The Herald (Harare)

20 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Govt Disburses U.S.$4,8 Million to the Poor

Government has disbursed US$4,8 million to more than 18 000 poor families in 10 districts across the country under the Harmonised Cash Transfer Scheme that started in February. The scheme seeks to provide social protection for vulnerable households.

Ministry of Labour and Social Services director for social services Mr Sydney Mhishi confirmed the amount disbursed to 18 853 families.

"To date, six cycles of payments have been completed and 18 853 households have been receiving cash disbursements since February 2012 and a total of US$4 800 000 has been disbursed for the six cycles," he said.

Mr Mhishi said the beneficiaries were receiving cash disbursements on a bi-monthly basis.

The areas that have benefited are Bulawayo, Harare, Chivi, Kariba (urban and rural), Makoni (both urban and rural), Mangwe, Rushinga, Umguza and Zvishavane.

Mr Mhishi said payments were calculated per month ranging from US$10 for one-person household to US$25 depending on the size of the household.

He said Government, through the National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programme, embarked on the Harmonised Social Cash Transfers Scheme to provide social protection for vulnerable households.

Mr Mhishi dismissed claims from some quarters that the scheme was partisan.

"The Ministry of Labour and Social Services is mandated to provide social services to all vulnerable groups in the country without discrimination," he said.

"To date, the Ministry of Labour and Social Services has not received any complaints of partisanship under the HSCT Scheme."

The scheme, Mr Mhishi said, targeted constrained food poor households that are estimated to be about 10 percent of the Zimbabwean household population.

"The HSCT targets labour constrained and food poor households," he said.

"Food poor households are those households whose members are living below the food poverty line and are unable to meet their most urgent basic needs such that they can take only one or no meal per day, are not able to purchase essential non-food items like soap, clothing, school utensils, live on begging or some piece work, have no valuable assets and get no regular support from relatives, pensions and other welfare programmes."

Households that are labour constrained are those that have no able-bodied household member in the age group 18 to 59, who is fit for productive work, because they are elderly, chronically sick, disabled or handicapped or are still of school going age.

"The HSCT, as a social protection intervention, is a predictable, consistent and sustainable way of addressing mostly chronic household poverty arising out of ageing, chronic illness and the burden of care for the elderly, orphans and the sick among other aspects," Mr Mhishi said.

He said the scheme particularly provided support to the care and protection of children who are orphaned and vulnerable.

"It also aims at reducing the incidence of negative and unsafe coping mechanisms by families and children in the face of multiple deprivations," he said.

The Harmonised Social Cash Transfers is jointly funded by Government and a number of donors through the Child Protection Fund managed by Unicef.

Government, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Services matches the donor funds and this year it committed US$7,5m, while US$6m was disbursed in 2011.

The funding is set to increase annually both from Government and from donors and the scheme is expected to reach 55 000 households by 2015.

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