Sudhanshu Handa, Frank Otchere, Paul Sirma
We present evidence on the overall impacts of state-sponsored cash transfer programmes in sub-Saharan Africa, using data from three impact evaluations of government programmes. All three programmes were a key component of the poverty reduction strategy of the respective governments at the time of the evaluations. We show effects across nine broad domains including both protection, production and human development, using baseline and follow-up household surveys on treatment and control groups. We relate the pattern of impacts to programme design parameters to further understand the constraints faced by ultra-poor rural households.
All three programmes have strong effects on their primary objective—food security or food consumption, as well as on secondary objectives that include livelihood strengthening and children’s well-being. The largest and most consistent impacts occur in Malawi, where transfer values are in line with international best practice and payments were made regularly during the study period. All programmes show a positive income multiplier, with the multiplier largest in Malawi at 2.94.
The overall results across three national programmes add to the growing evidence from Africa that government unconditional cash transfers have important positive effects on households, that these effects are not limited to just food security, and that programme design features influence the pattern and size of impacts.