Mr kazeze then appealed for the need for the malawi

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Mr. Kazeze then appealed for the need for the Malawi Government to take action on the 2006 Livingstone Call for Action on Social Protection. Among the actions recommended was the call for African governments to prepare costed cash transfer plans within two to three years and that these be integrated into national development plans and national budgets, which development partners can supplement. The presentation noted that Malawi did not have a comprehensive social protection programme. Existing social protection related to a small proportion of retirees from the public service. Even for this group, the pension benefit was not sufficient. Thus the pilot cash transfer project initiated in the district of Mchinji in 2006, and currently being extended to six other districts, would provide a safety cushion to the vulnerable, including the elderly. Examples of social pension programmes from Zambia, Lesotho, South Africa and Brazil were highlighted in the presentation. The general lessons from these countries were that social pensions: empower the elderly; help reduce extreme poverty and hunger and improve health; contribute to the human rights agenda including gender equality; improve the life chances of orphans and vulnerable children; are feasible and create economic opportunities; can be implemented at minimum cost (which may be less than 3 per cent of a country’s GDP); strengthen the social contract between the government and its citizens, thereby enhancing social cohesion; strengthen intergenerational solidarity within households/families; improve the economic situation of households where the elderly provide care to the vulnerable children whose long-term prospects are thus enhanced; strengthen the ability of households to manage assets and respond to risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities; and contribute to gender equality and help in promoting the empowerment of women.
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11 Finally, the presentation proposed a number of recommendations addressed to various development actors. These recommendations form the basis of section 4 of this report. Next, Mr Harry Mwamlima talked about the piloted social cash transfers scheme in Malawi. He started by briefly discussing overall statistical data about poverty and vulnerability patterns in Malawi, and then described key parameters, targeting criteria, fi nancing arrangements and implementation structures of the Government-sponsored cash transfer scheme which has been piloted in Mchinji, Likoma, Machinga and Salima districts since late 2006. Despite capacity problems at various levels of administration, preliminary results clearly show that the cash transfer scheme is effective in improving beneficiaries’ food security, standard of living, access to education and health services, as well as household agricultural production. Preparations are underway to scale-up the scheme to three additional districts in 2008, and to enhance monitoring and evaluation procedures. Importantly, lessons learned through the pilot helped to include cash transfers into the draft Social Protection Policy as a core strategy.
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