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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Reimagining Migration Responses: Learning from children and young people who move in the Horn of Africa
SPOTLIGHT

Reimagining Migration Responses: Learning from children and young people who move in the Horn of Africa

The number of international migrants under 18 is rising, accelerated by complex and fast-evolving economic, demographic, security and environmental drivers. Based on interviews carried out with 1,290 migrant children and young people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, this report helps address the evidence gap on children and young people migrating in the Horn of Africa by providing a better understanding of their protective environments; their access to services and resources; and their perceptions of safety, well-being and trust in authorities and other providers. It concludes by offering policy and programme recommendations to rethink child protection approaches for migrants in the region.
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COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition
Blog Blog

COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition

In 2019, 135 million people in 55 countries were in food crises or worse, and 2 billion people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. COVID-19 has exacerbated these hardships and may result in an additional 121 million people facing acute food insecurity by the end of 2020. Further, since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 1.6 billion learners in 199 countries worldwide were affected by school closures, with nearly 370 million children not receiving a school meal in 150 countries. The paper presents the evidence on the potential negative short-term and long-term effects of school meal scheme disruption during Covid-19 globally. It shows how vulnerable the children participating in these schemes are, how coping and mitigation measures are often only short-term solutions, and how prioritizing school re-opening is critical. For instance, it highlights how girls are at greater risk of not being in school or of being taken out of school early, which may lead to poor nutrition and health for themselves and their children. However, well-designed school feeding programmes have been shown to enable catch-up from early growth failure and other negative shocks. As such, once schools re-open, school meal schemes can help address the deprivation that children have experienced during the closures and provide an incentive for parents to send and keep their children, especially girls, in school.
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Growing Inequality and Unequal Opportunities in Rich Countries
Growing Inequality and Unequal Opportunities in Rich Countries
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs
Inequality can have wide-ranging effects on communities, families and children. Income inequality (measured through the Gini index) was found to have an association with higher levels of peer violence in 35 countries (Elgar et al. 2009) and to influence the use of alcohol and drunkenness among 11- and 13-year olds (Elgar et al. 2005). On a macro level, countries with greater income inequality among children have lower levels of child well-being and higher levels of child poverty (Toczydlowska et al. 2016). More worrying still is that growing inequality reinforces the impact of socio-economic status (SES) on children’s outcomes, limiting social mobility. Concern about growing inequality features prominently on the current international development agenda. Goal 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls specifically to reduce inequality within and among countries, while the concept of ‘leaving no one behind’ reflects the spirit of greater fairness in society. But with a myriad of measures and definitions of inequality used in literature, the focus on children is often diluted. This brief contributes to this debate by presenting child-relevant distributional measures that reflect inequality of outcomes as well as opportunity for children in society, over time.
The Transformative Impacts of Unconditional Cash Transfers: Evidence from two government programmes in Zambia
The Transformative Impacts of Unconditional Cash Transfers: Evidence from two government programmes in Zambia

AUTHOR(S)
Luisa Natali

Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

Unconditional cash transfers are on the rise in Sub-Saharan Africa, with recent estimates indicating a doubling of programmes between 2010 and 2014. This brief provides an overview of the comprehensive impacts across eight domains of two unconditional cash transfer programmes implemented by the Zambian Government: The Child Grant Programme (CGP) and the Multiple Category Targeting Programme (MCP). Although the primary objective of these programmes is poverty mitigation rather than economic empowerment, we document protective and productive outcomes in order to assess whether these programmes generate transformative effects and have the potential to offer a sustained pathway out of poverty for poor households.

 

How to Make ‘Cash Plus’ Work: Linking Cash Transfers to Services and Sectors
How to Make ‘Cash Plus’ Work: Linking Cash Transfers to Services and Sectors
Published: 2017 Innocenti Working Papers

The broad-ranging benefits of cash transfers are now widely recognized. However, the evidence base highlights that they often fall short in achieving longer-term and second-order impacts related to nutrition, learning outcomes and morbidity. In recognition of these limitations, several ‘cash plus’ initiatives have been introduced, whereby cash transfers are combined with one or more types of complementary support. This paper aims to identify key factors for successful implementation of these increasingly popular ‘cash plus’ programmes, based on (i) a review of the emerging evidence base of ‘cash plus’ interventions and (ii) an examination of three case studies, namely, Chile Solidario in Chile, IN-SCT in Ethiopia and LEAP in Ghana. The analysis was guided by a conceptual framework proposing a menu of ‘cash plus’ components. The assessment of three case studies indicated that effective implementation of ‘cash plus’ components has indeed contributed to greater impacts of the respective programmes. Such initiatives have thereby addressed some of the non-financial and structural barriers that poor people face and have reinforced the positive effects of cash transfer programmes. In design of such programmes, further attention should be paid to the constraints faced by the most vulnerable and how such constraints can be overcome. We conclude with recommendations regarding the provision of complementary support and cross-sectoral linkages based on lessons learned from the case studies. More research is still needed on the impact of the many variations of ‘cash plus’ programming, including evidence on the comparative roles of individual ‘plus’ components, as well as the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour pathways which influence these impacts.

 

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 42 | Thematic area: Economic Development | Tags: cash transfers, social protection
The State of Evidence on Social Cash Transfers in Africa: Transfer Project Workshop Brief 2017
The State of Evidence on Social Cash Transfers in Africa: Transfer Project Workshop Brief 2017
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

The annual workshop of the Transfer Project, “The State of Evidence on Social Cash Transfers in Africa” focused on new challenges arising from moving from fragmented programmes to integrated social protection systems, combining cash transfers with complementary (also referred to as ‘plus’) interventions, as well as the assessment of social protection in emergency contexts.

This year’s workshop was organized through the Transfer Project by the UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office (WCARO), UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (UNC), in Dakar, Senegal, from 7 to 9 June 2017.

 Approximately 125 social protection experts and stakeholders from over 30 countries gathered for the workshop to review the rigorous evidence from impact evaluations across Africa. In recognition of the complexity of this work and the continued growth of cash transfer programmes globally, the workshop brought together researchers, policymakers, and development partners to debate, discuss and reflect on current experiences, new evidence and future directions.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 4 | Thematic area: Economic Development | Tags: cash transfers
Myth-busting? How research is refuting common perceptions about unconditional cash transfers
Myth-busting? How research is refuting common perceptions about unconditional cash transfers
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

Six common perceptions associated with cash transfers are investigated using data from eight rigorous evaluations of government unconditional cash transfer programmes across seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The evidence refutes each claim. Used in policy debates, these perceptions undermine well-being improvements and poverty reduction, in Africa and globally.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 4 | Thematic area: Economic Development
The Zambian Government Unconditional Social CashTransfer Programme Does Not Increase Fertility
The Zambian Government Unconditional Social CashTransfer Programme Does Not Increase Fertility

AUTHOR(S)
Lisa Hjelm; Tia Palermo

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

This is the first study from sub-Saharan Africa examining the relation between cash transfers and fertility using a large-sample social experiment design and reporting fertility histories of individual women. The findings are important because they provide strong evidence that a social protection programme targeted to families with young children does not create the unintended effect of increased fertility.

Unconditional Government Social Cash Transfers in Africa Do Not Increase Fertility: Issue Brief
Unconditional Government Social Cash Transfers in Africa Do Not Increase Fertility: Issue Brief

AUTHOR(S)
Tia Palermo; Lisa Hjelm

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

A common perception surrounding the design and implementation of social cash transfers is that those targeted to families with young children will incentivize families to have more children. To date, however, research on unconditional cash transfer programmes in Africa (including Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia) have demonstrated no impacts of cash transfer programmes on increased fertility. Examples are given of how some design features capable of minimizing the fertility incentive can be built into programmes.

Making Money Work: Unconditional cash transfers allow women to save and re-invest in rural Zambia
Making Money Work: Unconditional cash transfers allow women to save and re-invest in rural Zambia
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

Savings play a crucial role in faciliating investment in income-generating activities and the pathway out of poverty for low-income households in developing settings. Yet, there is little evidence of successful programmes that increase savings, particularly those that are simultaneously cost effective, scaleable and  address gender inequalities. This paper examines the impact of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme (CGP), an unconditional cash transfer targeted to women in households with young children, on women’s savings and participation in non-farm enterprises.

Findings show that the CGP enabled poor women to save more cash and that the impact is larger for women who had lower decision-making power at baseline. The results support the proposition that cash transfers have the potential for long-term sustainable improvements in women’s financial position and household well-being by promoting savings and facilitating productive investments among low-income rural households.

Adolescents at Risk: Psychosomatic health complaints, low life satisfaction, excessive sugar consumption and their relationship with cumulative risks
Adolescents at Risk: Psychosomatic health complaints, low life satisfaction, excessive sugar consumption and their relationship with cumulative risks
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers
Adolescence is a time of transitions when experimentation, risk taking and active peer interactions can be viewed as a part of the development process. Yet, for some groups of young people with reported poor psychosomatic health, low life satisfaction or unhealthy eating habits these experiences may be different. Empirical evidence is limited for recognising the overlapping and cumulative risks of adolescents’ health disadvantage and multiple externalized risk behaviours and outcomes (smoking, drinking, binge drinking, regular fighting, injuries and bullying). Drawing on the most recent 2013/2014 data of the Health Behaviour of School Children (HBSC) study, this paper examines the risks of individual and cumulative risks (three or more types) associated with being in the bottom group of psychosomatic health complaints, life satisfaction and unhealthy eating (excessive sugar consumption) across 29 countries.
Cash Transfers and Gender: A closer look at the Zambian Child Grant Programme
Cash Transfers and Gender: A closer look at the Zambian Child Grant Programme
Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

In 2010, the Zambian Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health began implementation of the Child Grant Programme with the goals of reducing extreme poverty and breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty. The impact of the grant was explored across a range of outcomes for women over the medium term (two to four years).

One of the difficult aspects of assessing this evidence is the myriad of indicators used to measure ‘empowerment’. For example, researchers have used indicators ranging from women’s intra-household decision-making to social networks, land or asset ownership, and interpret all these as ‘empowerment’, making it difficult to draw conclusions. The analysis is complemented with qualitative data to understand the meaning women and men place on empowerment in the rural communities. Although more evidence is needed to understand how cash transfers can empower women in Africa, women’s savings and participation in small businesses were seen to have increased, giving them more autonomy over cash and improving their financial standing.

Social Protection and Childhood Violence: Expert Roundtable
Social Protection and Childhood Violence: Expert Roundtable
Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

This Brief summarizes the proceedings of the Know Violence Roundtable examining the evidence on the role of social protection in reducing childhood violence hosted by UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, 12-13 May, 2016.

Happiness and Alleviation of Income Poverty: Impacts of an unconditional cash transfer programme using a subjective well-being approach
Happiness and Alleviation of Income Poverty: Impacts of an unconditional cash transfer programme using a subjective well-being approach
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

This study analyzes the impact of an exogenous, positive income shock on caregivers’ subjective well-being in Malawi using panel data from 3,365 households targeted to receive Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme that provides unconditional cash to ultra-poor, labour-constrained households. The study consists of a cluster-randomized, longitudinal design. After the baseline survey, half of these village clusters were randomly selected to receive the transfer and a follow-up survey was conducted 17 months later. Utilizing econometric analysis and panel data methods, we find that household income increases from the cash transfer can have substantial subjective well-being gains among caregivers. Households use the cash to improve their families’ livelihoods, ensuring provision of their basic needs including food, shelter, and clothing. Reduction of these daily stresses makes caregivers happier about their current situations and gives them hope that the future will continue to get better.

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Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Publication Publication

Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Italy was the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown. Children and their families lived in nearly complete isolation for almost two months. Students missed 65 days of school compared to an average of 27 missed days among high-income countries worldwide. This prolonged break is of concern, as even short breaks in schooling can cause significant loss of learning for children and lead to educational inequalities over time. At least 3 million Italian students may not have been reached by remote learning due to a lack of internet connectivity or devices at home. This report explores children’s and parents’ experiences of remote learning during the lockdown in Italy, drawing on data collected from 11 European countries (and coordinated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center). It explores how children's access and use of digital technologies changed during the pandemic; highlights how existing inequalities might undermine remote learning opportunities, even among those with internet access; and provides insights on how to support children’s remote learning in the future. *** L'Italia e’ stata il primo paese in Europa ad aver applicato la misura del lockdown su tutto il territorio. I bambini e le loro famiglie hanno vissuto in quasi completo isolamento per circa due mesi. Gli studenti hanno perduto 65 giorni di scuola rispetto ad una media di 27 negli altri paesi ad alto reddito del mondo. Questa interruzione prolungata rappresenta motivo di preoccupazione, in quanto persino interruzioni piu’ brevi nella didattica possono causare significative perdite nel livello di istruzione dei ragazzi e portare col tempo a diseguaglianze educative. Almeno 3 milioni di studenti in Italia non sono stati coinvolti nella didattica a distanza a causa d una mancanza di connessione ad internet o di dispositivi adeguati a casa. Questo rapporto analizza l’esperienza della didattica a distanza di ragazzi e genitori in Italia durante il lockdown, sulla base dei dati raccolti in 11 paesi europei (e coordinati dal Centro comune di ricerca della Commissione Europea). Studia il cambiamento nell’accesso e nell’uso delle tecnologie digitali dei bambini e ragazzi durante la pandemia; mette in evidenza come le diseguaglianze esistenti possano diminuire le opportunità offerte dalla didattica a distanza, anche tra coloro che hanno accesso ad internet; e fornisce approfondimenti su come sostenere la didattica a distanza di bambini e ragazzi in futuro.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa
Publication Publication

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa

There is a learning crisis. Fifty-three per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries are in ‘learning poverty’, i.e. they cannot read and understand a simple text by the end of primary school age. In sub- Saharan Africa, the learning poverty rate is 87 per cent overall, and ranges from 40 per cent to as high as 99 per cent in the 21 countries with available data. Teachers attending lessons and spending quality time on task is a critical prerequisite to learning. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, teacher absenteeism ranges from 15 to 45 per cent. Teacher absenteeism and reduced time on task wastes valuable financial resources, short-changes students and is one of the most cumbersome obstacles on the path toward the education Sustainable Development Goal and to the related vision of the new UNICEF education strategy: Every Child Learns. Whilst the stark numbers are available to study, and despite teacher absenteeism being a foremost challenge for education systems in Africa, the evidence base on how policies and practices can influence teacher attendance remains scant. Time to Teach (TTT) is a research initiative that looks at primary school teacher attendance in eight countries and territories in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region: the Comoros; Kenya; Rwanda, Puntland, State of Somalia; South Sudan; the United Republic of Tanzania, mainland; the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar; and Uganda. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various forms of teacher attendance, which include being at school, being punctual, being in the classroom, and teaching when in the classroom, and use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies.

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