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Changing lives with small cash transfers

Inonge Siamalambo teaches a third-grade class at Kamanga Basic School in Lusaka, Zambia. Photo: UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt

Families now have more food, school attendance by children has improved and more households now own small animals.

In 2004, the Zambian Government, with support from Ireland and other donors, launched a social cash transfer programme. Under the programme, vulnerable families receive €8 each month – not a lot but enough to make a real difference. The households which receive assistance are the poorest within their communities, usually those without adults who are able to work. This includes elderly people and families affected by HIV and AIDS, often with grandparents supporting orphans.

“I used to depend on well wishers to give me food but I can now hire people to till land in my maize field. I also afford to buy maize seed and fertilizers. I usually have enough food for my family,” 

Over 50,000 households across six of Zambia’s ten provinces are enrolled in the programme, reaching approximately 250,000 people. Significant results are being seen including families now having more food, better school attendance by children and more households owning small animals.

We are supporting national social protection programmes because we recognise that cash payments and other supports can make a huge difference to the lives of very poor people. Such small but regular supports help ensure that vulnerable families have enough to eat, and once their basic needs are met, are able to save and plan for the future.

“I used to depend on well wishers to give me food but I can now hire people to till land in my maize field. I also afford to buy maize seed and fertilizers. I usually have enough food for my family,” said Elina Tembo, 87, Katete district.