By Richard Nyamanhindi
“I cannot walk properly,” says 84 year old Mbuya Matajwa Mwanza a beneficiary of the Harmonised Social Cash Transfer programme at Marahwa Business Centre in Mashonaland West in Zimbabwe.
“It is completely bent on its side at a very awkward angle. A few years ago, I fell and broke my leg. I could not pay for the doctor. Since then my foot has been paralyzed.”
Due to her injury, Mbuya Matajwa Mwanza is not able to work in her fields and relies on her grandchildren Mike aged 16 and Chipo 11. As an elderly headed household, Matajwa could not provide enough food, clothing or blankets for her household. She and her grandchildren all slept on mats on a dirt floor.
During her heydays Mbuya Mwanza used to be a very skillful successful farmer. However, when her children passed on leaving her with two grandchildren to take care of, she assumed the burden of taking care of them.
And to make ends meet, she did piece jobs for her neighbours. Despite her hard work, she was only able to feed her family one proper meal a day. And when she injured her leg in 2009, Mbuya Mwanza failed to take care of her family and her grandchildren Mike and Chipo had to drop out of school.
When she was informed that she was going to become a beneficiary of the Harmonised Social Cash Transfer programme Mbuya Mwanza could not believe her ears.
Since she became one of the beneficiary of the cash transfer programme in February of 2014, she has been able to take care of the necessities of daily life, but also to plan and invest in longer term goals.
Chipo is now back in school, but Mike is looking to join the Second Chance Education programme which was recently introduced by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and UNICEF under the Education Development Fund.
With the $50 that Mbuya Mwanza receives bimonthly she has invested in a goat, which has since given birth to two kids. She also bought fertilizer for her crops.
“I now have cement floors in the two huts that we have so we do not sleep on the dirt anymore. We are planning to build an asbestos two bedroom house soon,” Mbuya Mwanza says.
The Harmonised Social Cash Transfer programme was introduced under the second phase of the National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (NAP II) implemented by the government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare with financial and technical support from UNICEF. Funding for NAP II is provided through the Child Protection Fund supported by a pool of donors.
The first transfer was provided in February 2012. The programme aims to enable beneficiary households to increase their consumption to a level above the food poverty line, to reduce the number of ultra-poor households and to help beneficiaries avoid risky coping strategies such as child labour and early marriage.