Zimbabwe’s National Harmonized Social Cash Transfer programme (HSCT) is an unconditional cash transfer program targeted to ultra-poor households who are labor constrained. The programme was introduced in 2011 by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare (MPSLSW). Objectives are to enable beneficiary households to increase their consumption to a level above the food poverty line, to reduce the number of ultra-poor households and to help beneficiaries avoid risky coping strategies such as child labour and early marriage. The HSCT Programme is positioned to become Zimbabwe’s primary social protection program and will eventually cover the whole country. UNICEF Zimbabwe contracted the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and its partners the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), and the Centre of Applied Social Sciences (CASS) to conduct the evaluation of the HSCT.
The Department of Social Services is responsible for the administration and management of the program. The MPSLSW is rolling out the programme in four phases. Phase 1 was from 2011 – 2012, when the program was rolled out in ten districts and the first transfer was provided in February 2012. In 2013 (Phase 2), 10 new districts were added to the program, and the rollout of Phase 2 began in three districts – Binga, Mwenezi, and Mudzi. Eligible households receive bi-monthly cash payments that range from US$10 to US$25 per month based on household size. The HSCT is jointly funded by the Government of Zimbabwe and Development Partners, through the multi-donor aligned Child Protection Fund; technical assistance is provided by UNICEF. To qualify for the Program, households must be food poor (living below the food poverty line) and must be labor constrained.