THE United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says the 2023 Zambian national budget foresees coverage of more than 1.3 million beneficiary households under the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) programme.
UNICEF Country Representative Penelope Campbell said by the end of next year, the SCT programme would have covered about two thirds of the poor population in Zambia.
Ms Campbell said with the commitment and strong financing from the Zambian Government, the SCT w hich startedas a small pilot in 2003 has now grown to massive national scale.
She said the provision of material support through cash transfers provided an opportunity to mobilise and facilitate improvements across all dimensions of poverty, food security, basic needs, health, education, nutrition and access to information.
She said UNICEF and the World Bank, were happy to continue with their engagement to facilitate lessons learned and information exchange between African Governments to improve overall delivery and build on the multitude of best practices emerging across the continent.
The UNICEF country representative said this during the Africa Community of Practice on Cash Transfers (CT COP) Face-to-Face Meeting in Livingstone yesterday.
She said the community of practice was a powerful platform for governments to come together and exchange with one another in order to facilitate learning and promote innovation across many countries that were deepening and expanding their social assistance programmes.
She said both UNICEF and the World Bank were globally invested in the provision of social assistance through cash transfers and had offered support to governments in evidence-based designing, capacity building, systems strengthening and financing of the relevant programmes.
“It is paramount that governments continue investing in cash transfers and their expansion, catering for the different needs across the life cycle. Evidence shows us that we have the possibility to break inter-generational poverty cycles, to cushion and mitigate disasters and to further the resilience and wellbeing of vulnerable populations,” Ms Campbell said.
She said the COVID-19 pandemic was an indisputable reminder of the greater need to build adaptable and stronger social protection systems in fragile contexts.
She said now more than ever, Africa was witnessing a humanitarian crisis as a result of climate change, economic downturn, pandemics and conflict. Community Development and Social Services Minister Doreen Mwamba said the Zambian Government had used and continues to use social protection as an effective intervention in responding to shocks.
Ms Mwamba said the country’s Social Cash Transfer programme was the Government’s flagship social protection programme and was being implemented countrywide.
She said the Government leveraged on the SCT programme delivery systems and modus operandi to reach out to the affected households and communities to provide support during the drought and the COVID-19 pandemic respectively.