Despite some improvements in recent years, poverty levels and the vulnerability of rural households remain high. Livelihood options and the resources available to rural households are limited. Most poor rural households earn their livelihood through farming or farm labour, but agriculture is seasonal and rain-fed, making it prone to climate-related shocks, such as floods and droughts, which are becoming more frequent and intense.

The Government of Malawi uses different social protection instruments to address chronic poverty and vulnerability. One such instrument is the Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP), which has been in place since 2006 and provides a monthly transfer to households that are both ultra-poor and labour-constrained. These households are unable to meet the most basic urgent needs (food and essential non-food items) and have a household member ratio of ‘not fit to work’ to ‘fit to work’ of more than 3:1 (‘unfit’ if below 19/above 64 years of age or with chronic illness/disability, or otherwise unable to work).