The mandate of the MCDSS is to protect and promote the livelihoods and welfare of people suffering from poverty and deprivation. The MCDSS uses different instruments and programs to achieve its vision, one of which is the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) program (initiated in 2003 in Zambia). The SCT program is aimed at the most vulnerable households and the main objective is to reduce extreme poverty and intergenerational transfer of poverty among beneficiary households. Field workers, called enumerators, originally identified beneficiaries through a ‘high touch’ and paper-based enumeration process which had an 8-week feedback loop.
Cash Transfers are regular, non-contributory payments of money provided to individuals and households. The beneficiaries receive K70 and are paid bimonthly which amounts to K140 for every payment. Beneficiary households with persons with disabilities receive double transfers i.e. K280. This aims to fight poverty and hunger in Zambia's most vulnerable communities.
The SCT has been subjected to extensive evaluation and its impacts have been documented and several positive impacts have been demonstrated to date including reduced poverty, increased food security, improved child well-being, improved living conditions and greater productivity and asset ownership.
In 2017, the MCDSS embarked on incorporating Mezzanine's Mobile Technology capability into the registration and enumeration process to:
Reduce errors, time, cost etc. associated with manual, paper-based data collection (this includes fraud or ‘ghost’ claimants).
Be adaptable or have the ability to integrate (immediately or in the future) with other programmatic areas or functions, e.g. automated payments.
Be interoperable with the MCDSS’s existing Management Information System.
Improve the turn-around time for beneficiaries to be approved for payments.
Enumerators use a mobile application to register households and determine if they are eligible for a social cash transfer (government grant).
Households are screened and identified based on the Ministry's "SCT eligibility criteria".
All households are first validated by District Social Welfare Officers before the data is made available to the data manager at the national HQ.
Data is then imported into their existing Management Information System where they identify households eligible for payments.
Once the household is identified as eligible for an SCT the Ministry will deploy "Pay Point Managers" to pay out the SCT on a monthly basis. The payment process is still a manual process managed by the Ministry.
The 1 200 Enumerators (mobile application users) went live on 25 May 2017 in all 108 districts of Zambia.
From 2003 - 2016 the Ministry used a paper-based system to register and identify households eligible for a social grant. In 14 years they registered just over 242,000 households. After a year of using the SCT Registration mobile application the Enumerators have registered over 520,000 households and 1,56 million individuals. There are 70 data points that are captured in the mobile application workflow and in total, the database already contains more than 50 million data points.