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Sunday, 5 April 2015

Social Cash Transfer (Progress Update)

Editor's note: The following is statement from the Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Emerine Kabanshi MP on the scaling up of the social cash transfer programme. We have made minor edits to ease reading.
I would like to thank you for according me this opportunity to give a ministerial statement on the progress made in the scaling up the Social Cash Transfer Programme. Allow me to provide some general information to the House about the Social Cash Transfer Programme in Zambia before I give an account of our initiative to scale it up.

The Government of the Republic of Zambia has since 2003 been implementing the Social Cash Transfer Programme through the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health. The programme has made a positive impact on the lives of beneficiaries receiving the cash transfers on a bi-monthly basis.

The Social Cash Transfer Programme started as a pilot in Kalomo District, through support from the German Government and has been scaled up to other districts in a phased manner. Until 2013, it was implemented in nineteen re-aligned districts supporting 62,240 households of which, 23,117 are male and 39,123 are female-headed households.

The objective of the Social Cash Transfer Programme is to reduce extreme poverty and its inter-generational transfer. The aim of the programme is to realise an improved wellbeing in the households covered by it.

The programme also has the following specific objectives
(i) income : To supplement and not to replace household income
(ii) education : To increase the number of children attending primary school education
(iii) health : To reduce the rate of mortality and morbidity among children under-five years old
(iv) food security : To increase the number of households having a second meal per day
(v) livelihoods : To increase the number of households owning assets such as livestock; and
(vi) lesson learning : To provide lessons around identifying what works for Zambia in the implementation process.


At the end of 2013, the Government made a bold decision to increase the funding to the programme by more than 700 per cent thus, from K17.5 million to K150 million for 2014. With this increment in funding, the ministry and its co-operating partners embarked on a rapid scale-up and in 2014, added thirty-one new districts bringing the total number of districts implementing the programme to fifty with 145,698 beneficiary households comprising 56,527 male and 89,171 female-headed households.


In order to be eligible for the Social Cash Transfer Programme, households must meet three criteria and these are residency, dependency and welfare level.

(a) Residency - in order to be eligible for the programme, households must have been living in the catchment area for, at least, six months. This criterion is first verified by the Community Welfare Assistance Committees (CWACs), Area Coordinating Committees (ACCs) and village headmen on the identification form, and secondly, by the management information system based on the data collected through the application form.

(b) Dependency - a household is eligible if all its members are unfit for work. This is a household with members that are either chronically ill, people below nineteen years old, elderly persons above sixty-four years old and those that are disabled and vulnerable. We are also targeting households with a high dependency ratio (equal or greater than three). This means that there are three or more people in the household being looked after by one person.

(c) Welfare - a household is eligible if its estimated welfare, calculated by the management information system based on a wealth index (these are designated variables) is below a pre-established threshold. Households with estimated welfare levels above the cut-off point are considered better-off and are not eligible for the Social Cash Transfer Programme, unless indicated otherwise in the community validation process. The cut-off point is updated before every targeting phase, based on the estimations conducted in line with the living conditions and monitoring survey and other data sets as well as the budget and caseload projections.


Let me now talk about some of the areas where impacts have been made and measured since the programme was launched. The Social Cash Transfer Programme increases food security. The number of households eating more than one meal a day increased by 19 per cent and that of the not severely food insecure ones increased by 18 per cent.

The programme also reduces poverty. Extreme poverty among the recipient households reduced by 5.4 per cent and there was also a 10.5 per cent reduction in the number of households having outstanding loans. This means that the programme, therefore, helped households pay-off their debts.

The Social Cash Transfer Programme increases productivity and asset ownership. Further, it contributes to productivity and economic growth among the beneficiaries. There was an increase in the size of land cultivated, overall value of harvest and ownership of livestock amongst the beneficiaries.

The Social Cash Transfer Programme also contributes to education. Beneficiary households are able to send more children to school with a 10 per cent increase in the number of children attending primary school.


The programme is funded by both the Government and its co-operating partners. The funds are categorised into two as direct transfers to the beneficiaries and the other goes towards the administration, apportioned as 80 and 20 per cent, respectively. In 2015, the total budget allocated to the programme is K180 million, out of which of K150 million is from the Government and K30 million is from its co-operating partners.


The ministry is aware that the Social Cash Transfer Programme operates in most hard to reach parts of the country. In this regard, my ministry recently procured and distributed forty-six vehicles for the programme at a total cost of K9,625,644. The vehicles procured were Land Cruisers for the district centres and Ford Rangers for provincial centres. These vehicles are for monitoring the implementation of the programme.


In order to reduce fiduciary risk associated with bulk low value cash payments, my ministry is in the process of procuring a payment service provider. In this regard, the ministry is holding meetings with the banking and financial sector on how they can provide this service to our beneficiaries.


The ministry initially planned to reach full country coverage by 2016 in a phased manner by rolling out to those districts that are characterised with high levels of poverty and inequality in 2015. The ministry intends to bring on board eligible beneficiaries who could have been left out in the initial enumeration as well as replace those who could have died or relocated to other districts.

With these measures, [Government] intends to reach the projected 189,000 beneficiary households from the recent 145,698 households which are on the programme. As at 1st March, 2015, the bi-monthly payments which had been processed, totaled K25,442,556.

In conclusion, I wish to urge hon. Members of Parliament where the programme is currently being implemented and rolled out to support the programme and help the general public understand the eligibility criteria of this very important development initiative in their respective constituencies.

Chola Mukanga
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2015

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible for your to provide further details in terms of the names of the districts where social cash transfer programme is being implemented? I interest is to have a clear understanding as regards the coverage and possibly the numbers of beneficiaries in each of the targeted districts. Thanks for a well written article.


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