Cabinet Malawi approves National Social Support Policy

July 3, 2012

On 5 July 2012 the Cabinet in Malawi approved the National Social Support Policy. This is one day after STOP AIDS NOW! and its local partners NOVOC, CEYCA, IPRSE and YONECO hosted a symposium in Lilongwe entitled ‘Reduce poverty amongst vulnerable groups – invest in Social Cash Transfers’. One of the recommendations of the symposium was to speed up the passing of the National Social Support Policy that had been in draft quite some time.

For two years the four civil society organizations (CSOs), with support of STOP AIDS NOW!, had implemented the Project ‘Strengthening the Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme through Linking and Learning’ (the Strengthening Project). The project was operational for one year in Chitipa district (2010) and one year in Mangochi district (2011). The four CSOs worked closely with the district councils in these two districts, who are responsible for the implementation of the government-led Social Cash Transfer programme in their district. The Strengthening Project aimed to improve the management and implementation of the Social Cash Transfer Programme and to enhance commitment to the programme at the national, district, and community level. Moreover, it aspired to strengthen linkages of programme beneficiaries to other social support services. 

In March 2012, STOP AIDS NOW! commissioned an independent evaluation to document lessons learnt in the Strengthening Project. These lessons learnt were shared in the symposium entitled ‘Reduce poverty amongst vulnerable groups – invest in Social Cash Transfers’, that took place in Lilongwe on 4 July 2012. Over 60 representatives of ministries, district councils, civil society organizations, national and international donor organizations, research institutes and the beneficiaries of the Social Cash Transfer Programme were gathered in Crossroads hotel and shared their experiences with the Social Cash Transfers Programme. The symposium identified some crucial key issues for which immediate attention from government is required:

  1. Government on its own would not have all it requires to ably support the Social Cash Transfer Programme with regards to financial and technical requirements;
  2. There is a great need for the SCALING UP of the Social Cash Transfer Programme within target districts and into new districts;
  3. Linkages with other viable support programmes are essential but needing defined structural establishment for economic and social multiplier approach.

In view of the recognition above, the Symposium recommended the government to speed up the passing of the National Social Support Policy which has been a Draft for some time now. The general view of the symposium has been that passing the policy has many benefits amongst the key ones being:

  1. To bring in many more donors to finance the Social Cash Transfer Programme;
  2. To bring in more Civil Society Organisations commitment into adding value to achieving the social and economic well-being of the beneficiaries and their communities;
  3. To develop Programme implementation structures and systems to enhance collaboration and effective utilization of benefits of partnership;
  4. It places rights and responsibilities on the beneficiaries to appreciate the levels and strategies of the Social Protection Programme.

With the Social Support Policy in place the symposium believes the socio-economic well-being of orphans and other vulnerable children, women and the elderly labour constrained population in Malawi, can seriously be improved. 

At the end of the symposium day a letter was sent out to the Minister outlining the above issues and recommendations. This was the last of a long series of advocacy-activities that took place in the course of the Strengthening Project stressing the need for Cabinet to pass the Social Support Policy that had been in draft for some years. The day after Cabinet of Malawi approved the National Social Support Policy.