In Zambia, a second chance at life with COVID-19 Emergency Cash Transfers

Cash transfers are giving hope to vulnerable households in Zambia

Precious Nkandu
Man with crutches in mask with children in front home in Zambia
12 July 2021

“The coming of the COVID-19 pandemic made things worse for persons with disabilities like me, but the emergency cash transfer programme has made life easier for us,” says Fredson Nduna, one of the 6,667 beneficiaries of the COVID-19 Emergency Cash Transfer programme in Zambia’s Chingola District.

Fredson’s difficulties started in 2015 when he developed painful ulcers on his leg. In the same year, his brother took him from his village in Luwingu District to Chingola to seek medical attention. The ulcers kept spreading and unfortunately his leg had to be amputated. In the following year, Fredson’s brother then died from a sudden severe illness.

“I was just coming to terms with losing my leg and then shortly after had to deal with the death of my brother. I was new in town and didn’t know how to support my brother’s widow and children. It was heart-breaking. Then, I was enrolled on the Social Cash Transfer programme and started receiving financial support, but the support was not regular,” says Fredson.

“I had to look for other alternatives to make money, so I built a shop to start selling some goods. My business was doing fine but in the early stages of COVID-19, people stopped buying, I suspect out of fear of contracting the virus.”

With the coming of COVID-19, life has become more difficult for persons with disabilities, the elderly, women and child-headed households. For Fredson, the pandemic has heightened the already existing challenges such as mobility, access to health care, information and stigmatization. The COVID-19 emergency cash transfer is designed to bring an extra support during this period.

Man missing one leg, sits on floor in Zambia

“When I heard I was going to receive an amount of K2400, I was so happy. The good thing with this money is that it comes as a lump sum and allows you to plan your expenditure properly,” says Fredson.

Fredson was able to buy a few basic household needs and invested in his home shop business. His dream is to grow his business and live independently from his late brother’s wife and children and instead support them.

Small village shop in Zambia

“I was one of the respected fishermen back in the village, but since I lost my leg, my hopes of going back are shattered. I have started a new life here and the COVID-19 funds have given me a second chance to live.”

The COVID-19 funds are non-conditional support, but beneficiaries are encouraged to use the funds in a good way such as buying nutritious food for their families, soap, hand sanitizer and face masks. Families are also encouraged to invest in livestock or backyard gardens to boost their household nutrition.

“I know this money is temporary but receiving it in two lumpsum instalments makes a big difference. I have hope that if I continue with this business, I will not go out to beg.”

To respond to socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services with technical support from UN agencies (UNICEF, UNDP, ILO, WFP) has been implementing the COVID-19 Emergency Cash Transfer  programme to support over 200,000 households in 25 districts in Zambia.

The COVID-19 ECT is financially supported by the European Union and the governments of Germany (through the KFW development bank), Ireland, the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.