GOVERNMENT needs to do more to empower the rural communities by extending the social cash transfer scheme to all rural parts of the country.
Chipata resident Emelia Phiri told the Daily Nation that there was need for Government through the Ministry of Community Development to do more to extend the scheme to all rural parts of the country.
Ms Phiri said many Zambians needed the money to alleviate poverty as 90 percent of the rural population lived in extreme poverty and that it was important that Government put in measures to cushion the effects of the poverty levels on the economy.
Ms Phiri, a social worker, said the social cash transfer that Government had launched under the Ministry of Community Development was one way to achieve sustainable economic growth and that without social protection playing an active role there would be nothing tangible that Government would achieve.
She said according to statistics issued by the Vice-President Guy Scott when he launched the social cash transfer, that about 42 percent of the poor people in Zambia were extremely poor and that these statistics if not properly tackled would lead Zambia backwards.
She said though the social cash transfer was aimed at directly fighting poverty, it was also important for Government to consider giving life skills to people that were receiving these funds in an effort to avoid making the money go to waste.
“Government should consider introducing the cash scheme to all parts of the country if the country was to attain the Millennium Development Goals on poverty eradication between 2016 and 2030. A lot of people here in Eastern Province are not aware of the scheme and we are urging the Government to accelerate the roll out plan on the same.
“Poverty can only be fought if Government roll out this plan of empowering people with cash and there must be a way in which to address these challenges.
As women we welcome the idea but we are worried that some people may just eat that money and think Government will be providing cash to them every day.
The ministry should also emphasise on the need to raise incomes so that citizens can become economically productive,” she said.
Ms Phiri observed that the inequalities in poverty levels if not seriously addressed could lead to social and economic problems.
She said some areas in Zambia were empowered but that very little progress was noted as most of the recipients were either elderly, widowed or disabled.
The social worker said there was also need for Government to conduct serious evaluation of the programme and see how it was performing so far and how the selection of beneficiaries was being conducted as some of the provinces were not benefitting.