Social Protection for the ultra-poor

Project description

Title: Support to the implementation of social protection for the ultra-poor people in Malawi
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the British Department for International Development (DFID) 
Country: Malawi
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development
Overall term: 2018 to 2021


Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 171 out of 188 according to the UNDP Human Development Index 2018. According to the Integrated Household Survey Malawi (2012) 50.7 per cent of the population lives in poverty by national standards and 24.5 per cent is considered to be ultra-poor. In 2018, the Malawi Government adopted the Malawi National Social Support Programme (MNSSP) II. This provides an overarching framework for social protection, and currently includes three core pillars. The first pillar aims at supporting consumption needs of poor households through timely, adequate and predictable cash or in kind transfers. The second pillar seeks to build resilient livelihoods setting households on graduation pathways through inter-programme linkages. The development of a shock-sensitive social protection system that responds to seasonal needs forms the third pillar. These pillars are complemented by two cross-cutting pillars aiming to improve linkages within and around MNSSP II and systems strengthening for the overall Programme. 

The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development (MFEPD) is responsible for coordinating the MNSSP II. MNSSP II explicitly recognises the need for better coordination and collaboration in the social protection sector. In practice, however, implementation of social protection programmes in Malawi remains fragmented and insufficiently coordinated. Moreover, the Ministry lacks necessary human and technical resources to fulfil this coordinating role.

The GIZ Social Protection Programme (SPP) has been designed to address those needs and has been operational in Malawi since 2015.


The system for the implementation of the Malawi National Social Support Programme (MNSSP) II is strengthened.


SPP is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is co-funded by UK-Aid from the UK government and the European Union.

SPP supports Malawi’s Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development in implementing the Malawi National Social Support Programme (MNSSP) II through a holistic system strengthening approach that operates both on a national and a district level.

The first priority of the SPP is to strengthen the coordination for successful implementation of the MNSSP II. In order to achieve this, the formation and harmonisation of District and Community Social Support Committees is supported.

Capacity Development at the district level is the second priority of SPP. The focal activity is the development and implementation of a training course on social protection for extension workers.

An improvement of the management of MNSSP II at the district level is accomplished through the development and application of a digital Geo-Information-System (GIS) coordination tool. This tool provides a comprehensive overview of the demands and supply of the districts. The development of a Programme Implementation Manual (PIM) further ensures that the management and implementation of the MNSSP II sub-programmes follow harmonised approaches.

Applying harmonized tools to implement MNSSP II is the fourth priority of SPP. Some of the tools are the Unified Beneficiary Registry (UBR) and e-payment mechanisms for cash-based programmes like social cash transfers and public works. Another tool to improve programme efficiency and quality is a harmonised grievance and redress mechanism that allows beneficiaries of all social protection programmes to use one common channel to issue grievances and feedback on programmes.

Finally, the fifth priority area aims at creating linkages between different measures to increase the resilience of the population and to support a graduation pathway out of poverty for beneficiary households. Here, for instance watershed management measures and public works programmes are linked. While watershed management measures are suitable for increasing the population’s resilience, employment conducted within the framework of public works programmes can be useful in supporting them.


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