Malawi: Four Local Councils Fail to Account for Mk2.7bn World Bank Sctp Funds

Mangochi — District councils of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Nkhotakota and Karonga risk being removed from the list in the next round of World Bank Social Cash Transfer funding as they are yet to account for MK2.7 billion for the previous funding.

Director of Operations for the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC), Paul Chipeta, disclosed this on Tuesday in Mangochi during the opening of a review, planning and budgeting meeting of the World Bank-funded districts on Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP).

Chipeta said out of 11 districts funded by the World Bank, the four districts had failed to submit their reports in June as expected and that they might not receive the subsequent funding.

"Out of the MK10.7bn that the eleven districts received from the World Bank for the April-June cycle, MK2.7bn is yet to be accounted for by the four councils of Blantyre, Nkhotakota, Lilongwe and Karonga, which are yet to submit their reports," explained Chipeta.

He stressed that the councils that failed to submit reports on how the previous funds had been exhausted would not receive any subsequent funds.

Chipeta described the development as unfortunate, saying it would lead to the suffering of the beneficiaries of the Social Cash Transfer Program whose lives had begun to improve with the intervention.

Apart from the four district councils, the World Bank is also funding Rumphi, Ntchisi, Kasungu, Dowa, Dedza, Nkhata Bay and Chiradzulu targeting 114,000 households.

At national level, 280,000 families are benefiting from the social cash transfer in all the 28 districts with European Union, Germany and Irish Government supporting the remaining district councils.

The review meeting was officially opened by Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Thom Navicha, who, in her keynote address, challenged the councils to be prudent in their implementation of the programme to ensure that it benefits the vulnerable Malawians.

However, the minister noted that despite the challenges registered in the programme, the social cash transfer was on track at national level as it was bearing the expected fruits to the deserving people.

She said the targeted households were able to buy food or produce on their own enough for their families.

She noted that some families were also able to send their children to school, build better homes, run some small businesses as well as being able to buy some assets such as livestock.

"The SCTP is really a spring board for these households to move out of poverty: As I speak now, there is a household in Balaka headed by a woman. This woman has supported her boy to go to school using the money she receives from this program," explained Navicha.

"This boy passed MSCE with 10 points and was selected to Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) to commence his studies this coming September," she added.

Navicha said her ministry, through the Social Welfare Department, was looking for scholarship for the boy to be able to go to MUST to do his studies.

The minister thanked World Bank and all other development partners for their support towards the programme, adding that government would continue supporting the same.

According to the minister, since 2014, government financial support towards the programme has increased from MK500 million to MK 2 billion to date, signifying government's commitment to the sustainability of the programme.

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