Government and with support from other stakeholders have been implementing several social assistance interventions targeting specific categories of beneficiaries as highlighted in the National Social Protection Policy (NSPP). These have taken the form of non-contributory transfers either in cash or in-kind, fee waivers, and subsidies with a view of reducing poverty. These interventions specifically target those who lack the inherent capacity to work, rather than those who are failing to meet their needs through shortcomings in various aspects of their circumstances such as limited access to markets, insufficient capital or land. This form of assistance provides supplementary support to help such households have more secure access to food and other basic needs, including through investments in human capital. Programmes of this nature include the Public Welfare Assistance Scheme (PWAS), Social Cash Transfer Scheme (SCT), nutrition and supplementary feeding interventions such as the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, bursaries and scholarships, and the resettlement and rehabilitation of people with disabilities (PWDs) and Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), (NSPP, 2014).

Therefore, the Public Welfare Assistance Scheme (PWAS) is one of Government’s Social Assistance Programmes aimed at alleviating the suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the Zambian society to address challenges of vulnerabilities. The services under the PWAS is mostly for social support needs such as repatriation of stranded clients, secondary education requirements, purchase of baby formula for babies left without care, and other emergency referral cases from institutions such as the Police VSU. The social support under this programme does not cater for large scale emergency needs that are covered under the Office of the Vice President, which includes major disaster victim support.

Under the PWAS assistance given is in form of educational support, health care support, social support and repatriation of stranded persons. The identification process is done by the community. The target groups fall in the following categories:-

  • Aged Persons
  • Disabled
  • Chronically ill
  • Single Headed Households
  • Orphans and neglected children
  • minor disaster victims

PWAS aims at providing support to the most vulnerable and destitute households and individuals in times of acute stress in order to mitigate suffering as well as contribute to reduction in poverty.