GOVERNMENT is this year scaling up the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) to additional 27 districts in order to cover the entire country.
Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo said in a speech read on his behalf by assistant secretary Royd Tembo during the training of district welfare assistant committees (DWAC) members for Zanaco payment solution in Chipata on Wednesday.
Mr Kasolo said by the end of this year, the programme was expected to cover over 500,000 beneficiary households.
He said over the years, the programme has recorded significant positive impacts on the beneficiary livelihoods.
“These impacts ladies and gentlemen necessitated the need for the SCT programme to be scaled up to cover over 240,000 beneficiary households in 78 districts,”Mr Kasolo said.
He said SCT programme was one of the Zambia’s major social protection interventions whose aim was to reduce extreme poverty and prevents its intergenerational transfer.
He explained that although in the past years the SCT programme has managed to scale up to the extent it was today and recorded all the positive impacts, a few challenges related to the implementation and management have been observed.
Mr Kasolo said the most notable challenge the programme implementers have experienced was delivering transfers to the intended beneficiaries.
He said since the first pilot of the SCT programme in Kalomo in 2003 to date, a manual payment system using the pay point managers (PPMS) has been used.
He said the manual payment system has been proved to be problematic adding that it took long for cash to be delivered to the beneficiaries due to the long processes which was taking cash to beneficiaries proved to be costly.
Mr Kasolo said the ministry of community development and social welfare started exploring for alternative payment solutions that would address the challenges presented by the current used manual payment system.
“After a lot of investigation and research, the ministry decided to opt for an electronic payment solution that uses a bank, the bank will provide visa cards to all beneficiaries on the programme,” he said.
“The payment solutions which uses visa cards has a number of advantages which include secure payment, timely delivery of transfers, allows beneficiaries to save part of the money for future use, thus beneficiaries can decide when to withdraw the money and the risk associated with the pay point managers carrying money will be removed,” he said.
Mr Kasolo said he was confident that the new payment solution would improve management of the SCT programme and contribute to achieving the intended impacts of the programme.
The electronic payment solution would be piloted in 27 districts of Lusaka, Eastern and Central provinces before being rolled out to all the provinces.