Pathway for the poor


By Emmanuel Muwamba:

GRATEFUL—An SCT beneficiary flaunts cash

Malawi’s population faces widening gaps in equality, increasing social marginalisation with no sustainable livelihood options.

Poverty and vulnerability are widespread. So, many people need social support to help them meet their basic needs. In 2010, the Integrated Household Survey estimated that 50.7 percent of the population lived below the national poverty l i n e of K37,002 (at 2010 prices), down slightly from 52.4 percent in 2005.


This figure would have risen to over 80 percent if the international poverty line of $2 a day was applied. The survey also found that, while the poverty rate had slightly fallen, the proportion of the population classified as ultra-poor had risen by 2.2 percentage points to 24.5 percent between 2005 and 2010.

The Human Development Report of 2016 used 2013/14 data to estimate that 56.1 percent of Malawi’s population was multi-dimensionally poor while an additional 27.2 percent were just above the multi-dimensional poverty threshold.

In response, the government and development partners are providing consumption support through cash transfers to enable households to meet their basic needs, including food, shelter, education and health.


For instance, with support from the World Bank (WB), the government is providing cash transfers under the Masaf 4 project to some beneficiaries.

Comsip Cooperative Union is an implementing agency of the Livelihood and Skills Development component of the project whose objective is to provide support systems for the graduation of beneficiaries of Public Works Programme (PWP) and Social Cash Transfer (SCT) programmes.

Comsip has facilitated the formation of savings and investments groups from beneficiaries of both the PWP across the country and SCT programme in Dedza and Nkhata Bay districts. The SCT programme has scaled up to other nine districts supported by WB through the Masaf 4 SCT program.

The additional nine districts are Karonga, Rumphi, Nkhotakota, Ntchisi, Dowa, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Chiradzulu.

Meanwhile, Comsip is setting some SCT programme beneficiaries through a graduation path with a series of protective and promotional inputs to help them build sustainable livelihoods under the seven-step Graduation Model.

The graduation rollout for SCT beneficiaries in Dedza and Nkhata Bay districts begins with two traditional authorities (T/As) in each district—T/As Kachindamoto and Kaphuka in Dedza District and T/As Kabunduli and Mankhambira in Nkhata Bay District.

As such, Comsip intends to graduate 150 households among the 15,628 beneficiaries who have been mobilised into 185 clusters in the two districts. Comsip will transfer productive assets from the SCT programme to the targeted beneficiary households.

Speaking recently in Dedza and Nkhata Bay during sensitisation meetings with chiefs, police and community development officers, Comsip SCT officer responsible for institution-building, Justin Mbingwa, said the asset transfer will create livelihood pathways for sustainable income generation for households.

“The transferred asset works as a catalyst for beneficiaries to engagement in sustainable income generating activities and financial access to move the household away from consumption and idle labour to more productive self-employment,” Mbingwa said.

He added: “Assets or the acquisition of assets is more than just a means to livelihood as they also give meaning to people’s lives. Vulnerability is closely linked to asset ownership, meaning that the more assets a person has, the less vulnerable they are.”

The assets include livestock, grocery stock, farm inputs and implements, restaurant or tea room facilities, fruit trees and bicycles, depending on the choice of the beneficiary.

Comsip will also provide Nutri-Feed, a specially formulated, concentrated and well-balanced maize and soya blended flour targeting pregnant women, lactating mothers, under-five children and the chronically, Mbingwa said.

The Nutri-Feed will be distributed to 1,200 families in Dedza and Nkhata Bay districts particularly in T/As Kachindamoto and Kaphuka for Dedza and T/As Mankhambira and Kabunduli for Nkhata Bay.

T/A Kachindamoto has welcomed the interventions and assured Comsip that chiefs will play a role in ensuring that the beneficiaries use the items for their intended purposes.

In Nkhata Bay, Group Village Head Kakhongwe of T/A Mankhambira applauded the WB through Comsip for uplifting living standards of rural communities through the social cash transfer and public works programmes.

Dedza District Community Development officer, Maria Gama, said the initiatives will change the lives of many who are in need of capital for small-scale businesses and improve the health of their family members.

“We are glad that this programme is being implemented here in Dedza and we believe it will bring smiles to the beneficiary families. Capital is one of the hindering factors of development and we believe the little assets these families will get will help change their lives,” she said.

Nkhata Bay and Dedza districts started SCT programme using the unified beneficiary registry pilot phase in 2015/2016 with funding from WB.

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