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Elsa Valli

Consultant (Former title)

Elsa Valli joined the Social and Economic Policy Unit at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti as a consultant in January 2017. She contributes to producing policy-relevant evidence mostly through impact evaluations of social protection and cash transfer programmes. Her research interests lie in poverty and vulnerability, children and adolescents’ wellbeing. In the past she worked on research projects for Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, European Union, UNRWA, USAID, and Institute of Development Studies (IDS) on poverty dynamics, food security, nutrition, agriculture, social protection and education mostly on Sub-Saharan countries but also Middle East, India and Latin America. Elsa was awarded a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex on issues related to development economics, focusing on social protection in Ethiopia

Publications

Child Marriage and Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program: Analysis of protective pathways in the Amhara region
Publication Publication

Child Marriage and Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program: Analysis of protective pathways in the Amhara region

Emerging evidence suggests that social protection programmes can have a positive role in delaying marriage for girls. But the pathways and design features by which programmes may influence child marriage outcomes remain unknown. This mixed-methods study explores whether and how the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) in Ethiopia, given its national reach and potential to address poverty, can also affect child marriage practice. It draws on descriptive quantitative and qualitative data from an ongoing impact evaluation of the Integrated Safety Net Program (ISNP) pilot in the Amhara region. It finds that PSNP, through an economic channel, is effective in reducing financial pressures on families to marry off girls and in improving girls’ education opportunities. Income-strengthening measures must, however, be accompanied by complementary efforts – including girls’ empowerment, awareness-raising and legal measures – to transform deep-rooted social and gender norms and attitudes that perpetuate the harmful practice of child marriage.
A Rapid Review of Economic Policy and Social Protection Responses to Health and Economic Crises and Their Effects on Children: Lessons for the COVID-19 pandemic response
Publication Publication

A Rapid Review of Economic Policy and Social Protection Responses to Health and Economic Crises and Their Effects on Children: Lessons for the COVID-19 pandemic response

This rapid review seeks to inform initial and long-term public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by assessing evidence on past economic policy and social protection responses to health and economic crises and their effects on children and families. The review focuses on virus outbreaks/emergencies, economic crises and natural disasters which, similar to the COVID-19 pandemic, were rapid in onset, had wide-ranging geographical reach, and resulted in disruption of social services and economic sectors without affecting governance systems. Lessons are also drawn from the HIV/AIDS pandemic due to its impact on adult mortality rates and surviving children.
Political Connections No Longer Determine Targeting of Social Protection: A successful case study from Ethiopia
Publication Publication

Political Connections No Longer Determine Targeting of Social Protection: A successful case study from Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest recipients of donor funds for development and emergency interventions. As such, its targeting of social protection has received substantial attention. In particular, concerns have been raised that political connections could play a role in determining the selection of beneficiaries. With the introduction in 2005 of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), Ethiopia implemented various policies aimed at increasing transparency in the targeting of social protection. This case study compares targeting before and during the implementation of PSNP, and shows improvements in targeting for both public works and emergency aid in relation to the dimensions of poverty, food security and political connections. Most notably, political connections are no longer found to determine the receipt of benefits during the implementation of PSNP.
Targeting of Social Protection in 11 Ethiopian villages
Publication Publication

Targeting of Social Protection in 11 Ethiopian villages

Social protection in Ethiopia is primarily allocated through community-based targeting. The few studies that have analysed the efficacy of aid targeting in Ethiopia have revealed targeting biases in regard to demography, geography and political affiliations. With the introduction in Ethiopia in 2005 of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), a major social protection programme, various administrative guidelines were introduced (and subsequently periodically revised) with the aim of improving targeting. This paper uses data from the last two rounds of the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey to investigate whether PSNP implementation resulted in changes in both targeting determinants and amount received for public works (a component of PSNP) and emergency aid between 2004 and 2009 in 11 rural villages. In general, public works appear to have been allocated on the basis of observable poverty-related characteristics, and emergency aid according to household demographics. In addition, the results suggest that, for both public works and emergency aid beneficiaries, political connections were significant in determining the receipt of aid in 2004 but that this was no longer the case by 2009, indicating an improvement in the channeling of social protection to its intended target groups. However, a household’s experience of recent shocks was found to bear no relationship to receipt of support, which suggests that a more flexible and shock-responsive implementation could improve targeting for transitory needs.

Journal articles

Impact evaluation of a social protection programme paired with fee waivers on enrolment in Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme
Journal Article Journal Article

Impact evaluation of a social protection programme paired with fee waivers on enrolment in Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme

Economic Transfers and Social Cohesion in a Refugee-Hosting Setting
Journal Article Journal Article

Economic Transfers and Social Cohesion in a Refugee-Hosting Setting