JCTR Welcomes Zambian Govt’s Move To Launch Covid-19 Emergency Social Cash Transfer

The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) heartily welcomes Government’s move to launch the emergency cash transfer aimed at cushioning negative economic effects of COVID-19 on households. This is a positive intervention particularly because it aims to cushion the suffering of the vulnerable and marginalised people of our society who have been affected and left helpless by the pandemic.

One notable negative effect of the pandemic has been the disruptions of livelihoods. Therefore, timely, responsive, effective and efficient social protection systems remain crucial to safeguarding the poor and vulnerable in Zambia.

The government emergency support will be in form of cash transfers and food packs and is not under the regular social cash transfer programme but a temporary social safety net that has been introduced to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 on vulnerable households.

According to the Ministry of Community Development, a transfer value of K400 per month shall be given to beneficiaries who are already in the database for a period of six months to enable them buy nutritious foods and other basic essentials.

JCTR as an institution that advocates for better living standards of the vulnerable in our society, is of the view that even though not all the vulnerable persons will be able to receive the emergency support due to limited resources, the COVID-19 Emergency Social Cash Transfer programme is a positive move as far as providing relief and support to some households is concerned. The intervention is also likely to have a positive effect on nutrition amongst other positive trickle-down effects for those that will receive the assistance.

JCTR, however, wishes to implore Government through relevant ministries to proactively;
• Prioritize
• Scale up and
• Extend such interventions to a wider population.

This is because some households that may have been well off prior to the pandemic, have fallen into the poverty trap. Although these households initially did not qualify as beneficiaries of the emergency cash transfer, the COVID-19 situation caused them to become vulnerable. JCTR, therefore urges Government to embrace this category.

Furthermore, JCTR would like to:
• Caution authorities responsible for the emergency support programme to ensure the cash transfer and the food pack benefits the targeted beneficiaries.
• Proper accountability and transparency is needed to ensure that the resources are not mismanaged, end up with people who do not deserve support, or worse off be used for individual benefits.

It is imperative that the targeted beneficiaries receive the support which was provided at great cost by cooperating partners. Therefore, efficiency and effective running of the emergency support programme is key.

JCTR Executive Director Fr Alex Muyebe, SJ.

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