Mmbelwa District Council director of agriculture, environment and natural resources Ezra Mbendera says the program will greatly improve the capacity of communities in restoring degraded soils in their localities.
Mbendera was speaking on the sidelines of an orientation workshop for extension workers who will play a pivotal role in the program.
In the program, participants will be carrying out works that aim at restoring the degraded environment through public works such as land resource conservation, afforestation and natural tree regeneration.
"This is a new project and mainly its objective is to restore the degraded environment where most farming activities are not taking place because of the degradation. In this project, we want the environment restored," said Mbendera.
The program also aims at enhancing household income and food security. Participants will be getting K10 800 after working for 12 days in a month.
"As the Mmbelwa District Council, we feel this is a safety net where people will be accessing money and buy small necessities which they could not buy in the absence of programs like these," added Mbendera.
The program will target 16 catchment areas in the district where extension workers will be crucial in determining the hotspots which need redress.
The Climate Smart Public Works Program, to be fully rolled out in September, replaces the Malawi Social Actio Fund (MASAF) 4 program which was also being financially supported by the World Bank but was phased out owing to a number of loopholes in its implementation.
On concerns of fraud and delays in payments that overshadowed the MASAF-4 public program, Robbins Gausi, a capacity building specialist at the National Local Government Financing Committee, said they plan to introduce e-payments to the ease payments.
"We have taken heed of the concerns and that's why in other districts they are using the e-payment system where participants or beneficiaries get paid through mobile phone transactions,” said Gausi.
The two-year program is being implemented in all the local councils in the country targeting over 400, 000 beneficiaries.