The United Nations International Children’s’ Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has commended the Zambian government for scaling out the social cash transfer (SCT) scheme in an effort to reduce extreme poverty among selected beneficiaries in the country.
UNICEF chief executive officer, Mike Penrose made the observation on Thursday after his seven man delegation paid a courtesy call on Kalomo district commissioner, Cosmas Chiiba and later visited some SCT beneficiaries in Magrimond and Mawaya compounds in the district to assess the impact of the scheme.
Mr. Penrose observed that it was gratifying that beneficiaries are now able to send their children to school with the dependency on relatives and neighbours having drastically reduced while investment in small livestock has also increased culminating to improved household food security.
And Mr. Chiiba has thanked the international cooperating partners for supplementing government’s efforts to improve the livelihood and provide services to its citizens in various sectors.
The UNICEF team had delegates for Eastern and Southern Africa (EASR) management drawn from Spain, The United Kingdom, U.S.A, Finland, Kenya, and Zambia.
The SCT is a government programme funded by several international donor agencies where selected incapacitated and vulnerable households receive cash transfers of K140.00 bi-monthly.
The scheme was piloted in Kalomo in 2004 under the social welfare department and has since scaled out to 50 districts with a target to put about 242,000 beneficiaries in 78 districts of the country by the end of this year.
This is in line with the social protection target for reducing poverty under Sustainable Development Goal 1.3 which calls on countries to implement appropriate social protection systems and monitoring mechanisms to achieve significant coverage of the poor and vulnerable households by 2030.
Meanwhile, Kalomo district social welfare officer, Jean Hamonga lamented over the sporadic release of the funds to her office saying for this year alone, only two bi- monthly payments have been paid to the beneficiaries.