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MPs want cash support in cities

Lawmakers on Tuesday demanded that the government should extend the Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP) to people in urban and peri-urban areas when the programme reaches all districts.

The programme is on full scale in 18 out of 28 districts, reaching about 756,416 individuals.

Minister of Gender Children, Disability, and Social Welfare, Jean Kalilani, told Parliament that the programme would now be implemented in all districts and payment of funds for the remaining 10 districts would commence in March 2018.

“When all districts are covered, the programme is expected to benefit 319,000 households with 1.5 million individual members,” she said

But Member of Parliament for Blantyre City Central, Themba Mkandawire, expressed concern over why the ministry is not targeting urban areas as well, arguing that the areas have a high population that can be included in the category of the ultra-poor

“In the cities, we have urban poverty where people are suffering. There are ultra-poor people that are not taken care of,” he said

Beneficiaries of the programme receive an average of K7,000 monthly transfers per household.

Mzuzu City lawmaker, Leonard Njikho, also said the level of poverty in the cities is extreme as compared to rural areas since city residents have to cough money to access every basic need.

“In the cities, we are not receiving these cash transfers. But we have got ultra-poor people, the elderly, disabled and people that cannot work because what we see in the cities are Malawi Social Action Fund projects that require energetic people. Why is it that this particular programme is not targeting those in the cities? In these cities, we have rural areas as well,” he said

In her response, Kalilani said plans are in the pipeline to roll out the programme in the remaining districts, adding that cities will also benefit.

“We do have plans but, as soon as we get the remaining districts up and running next month, we are going to conquer the cities and the peri-urban,” she said.

SCTP programme was introduced in 2006 to contribute to poverty reduction efforts in the country.

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