Sustaining the transformation made through social cash transfers
Cash transfers empower families
Toliya Chiwindo, 48, is a single mother with six children. She lives in Makwangwala area in Ntcheu district.
In 2016, Toliya’s husband, with whom she had been married for 25 years, left her. He left her to fend for their six children alone. Devastated by the divorce and all the financial challenges that her new status presented, she relocated from Ntcheu Township to her village at Makwangwala.
“It was very painful to go to the village with all the children and with no income and financial capacity to take care of them,” she explained.
Life at the village was so tough that two of her children dropped out of school and married early.
Two years later, she was enrolled in the social cash transfer programme, locally known as “Mtukula Pakhomo”.
“I invested part of my first cash transfer in Tikondane Savings and Loans Group (VSL) and used the rest to buy a 5-litre bucket of maize,” she says.
Belonging to Tikondane VSL has allowed Toliya to acquire small loans that she has used to start a small business selling Zitenje (African wrappers). She sells the wrappers at a local market where most of her customers are fellow VSL members and the community at large.
“I have managed to do several things with the cash transfers. I have plastered the inside walls of my house, and fixed its floor,” she says, adding she has also invested some of the proceeds from the Zitenje business in farming.
“The profits allow me to hire additional labour to support me on my farming,” she says.
The additional labour and the use of manure have allowed Toliya to have enough to eat and save for a rainy day. This year she harvested 42 bags of maize, 24 bags of groundnuts and six bags of cowpeas.
To supplement her family’s diet, Toliya has planted several fruit trees at her house. She plans to sell any surplus fruits once the trees start bearing fruits.
Apart from growing crops, she also rears pigs, chickens, and doves, from which she sells and collects manure for her crops.
“I sold three pigs for MK245,000 (about US$144) and purchased iron sheets to extend my house. I also constructed a fence around my house, and installed a water tap,” she says. She installed the tap water to supplement the well that she mostly uses for her home gardening.
Toliya juggles all this while ensuring her three children go to school to learn and complete their education. The three, Chifuniro, Beatrice and Priscilla, are currently in Standards 7 and 8 of primary school, and Form 2 of secondary school, respectively.
Ntcheu District Social Welfare Officer Catherine Ngoleka says: “Toliya Chiwindo is a role model who has demonstrated the value of not using the cash transfers for consumption alone, but also for investment to support children’s education and build household resilience”.
Ngoleka says the Social Cash Transfer Programme secretariat encourages household investments to ensure beneficiaries graduate from the programme later on.
Ntcheu district has 14,338 social cash transfer beneficiaries who have been in the programme for over four years. A retargeting and recertification process is expected to commence in 2024 and will create an opportunity for over 70 per cent of new entrants into the programme.
“Toliya’s accomplishments are evidence that cash transfers transform lives. With her monthly entitlement and reinvestments, she is supporting her children’s education, has renovated her house and can proceed to support herself independently,” said UNICEF Malawi social policy officer Maureen Malola.
UNICEF Malawi is promoting the financial inclusion of vulnerable households through their participation in complementary economic activities such as savings and loans groups.
Toliya’s household is part of more than 300,000 beneficiary households who are benefitting from the Social Cash Transfer Programme funded by the Government of Ireland, the World Bank, the European Union (EU), Germany’s KfW, and the Government of Malawi.
UNICEF provides technical support to the Government of Malawi in the design and implementation of the programme and the operationalization of linkages to social and economic activities to amplify the impacts of the programme.