The poverty levels in rural areas in Zambia are still high approximately around 64 % respectively (National Budget, 2021). Research has also shown that human capital accumulation is lower than in urban areas. As a result, women and adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable. The Government of the Republic of Zambia, thus embarked on Human Capital Development Projects to alleviate and eradicate extreme poverty and create more inclusive societies. One such project is the Girls’ Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods (GEWEL), a flagship social protection project of the Government of the Republic of Zambia. GEWEL promotes adolescent girls’ access to secondary education and supports women’s empowerment and livelihoods initiatives in Zambia. This World Bank (IDA)-funded project was approved in 2015 and became effective in 2016 and is implemented by the Gender Division, Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, and Ministry of Education

The Supporting Women Livelihoods is one of the components of the GEWEL project. GEWEL has three main components: Supporting Women’s Livelihoods (SWL), Keeping Girls in School (KGS), and Institutional Strengthening and Systems Building (ISSB). SWL is being implemented by the Department of Community Development (DCD) in the MCDSS at national, provincial, district and community levels.

The SWL aims at increasing access to livelihood support for women in extremely poor households in selected districts.

The SWL initiative provides extremely poor women aged between 19 to 64 years with opportunities to increase the productivity of their livelihoods, and their economic empowerment, through training, mentoring, peer support, productivity grants and help with setting up savings clubs. The comprehensive package of benefits includes:

    1. Savings groups: Support and strengthen beneficiary led saving initiatives;
    2. Training: A 21 days training covering Life skills, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Business skills through practical, relatable examples catering to low literacy learners. The training is delivered by Community- Based Volunteers (CBVs);
    3. Productivity grant: Digital grant payments equivalent to $225, delivered through a government-to-person (G2P) payments model that allows beneficiaries to choose among different financial service providers.
    4. Follow-up support:  Mentoring, peer support, and linkages to other programs, through weekly group meetings over the period of 6 months.

By 2024, SWL will reach 129,400 beneficiaries in eighty-one (81) districts across the ten (10) provinces of Zambia.

Identification of beneficiaries

Identification of beneficiaries under the SWL has evolved from identifying female breadwinners from very poor households using the Participatory Wealth Ranking at the community level to identifying the beneficiaries using the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) registry.

In line with the National Social Protection Policy, MCDSS has adopted integrated social protection programming, with Social Cash Transfer (SCT) serving as a foundation for a complementary support to extremely poor households. The Cash Plus approach is predicated on its potential to increase gains against poverty, while also offering substantial efficiencies/cost savings by removing entirely the targeting process from SWL through the use of the SCT beneficiary registry.

The SWL targets women aged 19 to 64 years from existing SCT households.


The impact of this component is being measured through a randomized control trial. The random assignment will be conducted at the community level, meaning that some communities will be randomly chosen to receive the SWL intervention, comprising the “treatment” group, while other communities (the “control” group) will not. Package variations will be as follows:

The midline survey for the Impact Evaluation is currently underway.


A GRM is a key pillar of any service delivery system – including social protection, education, health, etc. It allows citizens to provide feedback to implementers on service delivery and allows implementers to respond. Grievance Redress Mechanisms (GRM) help project management significantly enhance operational efficiency in a variety of ways, including generating public awareness about the project and its objectives; deterring fraud and corruption; mitigating risk; providing project staff with practical suggestions/feedback that allows them to be more accountable, transparent and responsive to beneficiaries, assessing the effectiveness of internal organizational processes and increasing stakeholder.

The GRM also includes features to handle complaints related to Gender-Based Violence (GBV), including Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA)/Sexual Harassment (SH), in line with principles such as anonymity, confidentiality, survivor centricity, urgency, safety, etc. GBV/SEA complaints are handled through the referral pathways at community and District levels.

Complaints at the community level can be submitted above channels.

Get your facts rights on SWL Programme by clicking here



Empowering Rural Women in Zambia to move out of Poverty
swl_pig business
Suppporting Women's Livelihoods has changed my life