Malawi government asked to hike public works wages
Beneficiaries of the Public Works and Social Cash Transfer programmes in Rumphi and Nkhata Bay have called for an upward adjustment of the wages due to continuous loss in value of the kwacha.
Whilst admitting that the initiatives have helped in breaking the poverty cycle in their communities, people in the two districts say the weak local currency is defeating the purpose of the programme due to the rising cost of living.
“We understand that such programmes are to be a source of income to vulnerable households so that they are able to meet some basic necessities. Unfortunately the money is proving inadequate due to soaring prices of commodities on the market,” said Group Village Headman Khangawa of Rumphi.
Khangawa was speaking to a group of touring journalists on Thursday.
Khangawa said 65 people are part of the road’s programme in his area and they receive K7, 200 after every 12 days. Records show that 8,941 people are to benefit from the whole district.
As part of the initiative, communities in Rumphi have also embarked on a catchment conservation to replace the forest cover.
Authorities say 38 percent of it is lost each year to tobacco farming, timber sawing and charcoal burning, among others.
District Forest Officer Rodgers Namiwa said due to the development the rainfall pattern in the district has drastically shifted which has affected tobacco and maize farming.
“We have managed to grow about half an acre with tree seedlings and we are training communities on how best they can take care of them to ensure high survival rate. In the long term, this stands to reverse the situation and ease the effects of environmental degradation,” he said.
The communities also asked the government to consider increasing the number of beneficiaries of the Social Cash Transfer Programme which targets the poor and ultra-poor individuals.
Head of Development Communications at Local Development Fund (LDF) Booker Matemvu said the concerns would be addressed once the compilation of the Unified Beneficiary Register is completed in Nkhata Bay and Dedza districts.
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