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Luisa Natali

Social Policy Specialist

Luisa Natali is a Social Policy Specialist at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti where she first joined as a Consultant in 2011. Luisa’s main research fields are Development Economics, Economics of Gender and Policy Impact Evaluation. Her research interests lie in social policy and social protection, and in particular in the evaluation of cash transfer programmes on children’s and overall household’s well-being. Most of her research is based on sub-Saharan Africa but she is also interested in the evaluation of cash-based programmes in refugee-hosting settings. Luisa has previously worked as a research consultant for the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), and UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). She has gained field experience in Zambia, South Africa, Bangladesh and Jordan. She holds a PhD and Master’s in Development Economics from the University of Sussex, UK.
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What difference does a dollar a day make? For the poorest households in Jordan, many of whom escaped conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, UNICEF Jordan’s Hajati humanitarian cash transfer programme helps them keep their children in school, fed and clothed – all for less than one dollar per day. In fact, cash transfers have the potential to touch on myriad of child and household well-being outcomes beyond food security and schooling.

We examine the effect of the Zambia Child Grant Programme – an unconditional cash transfer (CT) targeted to rural families with children under age five – on height-for-age four years after programme initiation. The CT scheme had large positive effects on several nutritional inputs including food expenditure and meal frequency. However, there was no effect on height-for-age. Production function estimates indicate that food carries little weight in the production of child height. Health knowledge of mothers and health infrastructure in the study sites are also very poor. These factors plus the harsh disease environment are too onerous to be overcome by the increases in food intake generated by the CT. In such settings, a stand-alone CT, even when it has large positive effects on food security, is unlikely to have an impact on long-term chronic malnutrition unless accompanied by complementary interventions.


Averi Chakrabarti; Sudhanshu Handa; Luisa Natali; David Seidenfeld; Gelson Tembo


More evidence on the relationship between cash transfers and child height (2020)

Averi Chakrabarti, Sudhanshu Handa, Luisa Natali, David Seidenfeld, Gelson Tembo
Journal of Development Effectiveness, 2020-3


Fast access to cash provides urgent relief to those hardest hit by COVID—19 (11 Apr 2020)

COVID—19 is wreaking health and economic turmoil worldwide. These impacts are all the more pronounced in low-income or crisis-affected ...

Administrative Data: Missed opportunity for learning and research in humanitarian emergencies? (21 Jun 2018)

Researchers discuss the strengths and weaknesses of using administrative data collected during emergencies for research on children. Adminis ...


Child labour

The UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti conducts research to identify effective policies to eliminate child labour and improve education outcomes

Social protection and cash transfers

A multi-country research and learning initiative to provide rigorous evidence on the impact of large-scale national cash transfer programmes.