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Expert questions Malawi’s humanitarian response

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A member of European Commission’s Advisory Service in Social Transfers has said Malawi should revisit humanitarian response programmes it has been implementing.

Nicholas Freeland was speaking in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday in a debate on Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme.

“It is extremely valuable to try to calculate the amount of money that has gone to the so-called emergency response and then discuss how that money can be channelled to building resilience and improving social protection systems,” Freeland said.

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Freeland said it has been observed that the majority of people who receive humanitarian assistance are those living in chronic poverty.

“It is not an emergency that requires any assistance. It’s simply a season of need. I think there is a real issue; trying to work out on how we can use the money that is currently used in humanitarian response better,” he said.

Last year, government unveiled a food insecurity response plan in which it was seeking $395 million to address food needs of 6.5 million people.

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The debate was taking place in the context of the design of a new Malawi National Social Support Programme which is expected to feed into the programming of a new €50 million social policy and resilience programme managed by the European Union (EU) Delegation to Malawi.

Panellists from both Brussels and EU offices in Lilongwe made it clear social cash transfers may offer opportunities to build resilience while reducing inequalities in Malawi.

Director of Social Protection in Ministry of Finance Harry Mwamlima said, from the previous social cash transfer programme, a lot of lessons have been drawn to improve future programmes and work towards developing programmes that incorporate resilient aspects

EU Ambassador to Malawi Marchel Germann said the EU wants to increase the number of beneficiaries in the social cash transfer programme.

He said €50 million has been set aside for the next phase of the project, compared to the €35 million which was allocated in Phase I.

“We are now discussing Phase II. We are going to have a national coverage. We are providing €50 million for a period of four years. We believe that, through this programme, we will be assisting many more vulnerable people,” Germann said.

The discussion, moderated by Jürgen Hohmann, Social Protection Expert at the European Commission, had panellists such as Nations Msowoya, the National Authorising Officer in the Ministry of Finance, and Patience Masi, Project Manager at KfW.

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