emerged as an effective strategy to reduce poverty and UNICEF recognizes social protection as a fundamental right for children. The National Social Support Programme has the following components: public works, social cash transfers, school meals, micro credit and village lending and saving schemes. Currently the program has been implemented in 7 districts, serving 26,000 ultra-poor households containing 68,425 children of whom 53,615 are orphans. Children make up approximately 65% of the beneficiaries. Given the impact on children, UNICEF will continue to support the Government to scale up the program nation-wide by expanding it to 6 additional districts every year, reaching 700,000 children by 2016.

Additionally, a new Cash Plus model (in which referrals and child protection measures are added to the cash transfer) will be tried out in 3 districts, in order to guarantee that the varied need of children will be served in addition to consumption needs.

Key result

Evidence informed, equity focused and child sensitive operational guidelines, coordination mechanisms, plans and budgets of the National Social Support Programme in place to support implementation of interventions that target the most vulnerable children by 2016.


Malawi has made encouraging progress in economic development and food security with an annual GDP growth of 7.5 per cent and bumper harvests of maize for six successive years since 2006, earning it the reputation of a food secure nation. However, 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. According to the 2009 Welfare Monitoring Survey, 39 per cent of Malawian households live on less than one dollar per day. Ultra poverty is defined as the inability to meet minimum daily consumption needs, this makes up 15 per cent of the population. Poverty affects children disproportionately, out of 6.8 million children in the country. 4 million are living in poverty, 1.2 million live in the bottom quintile. Global crises such as the HIV and AIDS epidemic, rising fuel and food prices and the world financial crisis of 2008-09 typically have the most severe impact on the poor. 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 it features in the third theme of the draft MGDS II (2011-2016).

Strategies and actions

  1. Advocating for and supporting the government to adopt a social policy and social protection programme for the poorest of the poor;
  2. Reviewing national policies and legislation to ensure they benefit the poor;
  3. Supporting the decentralisation process to ensure that children are prominent in district plans;
  4. Advocating for children to be at the centre of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy.





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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