Social cash transfer transforming livelihoods in Zomba

  • 19th March 2024
  • Category: News

Social Cash Transfer Programme improves livelihoods in Zomba

By Dalitso Chikwembani 

Mary Mailosi, 42, of Chilunga village in Traditional Authority Malemia in Zomba claims she was, in 2015, the poorest woman in her village. In that year, she says, she divorced her husband because he was uncaring and promiscuous.

“I decided to end our marriage because he was so uncaring. He could not provide for the family. He spent his money on women when his own household had nothing to eat…. when his own children had no clothes,’’ she says.

Following the divorce, she became the head of the household. She had to look after her four children. She had to feed and clothe them as well as provide their school needs. Life wasn’t any better.

“I was the poorest woman in the village then. But my livelihood has improved over the years. Thanks to the Government’s Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP),’’ she says.

Mailosi was enrolled as one of the beneficiaries of the SCTP in 2015 under Minama cluster in the Malemia area. The programme’s targeting criteria identified her as an eligible beneficiary for the social protection programme.

In the initial years of her entry into the programme, she invested the money she was receiving from the programme into a village savings and loan group. Apart from savings, she bought, on monthly basis, shares which could have earned her over K100,000 in returns at the end of each year.

Mailosi has also ventured into irrigation farming on a half-acre land. She grows maize and beans. She produces over three 50-kilogram bags of green maize and fresh beans.

“I am also a member of a beekeeping group. We have 30 beehives, and we harvest over 40 litres of honey every three months. We sell 200 ml of honey at K3,000. It is a lucrative venture. It fetches good income,’’ she says enthusiastically.

Godfrey Austin, 62, from the same Minama cluster, is another successful beneficiary of the SCTP. He, too, joined the programme in 2015. Just like, Mailosi, Austin, invested the money he was getting in the initial years of his enrollment into the village savings and loan group. He has, from his savings, managed to educate his children, one up to tertiary level.

“I will always value this programme for as long as I live because I have, through it, managed to educate two of my children. A girl has just completed her studies at Liwonde Teachers Training college, and one of my sons is in third year at Lilongwe University of Agriculture of Agriculture and Natural Resources. This is the foot print that the Mtukula Pakhomo (SCTP) has inscribed in my heart,’’ he says, his eyes glowing with much appreciation.

Austin is a member of the beekeeping group. He is also into irrigation farming. He grows maize, vegetables and bananas.

Minama cluster has 228 SCTP beneficiaries out of which 185 are women. The District Social Cash Transfer office in Zomba will soon embark on beneficiary retargeting. The retargeting is aimed at graduating some of the current beneficiaries and bringing in new beneficiaries.