Zimbabwe: Unicef introduces social cash transfer

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The Government of Zimbabwe and UNICEF, through contributions from the international donor community, have introduced a Social Cash Transfer Programme mechanism for extremely poor labour constrained households, especially the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) and Child Headed Households that will help these households to meet their daily needs, such as food and clothing. TheUNICEF Spokesperson Micaela De Sousa said the Social Cash Transfer programme is expected to reduce poverty levels in poor households and ensure improved access to basic social services such as education and health.

“The implementation of the NAP for OVC is supported through the Child Protection Fund; a multi donor pooled funding mechanism that is managed by UNICEF. The Harmonised Social Cash Transfer Programme seeks to reduce household poverty and economic disparity of approximately 55 000 extremely poor labour constrained households, including those with orphans and other vulnerable children, by implementing national social cash transfers,” said Sousa.

Under the cash transfer programme, extremely poor labour constrained households will receive an average of US$20 a month. The cash payout will vary slightly from household to household depending on the size of the family. “A pilot programme is already underway in Goromonzi, where about 105 households are receiving payments. This pilot programme is intended to assist the Government in designing a national Cash Transfer programme for Zimbabwe by December 2013,” said.

The Director of Social Services in the Ministry of Labour and Social Service, Mr. Sydney Mhishi, said after the launch of pilot programme in Goromonzi in February 2011that the full programme roll out is expected to commence around July 2011 to an estimated 23 166 households in the first year. Mhishi said he hoped the programme will improve the welfare of many orphaned children in the country. He said the need for a Harmonised Social Cash Transfer programme arose out of the need to increase support to orphaned and vulnerable children in a holistic and family centered approach that addresses poverty and vulnerability dimensions against household labour capability.

The selection of beneficiaries is done through a census of all households followed by a poverty assessment of labour constrained households implemented by an independent agency in consultation with Community Child Protection Committees. However, because of limited resources the Cash Transfer programme will be implemented in a phased approach in geographical targeting. “In 2011 the programme will cover the 10 poorest districts in each of the country’s 10 provinces. Each subsequent year ten poorest districts will be selected to give a total of 30 districts by 2013. For 2011 government has made a budgetary provision of US$4 million complemented by a donor contribution of US$6 million,” added Sousa.

The selection of the districts was based on a poverty assessment of the districts using data from the Poverty Assessment Study Survey of 2003 and the National Nutrition Survey of 2010. The districts to be covered in the first year are Makoni, Rushinga, Goromonzi, Kariba, Umguza, Mangwe, Chivi, Zvishavane, Epworth and a few selected wards in Bulawayo.