The government of Ireland has given Malawi a €20.5 million (approximately K21.8 billion) grant for social protection programmes to be implemented in Ntcheu and Balaka districts for the next four years.
Speaking during the signing of the financing agreement in Lilongwe Thursday, Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe said the support is crucial in propping up government’s responsibility of protecting vulnerable populations against adverse socio-economic conditions by meeting their everyday needs.
He added that social protection through Social Cash Transfer Programs (SCTP)in particular is a powerful tool in fighting poverty, hence government’s commitment to enhancing the purchasing power among the ultra-poor.
“The money transferred through SCTP will help to build the local economy: households will spend their money in local markets, bringing an added boost to local traders; some beneficiaries will invest in small productive activities such as petty trading, bringing further benefits to the local economy. At the end of the day everybody in the community benefits, directly or indirectly,” Gwengwe said.
He then disclosed that government has embarked on implementing an e-payment system in all the councils to strengthen social accountability of SCTP and other social protection programmes.
“A toll-free line 531 which is fully resourced is now operational. Community-level committees have also been established to receive and address complaints at the local level,” he added.
Irish ambassador to Malawi Seamus O’Grady said his government has increased funding for the programme from K13 billion in the last nine years to K21.8 billion following the successes that have been registered so far.
“This programme has shown to be having meaningful impact on the lives of people who are poor. And we will continue to work with the government of Malawi in growing the economy, because we know there are many potential areas of using the STCP for money circulation and improving livelihoods,” he said.
The increased grant, according to Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Rose Makhumula, will raise the number of beneficiary households from 8,300 to 24,500.
Statistics show that over nine million Malawians live below the poverty line.