Malawi government on Thursday officially launched an emergency cash transfer programme targeting about 1 million people and small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which President Arthur Peter Mutharika announced on Tuesday.
Mutharika announced about the emergency cash transfer programme for the poorest people in what is one of the world’s poorest countries , as government is tragetting 172,000 households, who will receive K35 0000 monthly payment equivalent to almost $50 (£40) through mobile money transfer from Friday.
Speaking at a media briefing, Minister of Population and Social Welfare Clara Makungwa, outlined the rationale of the whole process, saying households will be 80 178 in Lilongwe, 66 744 in Blantyre, 17 258 in Mzuzu and 8 703 in Zomba..
She said the programme is targeting 35 percent of the urban population and its direct beneficiaries include vendors, minibus touts, kabaza operators, street children and beggars, petty traders and casual labourers living in densely-populated peri-urban hotspot areas.
Finance and Economic Planning minister Joseph Mwanamvekha said in aninterview K38 billion has been set aside for the cash aid and the identified household will get the money for six months.
He said the amount is based on the prevailing government minimum wage rate for the low-income country, which so far seen has 37 positive cases of COVID-19 and three deaths. The first cases were announced on 2 April.
“As President Professor Peter Mutharika said in his national address, this emergency cash transfer programme will strengthen livelihoods during the coronavirus crisis,” said Mwanamvekha.
He government wants to prevent harm to the poorest and most vulnerable of society as curbs to life are going to be strictly enforces to prevent spread of the virus pandemic .
Leader of opposition in Parliament Robin Lowe welcomed the launch of the cash aide as he attended the launch representing opposition parties as a member of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19.
The World Bank said last week it had approved a $37 million funding package to help Malawi respond to the coronavirus.