By Nyasha Mutena
Harare, 23 March 2023 – The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, UNICEF and partners have officially launched the next phase of the Emergency Social Cash Transfer (ESCT) Programme that aims to provide cash payments to close to 19,000 households in five new rural districts.
The programme was launched during a workshop held in Bulawayo, recently.
Under this new phase, the Emergency Social Cash Transfer (ESCT), which is being funded by the German Government through KfW and delivered together with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, UNICEF, Goal and World Vision, will provide cash payments to five new districts-Binga, Rushinga, Mudzi, Mangwe and Makoni, while availing a further three months of continuity support to its existing urban districts.
In his opening remarks at the launching workshop earlier this month, Dr Edmos Mtetwa, the Chief Director of Social Development and Disability Affairs of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, appreciated the collaboration between his Ministry, UNICEF and the implementing partners:
“I urge that the excellent coordination between all stakeholders be maintained across the whole processes from grassroots level to national level. Through our coordinated effort we need to ensure that we reach the most vulnerable in the communities and minimise exclusion,” he said.
The programme, which combines with nutrition and child protection services, was first launched in August 2020 supporting the two districts of Gutu and Highfields. In 2022 the programme supported over 113,790 individuals and 25,801 households in the urban localities of the eight districts of Beitbridge, Binga, Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Gutu, Highfields, Lupane and Mufakose. 2022 also marked the handover of Gutu and Highfields Districts back to Government and their integration within the Government led Harmonised Social Cash Transfer Programme (HSCT).
Zeinab Adam, the Deputy Representative of Programmes at UNICEF, highlighted the importance of the holistic approach of the programme:
“Providing support from multiple angles is essential because we know that there are multiple vulnerabilities that need to be addressed and that cash alone cannot do it”.
This phase will also rope in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to support selected schools in these districts through a school feeding programme for one school calendar year. This will be organized through the School Improvement Grant, an established mechanism that provides direct payments to schools to support them address most basic needs and meet a minimum set of school functionality criteria.