By Bertha Chirwa
Malawi Government has today signed a €20.5 million (MK20 billion) grant with the Irish Government aimed at supporting the cash transfer program in the country.
Minister of Finance Alfred Sosten Gwengwe signed the agreement on behalf of Malawi and said that government remains committed in improving the welfare of people with an aim of reducing poverty and vulnerability through social protection initiatives.
Addressing a press conference during the signing ceremony, Gwengwe said government recognizes that social protection is a powerful tool in the fight against poverty and eliminating lifelong consequences of poverty and exclusion.
Gwengwe said social protection initiatives have proved to have a huge positive impact on the lives of beneficiaries and their families as such the grant that they have received from Irish government will be specifically for the implemention of social cash transfer program.
“There is evidence from impact evaluations done locally and internationally which show that the social cash transfer programmes have enhanced household purchasing power, increased savings and investments among the beneficiary households who acquire assets like livestock, increased food expenditure and dietary diversity thereby contributing towards improving nutritional status of children through the support provided to the households,” said Gwengwe.
He added that government with help of the international community will continue investing in people to ensure accerelated development.
“We are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that social protection is an investment for our people. No vulnerable Malawian should be left behind in development.
“The Government will therefore continue to provide resources for implementation of social protection programmes in the country. As we do this, i invite other likeminded Malawians and friends of Malawi like Republic of Ireland to continue collaborating with the Government in support of these noble initiatives,” he said.
The Irish Aid has increased funding for the cash transfers from 13 million Euros in the last nine years to 20.5 Million Euros for the next 4 years which has enabled the government of Malawi to increase beneficiaries in Ntcheu and Balaka from 8,300 to the current 24,500 households.