The United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) and Outreach Scout Foundation (OSF) have joined forces to push the Malawi Government to increase budgetary allocations to social protection programmes.
ILO national project coordinator, Reagan Kaluluma, argued on Thursday that contrary to other people’s assertions that such programmes could promote laziness and dependency among beneficiaries, the initiatives have proven the most effective tools for reducing poverty and inequality in a country.
Kaluluma made the remarks in Lilongwe during a media orientation on social protection.
He stated that in developed countries such as China, social protection programmes have helped lift the underprivileged communities out of abject poverty.
“There is a myth that when poor people are given money, the cash will be wasted on alcohol and tobacco. But there is no evidence of increased expenditure on alcohol and tobacco in Malawi among Social Cash Transfer Programme. In fact, in Lesotho, there is evidence that cash transfers actually reduced alcohol expenditure. The Social Cash Transfer programme improved household food security by 13 percent among ultra poor households, and that it increased school attendance by 11 percent in primary school and 13 percent in secondary school,” argued Kaluluma.
He added that social protection programmes could help address the widespread food insecurity and reliance on subsistence agriculture and work in the informal economy.
“Furthermore, social protection programmes could help address lack of access to essential, services and vulnerability to climate related shocks,” emphasized Kaluluma.
OSF executive director Amon Lukhele said his organization has partnered with ILO in drilling journalists with skills for reporting on social protection programmes.
Lukhele asked the media to take greater interest in reporting on the topic.