Government has switched to mobile money platform to ensure vulnerable households recieve monthly social cash transfers with ease.
The cash transfers through TNM Mpamba marks migration from the traditional cash handouts.
The phone-based payment system is expected to ease access to the funds dispensed to ensure the ultrapoor do not slide into dehumanising poverty.
Gertrude Mpwaya, from Traditional Authority Nchilamwera, cannot hide her excitement with the new development.
“This means I will no longer have to wait in long queues to receive the cash transfers. I will definitely save time to do other things and still access just enough money when I want it,” she said.
Mpwaya hopes to utilise the mobile money platform to save her money, not keeping it in a savings box.
Beneficiaries of the Social Cash Transfer Programme receive payouts for poverty alleviation every two months and the sum ranges according to household size, including the number of schoolgoing children.
Senior Chief Nchilamwera encourages beneficiaries to save part of the cash transfers via the mobile money platform.
“This is a timely switch,” he says. “Previously, many beneficiaries would receive and spend all the cash in a day. They weren’t accustomed to savings,” he said.
The traditional leader says the programme has uplifted many Malawians in abject poverty, especially the labour-constrained such as the elderly and persons with disability.
But Nchilamwera asked the beneficiaries to report fraudsters to police.
Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati says the mobile money platform will help secure the cash transfers for the benefit and convenience of target households.
She says: “In fact we just want to protect government money because sometimes there is no transparency and accountability.
“This will also help beneficiaries save part of the money instead of spending it all at one go. So, it is a very secure programme.
Kaliati asked beneficiaries to protect their mobile phone cards and keep their access codes a top secret.
She states that it is disheartening that some beneficiaries misuse cash transfers instead of using it to lift themselves out of poverty.
She said misuse of the cash transfers is a huge setback to the national struggle to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eliminate poverty, hunger and inequalities by 2030.
The 17 global goals promote gender equality as well as access to lifelong education, healthcare and water and sanitation for all by the close of the decade.
Kaliati challenged the cash transfer recipients to use the money wisely to accelerate the fight against all forms of poverty and improve their well-being.
She says government is committed to safeguard livelihoods of poor Malawians.
TNM Mpamba Limited general manager Timothy Sukasuka says the electronic payment mode will speed up the cash transfers and enhance safety.
“This is a secure platform for the cash transfers because the money goes straight to the intended beneficiaries, increasing public confidence that the money will reach the intended person without hiccups. A third party cannot access the money unless they are given a beneficiary’s secret pin,” says Sukasuka.
Thyolo is the only district where the social cash transfers are fully funded by the government. There are 16 482 beneficiaries.
The government and its partners support 1 283 601 people from 293 632 households in all 28 districts. The majority of them are labour-constrained and the vulnerable, including widows, orphans, women-headed households, children raising children and the elderly.
The 27 districts are supported by various donors. The World Bank covers 11 districts, the German Government through KfW in seven districts, the European Union in another seven and Irish Aid in two districts.