Mtukula Pakhomo – Combatting poverty through social cash transfers

Dyson on his way to the SCTP pay-point to receive his first cash Transfer

August 2015 – From 25 to 27 September, more than 150 world leaders will attend the UN Sustainable Development Summit at UN Headquarters in New York, where they are expected to formally adopt an ambitious new sustainable development agenda. This new agenda is a plan of action to end poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere.

In Malawi, one of the means to combat poverty is the Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP). In Chichewa the programme is called Mtukula Pakhomo, which means “to empower the household”.

Dyson Sauzande is one of the beneficiaries of the Mtukula Pakhomo programme targeting ultra-poor and labour-constrained households. He comes from Mulanje District, a new SCTP district under the Mtukula Pakhomo programme. The programme was scaled up to 18 districts and 150,341 households in 2014/15 through the support of the EU and other development partners. The EU is currently supporting eight districts under the SCTP. In Mulanje, 13,167 households are covered by the programme. Eligible beneficiaries received their first monthly cash transfers in August 2015.

Mr Sauzande is 80 years old and physically challenged. After the death of his wife 15 years ago, he has been staying in one household with his brother in-law aged 74. “Food is usually shared to us by well-wishers” states Mr Sauzande, emphasizing his reliance on external support to access daily meals. Furthermore, his physical status has been a challenge and significantly compromises his ability to work. “My legs are swollen, I cannot farm or do any kind of work. Two days ago, I tried to farm, but I hurt my leg. Because of my physical state, I easily get sick and cannot afford to go to the hospital or buy any medication. I just sleep in the house, hoping for a miracle to come.” Given his status as an elderly person without a spouse or supporting relatives, his life conditions have been seriously compromised. “My wife had been doing some farming or fetching food for the house. But now, as an old man without her, I had to learn to cook and provide for myself. My in-law is equally old and we usually just cook beans, because they are cheap and can serve for meals of three to four days.”

The first payment of cash transfers through the SCTP seemed to be a surprise to Mr Sauzande, as he did not trust the programme would really help him. “Yesterday, I received a message from the Community Social Support Committee members that we will receive money today. This money is my relief and my hope. I was registered on the programme three months ago and after this maso anga anali kunjira (my eyes were just looking around to the road),” Mr Sauzande stated, “It is a miracle to me that we have already started receiving money. I thought it was just a programme moving around the communities and lying to us. I never thought the government would reach out to a hopeless man like me and provide hope.”

After receiving his monthly cash transfer, Mr Sauzande expressed his gratitude and appreciation. “I am very happy today, I have received MKW 2,200 and I am going to the market now to buy maize flour so that I can cook Nsima and some small fish. I will also use part of this money to buy pain killers for my legs. I am so happy for this programme, now my life is full of hope.”