Providing social protection for ultra-poor people in Malawi (completed)

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)
Country: Malawi
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms
Overall term: 2018 to 2021


Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. It was ranked 171 out of 188 in the 2018 Human Development Index. 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 to support the 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 third pillar is developing a shock-sensitive system of social protection that responds to seasonal needs. These pillars are complemented by two further, cross-cutting pillars, which aim to improve linkages within and around the MNSSP II as well as the systems within the programme as a whole. 

The Ministry of Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms is responsible for coordinating the MNSSP II. The MNSSP II clearly recognises the need for better coordination and collaboration in the social protection sector, as the practical implementation of social protection programmes in Malawi still remains fragmented. Moreover, the Ministry lacks the necessary human and technical resources to fulfil this coordinating role.


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


The GIZ Social Protection Programme (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 Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms in implementing the Malawi National Social Support Programme (MNSSP) II by introducing a holistic system strengthening approach, which it applies at both national and district level.

SPP’s approach focuses on five prioritised goals. The first priority of SPP is to improve coordination in the efforts to achieve a successful implementation of the MNSSP II. One way in which it is doing this is to set up and harmonise the work of District Social Support Committees.

SPP’s second priority is capacity development at district level. Its main activity here is to develop and implement a training course on social protection for extension workers.

A harmonised Programme Implementation Manual (PIM) is being developed in order to improve the management of the MNSSP II at district level, which is the third priority. The manual will contain a full set of all the MNSSP II operational guidelines and will contribute towards harmonising the implementation of social protection programmes at district level.

Applying integrated tools to implement the MNSSP II is SPP’s fourth priority. These tools include 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 submit grievances and feedback on programmes.

Finally, the fifth priority area aims to create linkages between different measures to increase the resilience of the population and to support a graduation pathway out of poverty for beneficiary households. Watershed management measures and public works programmes are linked here, for example. While watershed management measures increase the population’s resilience, employment in public work programmes can provide useful support for people.

Last update: February 2021

Additional information