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SCTP recipients in Mzimba district, Malawi, wait to collect SCTP payments. The transition to e-payments will make scenes like this a thing of the past. Credit: Alexandra Rigby.

Digital services will enable Malawi's most vulnerable to jump time and distance

  • Jul 1, 2022

Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme, which supports more than 300,000 vulnerable households (1.2m+ people) with bi-monthly cash payments, met an important milestone last month - it began the transition from making payments by cash in-person to payments via mobile money.

Mobile money is nothing new. But the change will make life easier for recipients, who can receive payments via a basic mobile phone rather than having to travel to a distribution point - saving time and money, and makes the system more efficient.

It also means the support available to those on the programme can be expanded. 

The simple transition from cash to mobile payments opens a range of opportunities to link SCTP recipients to, and for them to be able to find and access, complementary services. Services they can access via USSD and SMS in their own languages on basic mobile phones, without the need for Apps and smart phones.

With this in mind, in June we supported Malawi’s Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare (MoGCDSW) to lead a two day workshop to brainstorm the options available against the different needs of the poorest urban and rural households. The workshop was part of the KfW-funded SCTP Lot 1 project, on which CGA is providing technical assistance to manage the operational and financial activities of the SCTP. 

Representatives from donor and non-government organisations took part in the workshop, including KfW, the EU, UNICEF, Give Directly and Save the Children, which was split into four themed sessions: Basic Services, Livelihoods, Digital Financial Inclusion and Citizen Accountability. 

Discussions focussed on opportunities for digital information, signposting and processes, and reviewing what has worked well elsewhere and if and how they could be applied in Malawi. Potential services provided could be anything from booking a health appointment or weather information to know when and what to plant to intra-Malawi remittances.

By joining the SCTP up with other services, the Government of Malawi can get vital information and services directly into people’s hands - an SMS is faster and more efficient than an agriculture extension worker on a motorbike. 

The MoGCDSW will take the results of the workshop forward and engage with Line Ministries, agencies, NGOs and private sector orgs who can provide these services, and is already talking with a big social enterprise about partnering to offer new complementary services to support livelihoods.


CGA Technologies has been working with the MoGCDSW on the Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme since 2020. As well as providing technical assistance to manage the operational and financial activities of the SCTP under Lot 1, CGA is also rebuilding the SCTP Management Information System (MIS) under Lot 2, also funded by KfW. 

Read more about the SCTP MIS platform: Code for Malawi digital social protection platform released in open source first