Malawi needs K11.5bn in poverty eradication programme – official

Malawi Government needs about K11.5 billion every year to help eradicate poverty, Ministry of Gender, Children and Community Development has said.

Ministry of Gender, Children and Community Development Principal Secretary (PS), Dr Mary Shawa told Malawi News Agency (Mana) at Mbingwa Primary School in Mchinji at the sidelines of a community meeting on Social Cash Transfer Scheme that poverty remains a major problem in the country hence something needs to be done.

“We all know that poverty is a big problem in our communities. I am not just talking about mere poverty but acute or ultra poverty. We need to join hands with government in the fight against poverty so that we sing a new song. We need to include something in the national budget to address this,” she said.

She added,” A request has already been made to government that we include about K11.5 billion in each budget to look into issues about poverty; if we achieve this the story will be different in the next ten years as we will then be talking of reducing the problem.”

Shawa : We need more resources
Shawa : We need more resources

Social cash transfers have been running for the past seven years since its first inception in 2006 and have proved to be a life saver for the poor.

The beneficiaries get money ranging from K600 in a household of one person, K1, 000 in a household of two, K1, 400 in a household of three and K1, 800 in a household of more than five people.

Meanwhile, the scheme is being retargeted. The retargeting process for new beneficiaries and old ones began in November, 2012 and is expected to be finalized in April this year.

Mchinji District Council Director of Planning and Development, Walter Chikuni, called on the beneficiaries to the programme to make good use of the money they will receive in order to make the programme sustainable and to benefit other people who will need such assistance.

“I would like to encourage those already in the programme to make good use of the money and let development follow so that others should also benefit,” he said.

Despite beneficiaries saying the programme is good, they have called upon government to increase the amount of money saying commodity prices have gone up.

“We would like government to consider raising the money from K600 to at least K3, 000 so that people can be able to meet their daily needs as we all know prices of goods have gone up. Imagine the price of maize is now K1, 500 per pail and one receives K600, how can they cope up, government should consider this,” said James Chepetsani of Kachamba Village of Sub Traditional Authority (STA) Nyoka in the district.

However, the PS said it was not gradual that government would increase the money as there is a lot to be considered.

She said if the money is to be adjusted upwards, then the number of beneficiaries will be reduced.

The social cash transfer scheme was halted early last year, which left a lot of beneficiaries not receiving their money.

According to some government officials who spoke on conditions of anonymity the halt was due to the disagreements which were there with the donor during the late Bingu wa Muharika reign.

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