Feature: Malawian urban communities to benefit from COVID-19 safety funds

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 21, 2021
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BLANTYRE, Malawi, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Charles Phiri, who worked at a bread factory in Blantyre for two years until December, was dismissed along with other men because the factory was making less revenue and was forced to reduce the number of workers due to the effects of COVID-19 preventive measures.

Since then, life has been a struggle for Phiri who also supports his two siblings in Blantyre. In an interview with Xinhua, Phiri said that he has been trying to find a job in the city but no one is offering him one.

"For months, I have been trying to find a job, but it looks like my chances of finding a job are getting slimmer each and every day. I wish to start a business but I don't have enough capital for a strong business. I don't have a choice right now, the only way is to return home in the village," he said.

Phiri is among many people in urban areas who have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 prevention measures. Some of the COVID-19 preventive measures have led to job losses and some businesses have even closed.

To ease the situation, the government of Malawi is to release money for the COVID-19 urban cash intervention program which will be rolled out in Malawi's four major cities.

Earlier this month, the chief economist responsible for social protection in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, Bessie Mussa, disclosed to the media in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, that preparations are underway to start the initiative which will see 185,248 Malawians benefiting from the program.

According to Mussa, the screening process has been completed in Mzuzu and Zomba cities, and for Blantyre and Lilongwe the process is still in progress. She however disclosed that the program has been delayed because the government is waiting for a contract with mobile phone operators who are also involved in the process.

The program was initially established in April 2020 by former President Peter Mutharika with an aim of reaching out to the urban poor communities which have been affected by COVID-19. The program mainly targets child-headed families, the elderly, and people living with disabilities just to mention but a few. At least K6.48 billion (about 8.33 million U.S. dollars) will be spent each month on the program.

According to UNICEF, in Malawi, the pandemic brings an additional threat to vulnerable families whose lives have been affected due to the preventive measures put in place by the government. Enditem

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