Acting President Guy Scott says no country can achieve meaningful and sustainable economic growth without social protection playing an active role.
And Community Development Mother and Child Health Permanent Secretary Prof. Elwyn Chomba charged that government realigned the functions of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Community Development in order to improve the delivery of primary health care services.
Dr. Scott charged that social protection has gained prominence in the last decade and social cash transfers are considered as one of the most effective tools of social protection.
He said whilst the African continent has made tremendous strides in various areas, poverty eradication still remains a daunting but not an insurmountable challenge.
Dr. Scott said this in a speech read for him by Community Development Mother and Child Health Minister Emerine Kabanshi during the official opening of the Community of Practice of Cash and Conditional Cash Transfers in Africa held at Chrismar hotel in Livingstone this morning.
The Acting President noted that various member states of the African Union have made commitments to fighting poverty giving an example of the Yaoundé Call for Africa of September 2006 where commitments were made to implement social protection to deal with poverty and vulnerability.
Dr. Scott observed that though the advent of social cash transfers on the continent was riddled with a lot suspicion and apprehension, the understanding of the programme widened and deepened.
He mentioned that the coverage and scope increased to an extent of having about twenty countries in Africa implementing social cash transfers.
Dr. Scott said in Zambia the scheme spearheaded by the Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health underwent massive scale up this year which saw the number of districts increase from 19 to 50 districts out of the total number of 103 districts.
Beneficiaries of the scheme increased from 61, 000 households last year to 151, 000 this year. This is expected that by the end of this year, about 189, 000 beneficiaries households would have been reached.
Studies from the impact evaluation results in Zambia, Social Cash Transfer has had positive impacts on the livelihoods and welfare of the beneficiaries.
Earlier, Community Development Mother and Child Health Permanent Secretary Prof. Elwyn Chomba charged that government realigned the functions of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Community Development in order to improve the delivery of primary health care services.
Prof. Chomba said this was done in order to holistically deal with health matters by using the available and existing community structures to prevent and improve the nutrition and reduce the burden of preventable diseases through community interventions.
He said this in a speech read for him by Director of Social Welfare Stanfilled Michelo.
Prof. Chomba stressed that social cash transfer play an important role in improving health outcomes by enabling beneficiaries have a better nutrition.
At the same functions, UNICEF Representative Paul Quarles Van Ufford said social cash transfers are a global priorities and a core element of the organization’s corporate agenda to achieving equitable results for children.
The workshop’s main objectives is to facilitate knowledge exchange by sharing emerging experiences among professionals and development practitioners from social cash transfer implementing countries in Africa and to promote improved understanding of innovations in the delivery of safety nets in Africa.