Since 2003, the Zambian government has been running a set of pilot social cash transfer schemes. The first pilot began in Kalomo, and the schemes have since spread to four other districts – Chipata, Katete, Kazungula and Monze.
The aim of the pilots is to test which model could best form the basis of a national social protection system.
Most of the pilots cash transfer projects use a community-based targeting system, aimed at a small percentage of households identified as living in extreme poverty.
The pilot being run in the Katete district is different from the others, as it transfers money to everyone over the age of 60 years, thus creating a form of social pension.
Help Age International has published a brief outlining the perceptions of recipients, their families and the community towards the pension, and the impacts which have been observed on areas such as nutrition, health, education and the local economy.
It also outlines the practical benefits and challenges of implementing the scheme.
Older people interviewed as part of the study described a range of ways in which the relatively small pension had improved their lives. Top of the list was having more money to buy food, and recipients and non-recipients alike highlighted the nutritional impact of the pension. The researchers found that the pensions helped the entire family, and had a huge impact on children – boosting their nutrition and school attendance.
The Help Age study finds that, while there are still some technical glitches to iron out, the model being used in Katete is popular, administratively simple and cost-effective – making it a good option for scaling up to national level.