Introduction

The Government recognises and upholds the importance of social protection mechanisms aimed at promoting human development, social equity and human rights. The high levels of extreme poverty and vulnerability with multiple effects of HIV and AIDS, and unemployment provide a strong justification for the need for social protection to households with little or no self-help potential. The extremely poor and incapacitated households are mostly disadvantaged and in need of mechanisms to protect or cushion them against these vices. These households need regular and continuous social assistance to survive and to meet their basic needs. The Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCT) is one such programme administered by the  Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) through the Department  of Social Welfare. The programme falls under the Social Assistance Pillar of the National Social Protection Policy
The Social Cash Transfer Scheme started in 2003 as a pilot project in Kalomo district with support from the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services and German Aid (MCDSS/GTZ) Social Safety Net Project.

The cash transfer scheme aims to assist the most destitute and incapacitated households in society to meet their basic needs, particularly health, education, food and shelter. The Scheme is a response to the HIV and AIDS Pandemic, which had led to a growing number of households with no adult breadwinner and to households headed by older persons, children and chronically ill persons. The scheme is an alternative to the in-kind assistance offered through community structures and tries to respond to the growing number of poor and vulnerable households.

Social Cash Transfers are regular, non-contributory payments of money provided to incapacitated individuals and households. The beneficiaries receive K150 and are paid bimonthly which amounts to K180 for every payment. Persons with disabilities receive double (K300) transfers that other vulnerable persons receive. The scheme is now being implemented in all the 116 Districts across with

Over the past few years, the SCT Programme has grown significantly in size and, out of necessity in terms of its systems as well. The programme is now active nationwide from 53 districts in 2014, to 116 districts in 2021. Currently, the programme is being implemented in all the 116 districts countrywide with a national caseload of 880,539. The number of beneficiaries at the end of 2021 is aimed at reaching 994,000 households.

The current caseload was arrived at following the first phase scale up which increased the number of beneficiary households from 616, 464 in 2020 to 880,539 in the second half of 2021. It is anticipated that by 31st December, 2021, the Ministry would have hit the 994,000 beneficiary households annual target and to achieve the milestone, the Ministry is currently conducting a mop up enumeration exercise in all the districts

SCT Identification/ Selection Criteria

In order for the vulnerable individuals and households to qualify as beneficiaries on the SCT, there is need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Residency test: the household should been resident in the same locality for a continuous period of 6 months or more.
  1. Incapacitation and destitution: the household should meet one of the following socio-economic conditions

            – Female headed households with 3 children or more

            – Child headed households: This is a household that is headed by a child aged 18 years and below

            – Households with person (s) who are chronically ill on palliative: a household with person(s) on palliative care should be certified by a qualified health practitioner from a government health facility and issued with a certification slip.

            – Households with a person (s) with severe disability: a household will qualify when a member(s) have a severe disability which is certified by a health practitioner from a government health facility.

            – Households with an elderly member aged 65 years and above and confirmed by a green National Registration Card.

  1. Welfare Assessment (PMT)

This final assessment potential beneficiaries are subjected to before being included on the social cash transfer programme. At this stage the information on households or individuals characteristics correlated with welfare levels is used in a formal algorithm to proxy household income, welfare or need.