The Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) operated several social safety nets in the 1990s, most of them targeted at households temporarily impoverished through deprivation of their normal livelihoods. One social safety net was, however, designed specifically to help those who, by reason of age, infirmity, or disability and lack of family connections, were destined to be chronically poor. This social safety net was called Public Assistance. This paper reviews the performance of Public Assistance and finds it had a disappointing performance record, with low levels of coverage of its target group and inadequate benefits for its clients. The paper examines the reasons for the disappointing performance of Public Assistance, and draws out their policy implications.
A social safety net for the chronically poor? Zimbabwe’s public assistance in the 1990s [Draft], presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, 25 pp.