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Social cash transfer: Setrida Eliya single grandmother caring for four orphans

© UNICEF/Gaelle Sevenier/2007
Setrida and her grandchildren.

Head of household: Setrida Eliya single grandmother caring for four orphans

Social cash transfer assistance: 2,200 kwacha per month ($16)

Lilongwe, December 2007 - Gaelle Sevenier. Setrida Eliya does not know how old she is. She cannot read or write. She uses a thumb print as a signature. The old woman has suffered a lot throughout her long life. She witnessed the death of four of her ten children, most of them due to AIDS. The grandmother is now taking care of four of her orphaned grandchildren.

In Malawian society, family ties are very strong. Abandoning orphaned children to a fate outside the family is simply not an option, regardless of the circumstances of the surviving relatives. After their parents died of AIDS in 1995 and 2003, Setrida had no other option but to open her house to her four grandchildren.

And so Blessings – age 10, Noel – age 13, Ellen – age 14, and Johan – age 16 came to share a little room with the old woman. Setrida has struggled for years to provide them with enough food and clothing. She could not afford the additional cost of school fees.

Setrida is now too old to work her farm alone. Her little garden needs an irrigation system to grow the maize necessary to feed the children.

“We see others around us who need the same cash assistance. I hope they will also be assisted.”

In June 2006, Setrida’s household started to benefit from the social cash transfer scheme in Mchinji district. With the money she received every month, the grandmother was able to buy fertilizer, which helped to increase her harvest over that of previous years.

The family now has surplus maize from the garden. By selling a portion, Setrida earns enough money to buy other food products thus helping to diversify their diet. With the income earned, the grandma can also buy school uniforms for the orphaned children.

The household has enjoyed an impressive transformation since first starting on the scheme. Food is no longer an issue. “We now eat meat almost twice a month,” says the grandmother.

Slowly but steadily, the cash transfer scheme lifts households out of ultra poverty.

The family was recently able to buy livestock, and they now own a goat and two pigs. Building assets is just one of the ways in which the scheme impacts the lives of beneficiary families. Not only has Setrida’s life improved, but her grandchildren have more security as well.

“I am so happy that I now have the pigs. It is a real investment. If I die, selling the pigs can help my grandchildren to survive.”

Thanks to the school bonus provided by the scheme, all four children now attend school. “It is very important for me that the children receive an education,” says the grandmother, herself illiterate. “If they are educated, they will get a job. It is for the benefit of their future.”





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The direct impact of Social Cash Transfer on the lives of ultra poor families in Malawi


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