Enhancing health-related remittances to Zimbabwe through digital

Enhancing health-related remittances to Zimbabwe through digital technology

Ndabatisa malayitsha mapiritsi amai eBP” (I gave malayitsha the BP tablets for mother). “I will send [the groceries] with malayitsha at the end of the month.” “Is your malayitsha reliable, I want to send my things home?” “How much does [the] malayitsha charge [to carry] one thousand rands?” “Did malayitsha deliver all the things I sent?”

These are common refrains one hears from many Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa. The statements, often made over the phone, carry promises of remittances to expectant relatives in Zimbabwe; inquiries as migrants search for reliable and cheaper informal cross-border transporters (or malayitshas) to transport goods and money to their families; and anxieties that haunt migrants after sending their goods (or money) with the malayitshas.

For a long time, informal cross-border transporters have been important actors in the South Africa-Zimbabwe remittance corridor, couriering all sorts of goods, and money, and people as well, across the borders, providing the convenience of door-to-door delivery even in remote villages, and enabling ‘unbanked’ migrants to also support their families in Zimbabwe. However, this way of remittance transfer has remained highly unreliable, costly, with long delays and high risks of loss.

Remittances are a lifeline for households whereby a significant share is used to cover health-related costs. Migrants also send health-related remittances through the malayitshas. But the risks and costs associated with this informal remittance transfer jeopardise the transformative potential of health-related remittances.

- By Johannes Machinya

The full article can be found here.