NAY PYI TAW, 4 February 2020 – The Department of Social Welfare of the Ministry of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement with UNICEF support unveiled key findings of the formative evaluation of the Maternal and Child Cash Transfer (MCCT) programme. The evaluation, carried out in Chin and Rakhine States, analysed the effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and sustainability of the design and implementation of the programme. The MCCT programme transfers regular cash to pregnant women and mothers of children -up two years of age- to enhance their purchasing power to improve their dietary diversity and intake as well as access to healthcare. It now operates in 5 states and regions: Chin, Rakhine, Naga Self-administrated area, Kayin, Kayah.
The participatory and learning-oriented evaluation, which began in early 2019, involved stakeholders at national and sub-national levels and covered all five districts in Rakhine (463 beneficiaries) and four districts in Chin (409 beneficiaries) spanning hard-to-reach areas, conflict-prone zones and camps for internally displace people. The insights of spouses of beneficiaries and other community members were also taken into consideration.
Highlighting the programme’s relevance to address malnutrition and infant mortality, the evaluation identified the following four key recommendations that were validated by various partners:
- The programme is fiscally sustainable and embedded in existing Government structure. However, integration and coordination amongst different departments and ministries needs to be strengthened to ensure cross-learning between implementing states and regions.
- Service delivery of the programme is efficient, despite it being largely manual. As the programme expands, however, investment should be made into IT-based options to replace paper-based systems, to better facilitate the management of larger beneficiary databases, process timely payments and support monitoring and evaluation.
- Since the broader aim of the programme is to improve nutritional status of children and mothers, the social and behavioural change communications (SBCC) package should be strengthened to ensure better understanding by the various communities, including male community members in a culturally and ethnically diverse context.
- Strengthening institutional capacities both at national and sub-national levels through increased funding and personnel is crucial for the scale up of the programme to be effective.
“The findings of this formative evaluation have already informed the development of a concrete action plan by the Department of Social Welfare; and some of the recommendations have already been set in motion – such as the development of IT-based options to replace paper-based systems,” said U Win Myat Aye, Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.
The MCCT programme benefitted over 200,000 in 2019 and it will expand to the two most populous areas of the country: Ayeyarwady Region and Shan State in 2020. Although Chin and Rakhine States remain the poorest states in terms of population percentage, the largest numbers of poor households are found in Ayeyawaddy and Sagaing Regions and Shan State. Poor households have almost two times more children than non-poor households, resulting in a higher child dependency ratio: 67.6 per cent for poor households compared with 46.6 per cent for non-poor households. Therefore, the findings of the evaluation are crucial to ensure a successful scale up of the programme according to the Costed Social Protection Sector Plan.
“Recognizing the programme’s clear potential to transform the lives of children, especially in fuelling the cognitive development of a child during the first 1,000 days, the evaluation has provided very important lessons which will help in evidence based and efficient expansion of the MCCT to give all children in Myanmar the best start in life,” said Rebecca Pankhurst, Chief of Field Services of UNICEF Myanmar.
 Sittwe, Kyaykphyu, Maungdaw, Mrauk-U, Thandwe
 Falam, Haka, Matupi, Mindat
UNICEF in Myanmar
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