Beneficiaries of Social Cash Transfer Program under the auspices of the Government of Liberia and the World Bank want the program extended in order to continue to improve the lives of rural Liberians.
The social cash transfer program which was previously funded by the European Union (EU) with technical support from UNICEF and implemented by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, is now being funded by the World Bank and has supported 6,700 labor-constrained, ultra-poor and Ebola-affected households.
The program, which has been running in six counties, seeks to support households with no able-bodied household member in the age range of 19–64 and who is not fit for work. It also tends to help persons with high dependency ratio per family.
According to the Gender Ministry, the benefit amount, which is an average of US$35 per family per month, is meant to bridge the poverty gap and varies according to family size. A one-person household gets L$ 1,800 (US$20); a two-person household gets L$2,700 (US$30); while a three-person household will get L$3,600 (US$40) on a monthly basis. Households of more than four family members receive L$4,000 (US$50) and children in foster care benefit from a per capita grant of US$10 per month.
Disbursing the funds Tuesday in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassell encouraged beneficiaries to judiciously use the money they receive to improve their livelihoods.
She informed beneficiaries that the program is getting close to completion and that it is highly important that they make use of what they receive in a way that will sustain them for a longer period of time.
The Minister however told beneficiaries that the program could continue if their direct representatives at the Legislature allocate funds that will buttress the efforts of government’s international partners.
“You need to engage your representatives so that they will work with government to raise money to sustain this program for others who have not yet benefited, to also benefit. Those of you benefiting from this cash transfer, make sure you use the money to send your children to school, do business, improve your farming activities. Those who are building houses, use the money to speed up the process,” she said.
Mr. Momoh Gankay, a beneficiary of the social cash transfer said he is very grateful for the program which has enabled him to complete his house and send his children and grandchildren to school. “I am very happy for this program. It has changed my life. Now I can send my children to school. I also have a big farm now and my house is completed,” he told Min. Cassell.
Another beneficiary, Nancy Jusu, said with the help of the social cash transfer, she has been able to improve her local business which is now helping her to send her four grandchildren to school.
“I’m very much happy about this program because Ebola destroyed lives and properties so with the help of the program we are able to get back on our feet and improve our lives. I don’t want this program to end. It is a very good thing that is helping us. Our government, representatives must make sure that this program continues to help us,” she said.
Joseph Gardio, another beneficiary, said, “Now I have a big cassava farm which I make money from to take care of my family. It is this program that helped me expand my farm. I get L$14,000 every three months and it is helping me a lot. I am very grateful to the government for this program. I pray that it continues.”
The Cash Transfer gained prominence in Liberia as an Ebola Virus Disease response among relevant UN agencies, non-governmental organizations as well as government to mitigate the impact of the Ebola epidemic on loss of household incomes and decline of livelihoods in Liberia.