Kaputa district in Northern Province is considered one of the poorest districts in the country. 

This is why government has often considered it for a number of projects aimed at alleviating poverty among its population. One such program is the ‘Social Cash Transfer which started five years ago.

The Social Cash Transfer is a program which government is implementing to help reduce poverty through transfer of money to persons who meet the specified criteria. These transfers are given to recipients-monthly, that is every after two months.

In Kaputa, government has been implementing the child Grant type of transfer where it was giving out K140 bi-monthly to parents or guardians with children below the age of five. 

This saw a total of 6, 500 households (mothers) and thousands of people benefit from the project in Kaputa district during the last five year.

Like other programs, the child grant transfers had a goal which was to achieve a universal target of helping fight malnutrition in under five children among other targets.  

This target to reduce the prevalence of underweight in under five children is in line with Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number one and part C.

The program was helping disadvantaged mothers or guardians provide basic needs to children such as nutrition, clothing and access to health services.

Child grant Kaputa has been described as a success in Kaputa as it is assumed that the majority of the beneficiaries were using the transfers to meet the needs of the children in the house. This in away helped to fight vulnerability, and malnutrition in children.

Beneficiaries of the child grant not only used the money to buy basic necessities like food, soap, others used part of the money to invest in various businesses.

One of the beneficiary of the child grant, Grace Mulonga of Mulobelwa village of Kaputa said the grant has helped women to look after the children.

She added that women also used part of the money to empower themselves through a group known as the Village Loans and Savings Association (VLSA) which beneficiaries of these funds formed.

She explains that she would buy food and other necessities for the child while invest the remainder into business with the profit now going to the loan association.

 “When we started getting the money, some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) came and taught us life skills such how to keep the money and we formed groups which we called the VLSA.” Ms Mulonga.

Another beneficiary, Purity Chomba explained that she not only used the money to provide for the child but the whole family.

Ms Chomba also of Mulobelwa village said the money has really helped the women to provide for their children and therefore helping to fight malnutrition.

She said as little as the funds seemed, it had a substantial impact in the lives of many children and women in Kaputa.

She has since thanked government for empowering them through the Child grant. However, critics of the child grant said the program was not sensitive as it left out genuine beneficiaries like the aged, disabled and instead supported people who may already have enough like civil servants as long they had children below the age of 5.

Realising the complaints that came with the child grant program, government has now phased out child grant program in Kaputa and is introducing the Inclusive Model type which targets the most vulnerable in the community such as the aged, disabled, destitute and incapacitated households.

Unlike, child Grant whose acceptability from the public was much lower due to perception that it did not help the poorest of the poor to reduce poverty; the Inclusive model meets public perception of targeting the poor who are those with reduced labour capacity.

Kaputa District Social Welfare Officer, Acleo Kachi Kandunda said government has concluded that the inclusive model is the most ideal type of social cash transfer as it carters for the most vulnerable such as the aged, the disabled and incapacitated families with a high level of dependence.

He noted that the inclusive model will see the real vulnerable who includes the aged, disabled and incapacitated homes benefit from the government sponsored program to alleviate poverty.

 “The difference between this program and the child grant which we phased out last year is that under the child grant people in gainful employment were benefiting from the funds provided they had a child who was below the age of five. But the inclusive model will see government transfer money to the real vulnerable and disadvantaged people in communities like the aged, disabled and the destitute.” He said.

Mr  Kandunda said the Inclusive model will therefore help the department of social welfare meets its original mandate which is to alleviate poverty through social scheme support.

“This program has been implemented by donors all this time. But government has now seen the significant the program has in alleviating poverty and has prioritized it in its national agenda by allocating funds in the national budget for the program” he said.

He further disclosed that his department has since identified 37communities through the Community Welfare Assistant Committees (CWACs)to benefit from the inclusive model cash transfer program.

Mr Kandunda explained that over 6,500 household heads are expected to benefit from the program in its first year.

He adds that more other beneficiaries will be identified and included in the program in the second and third year.

“The program will start with 6,500 people in the first year because these will just be a replacement of those people who were getting the child grant. But once government pumps in more money, we expect to include more other people to benefit from the program” Mr. Kandunda said.

He revealed that of the total target of 6,500 people to benefit from the funds 2,150 have already been identified and are currently receiving the transfers. He said of the 2, 150 who have started getting the transfers, 60 are disabled.

 He said the department of social welfare is now finalizing the recruitment of 1,900 people who were in the control community and are expected to benefit from the project. And another 2,500 people will be recruited from the communities which were receiving the child grant.

Mr Kandunda said all the 6,500 beneficiaries are expected to start receiving the transfers by August this year.

“From our projections we expect all the over 6,500 households to benefit from the Inclusive Model to start receiving the transfers by August this year” he said.

He further disclosed that the department has also received funding for buildup activities towards the implementation of the program.

Mr Kandunda added that his department has also been tasked to explain the program to different stakeholders for them to understand it fully and support it. He explained to stakeholders that the program will stick to groups that are ‘unfit’ for work and incapacitated house with high dependence ratio.

The inclusive model will not only help to fight the harsh impact of poverty among the disadvantaged groups, but also reduce on the begging. And the people of Kaputa district are highly expected of the program and the impact it will have.