Social Cash Transfer Scheme and Livelihood Strategies. Experiences and Perspectives of OVC in Kalomo, Zambia
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The focus of this thesis is to explore orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) experiences of social cash transfer scheme (SCTS) in Kalomo district, Zambia. The research aimed at gaining knowledge on OVC experience and perspectives of cash transfer scheme for provision of basic needs, the key problems that OVC face, local conceptualisation of orphanhood and vulnerability, how OVC benefit from social cash transfer scheme, and other livelihoods alternative they engage in besides social cash transfer scheme. This thesis is informed by the theoretical perspectives of the sociology of childhood which argues that childhood is a social construct; children are social actors capable of making meaning of their lives and the lives of those around them. In addition, the thesis is grounded on the rationale for social protection and children in Africa because children have the right to social protection and that social protection contributes to poverty alleviation, inclusive growth and the ultimate potential role of social protection in enhancing families’ capacity to take care for their children. The perspectives presented in the thesis draw on different qualitative research methods such as semi-participants observation, informal dialogue, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussion and researchers’ diary with twelve OVC, four guardians/caregiver and one programme officer coordinating SCTS. The data collected was qualitatively analysed. The study revealed that OVC are locally understood in terms of socially fluid criteria such as lack of care and basic needs rather than what SCTS defines them which is based on the biological aspect of parenting. The study reveals that OVC benefit from cash transfer through the provision of extra meals to households they come from thereby able to go to school energetically and also they benefited from in-kind support such as payment of school fees and procurement of school materials particularly those coming from benefiting households. More importantly the study shows how cash is utilised for building assets that can be reinvested in creating livelihoods options and the agency of children in contributing to household livelihoods. SCT and household livelihoods strategies reinforce each other and help vulnerable households break away from the cycle of poverty. However, the findings shows that SCTS programme is underfunded and meeting education needs was the major problem faced by OVC. In addition, SCTS only covers labour constrained households, consequently this kind of the scheme need to be complemented by labour-based social protection schemes, so that all OVC are covered regardless of whether they are coming from labour constrained or non-labour constrained households. These findings have important implications for policy in terms of rethinking social protection schemes to vulnerable children in Zambia and beyond.