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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Places and Spaces: Environments and children’s well-being
SPOTLIGHT

Places and Spaces: Environments and children’s well-being

Report Card 17 explores how 43 OECD/EU countries are faring in providing healthy environments for children. Do children have clean water to drink? Do they have good-quality air to breathe? Are their homes free of lead and mould? How many children live in overcrowded homes? How many have access to green play spaces, safe from road traffic? Data show that a nation’s wealth does not guarantee a healthy environment. Far too many children are deprived of a healthy home, irreversibly damaging their current and future well-being. Beyond children’s immediate environments, over-consumption in some of the world’s richest countries is destroying children’s environments globally. This threatens both children worldwide and future generations. To provide all children with safe and healthy environments, governments, policymakers, businesses and all stakeholders are called to act on a set of policy recommendations.
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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

AUTHOR(S)
Keetie Roelen; Stephen Devereux; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Bruno Martorano; Tia Palermo; Luigi Peter Ragno

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

AUTHOR(S)
Michelle Mills; Gean Spektor; Max Terzini

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? Confronting Six Common Perceptions about Unconditional Cash Transfers as a Poverty Reduction Strategy in Africa
Myth-busting? Confronting Six Common Perceptions about Unconditional Cash Transfers as a Poverty Reduction Strategy in Africa

AUTHOR(S)
Sudhanshu Handa; Silvio Daidone; Amber Peterman; Benjamin Davis; Audrey Pereira; Tia Palermo; Jennifer Yablonski

Published: 2017 Innocenti Working Papers

 

In this paper we summarize evidence on six perceptions associated with cash transfer programming, using eight rigorous evaluations conducted on large-scale government unconditional cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa, under the Transfer Project. Specifically, we investigate if transfers: 1) induce higher spending on alcohol or tobacco; 2) are fully consumed (rather than invested); 3) create dependency (reduce participation in productive activities); 4) increase fertility; 5) lead to negative community-level economic impacts (including price distortion and inflation), and 6) are fiscally unsustainable. We present evidence refuting each claim, leading to the conclusion that these perceptions – insofar as they are utilized in policy debates – undercut potential improvements in well-being and livelihood strengthening among the poor, which these programmes can bring about in sub-Saharan Africa, and globally. We conclude by underscoring outstanding research gaps and policy implications for the continued expansion of unconditional cash transfers in the region and beyond.

 

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 40 | Thematic area: Social Policies | Tags: africa, cash transfers, social safety nets
Cash for Women’s Empowerment? A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme
Cash for Women’s Empowerment? A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme

AUTHOR(S)
Juan Bonilla; Rosa Castro Zarzur; Sudhanshu Handa; Claire Nowlin; Amber Peterman; Hannah Ring; David Seidenfeld

Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

This paper reports findings from a mixed-methods evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme, a poverty-targeted, unconditional transfer given to mothers or primary caregivers of young children aged 0 to 5. Qualitatively, we found that changes in intrahousehold relationships were limited by entrenched gender norms, which indicate men as heads of household and primary decision-makers. However, women’s narratives showed the transfer did increase overall household well-being because they felt increased financial empowerment and were able to retain control over transfers for household investment and savings for emergencies. The study found that women in beneficiary households were making more sole and joint decisions, although impacts translated into relatively modest increases.

Prevention, Protection, and Production: Evidence from the Zambian Child Grant Programme
Prevention, Protection, and Production: Evidence from the Zambian Child Grant Programme

AUTHOR(S)
Audrey Pereira

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

The majority of cash transfers in developing countries focus on conditional cash transfers and typically include beneficiary co-responsibilities as a condition for receiving transfers, such as children’s school attendance or growth-monitoring visits. However, in sub-Saharan Africa cash transfer programmes are mostly unconditional, and have the potential to impact households across a wider range of social and productive domains. This Brief summarizes the Zambian Child Grant Programme and looks at the impacts on recipient households.

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.

Cash Transfers Improve the Mental Health and Well-being of Youth: Evidence from the Kenyan Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children
Cash Transfers Improve the Mental Health and Well-being of Youth: Evidence from the Kenyan Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children

AUTHOR(S)
Audrey Pereira

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

Approximately half of all mental health disorders begin by age 14, and three-quarters by age 24. Among adolescents, depression is one of the leading contributors to morbidity, while suicide and interpersonal violence are among the leading causes of mortality. Mental ill-health also reinforces poverty through decreased productivity and loss of earnings, increased health expenditures, and social stigma. Since the evidence on the effects of poverty-alleviation programmes on mental health have been inconclusive, there is a need for research on specific poverty-alleviation interventions for vulnerable groups who are more at risk for poor mental well-being.

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

AUTHOR(S)
Luisa Natali; Sudhanshu Handa; Amber Peterman; David Seidenfeld; Gelson Tembo

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.

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.

Ghana LEAP 1000 Impact Evaluation: Overview of Study Design
Ghana LEAP 1000 Impact Evaluation: Overview of Study Design

AUTHOR(S)
Richard de Groot

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

Sharing of good, practical research practices and lessons learned from development and humanitarian contexts is in high demand not only within UNICEF, but also in the broader international development and humanitarian community, ‘Impact Evaluation in the Field’ complements other methodological briefs by discussing how textbook approaches are applied in often challenging, under-resourced development contexts as well as the innovative solutions that are needed to ensure that practical demands do not compromise methodological rigour. The series will grow over time, allowing UNICEF staff and partners to share new experiences and approaches as they emerge from applied research. The overarching aim is to contribute to strengthening capacity in research and evaluation, improving UNICEF and partners’ ability to provide evidence-based, strategic, long-term solutions for children. This brief documents the impact evaluation design of the Ghana Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) 1000 programme which is being piloted in ten districts in two regions and targets about 6,000 households initially.

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Return on Knowledge: How international development agencies are collaborating to deliver impact through knowledge, learning, research and evidence
Publication

Return on Knowledge: How international development agencies are collaborating to deliver impact through knowledge, learning, research and evidence

Effective collaboration around knowledge management and organizational learning is a key contributor to improving the impact of international development work for the world’s most vulnerable people. But how can it be proven? With only 10 years from the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals, nine of the world’s most influential agencies set out to show to the connection between the use of evidence, knowledge and learning and a better quality of human life. This book – a synthesis of stories, examples and insights that demonstrate where and how these practices have made a positive impact on development programming – is the result of the Multi-Donor Learning Partnership (MDLP), a collective effort to record the ways each of these organizations have leveraged intentional, systematic and resourced approaches to knowledge management and organizational learning in their work.
Gender Solutions: Capturing the impact of UNICEF’s gender equality evidence investments (2014–2021)
Publication

Gender Solutions: Capturing the impact of UNICEF’s gender equality evidence investments (2014–2021)

UNICEF has undertaken hundreds of gender evidence generation activities, supporting programmatic action, advocacy work and policymaking. The Gender Solutions project aims to draw together the knowledge, innovations and impacts of gender evidence work conducted by UNICEF offices since the first UNICEF Gender Action Plan was launched in 2014. A desk review identified over 700 gender-related UNICEF research, evaluation and data evidence generation activities since 2014. Twenty-five outputs were shortlisted because of their high quality and (potential for) impact and three were selected as Gender Evidence Award winners by an external review panel. By capturing the impact of this broad body of work, Gender Solutions aims to showcase UNICEF’s evidence investments, reward excellence and inform the rollout of the UNICEF Gender Policy 2021–2030 and Action Plan 2022–2025.
Annual Report 2021
Publication

Annual Report 2021

The UNICEF Innocenti Annual Report 2021 highlights the key results achieved in research and evidence to inform policymaking and programming.
Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being
Publication

Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being

Digital experiences can have significant negative impact on children, exposing them to risks or failing to nurture them adequately. Nevertheless, digital experiences also potentially yield enormous benefits for children, enabling them to learn, to create, to develop friendships, and to build worlds. While global efforts to deepen our understanding of the prevalence and impact of digital risks of harm are burgeoning – a development that is both welcome and necessary – less attention has been paid to understanding and optimizing the benefits that digital technology can provide in supporting children’s rights and their well-being. Benefits here refer not only to the absence of harm, but also to creating additional positive value. How should we recognize the opportunities and benefits of digital technology for children’s well-being? What is the relationship between the design of digital experiences – in particular, play-centred design – and the well-being of children? What guidance and measures can we use to strengthen the design of digital environments to promote positive outcomes for children? And how can we make sure that children’s insights and needs form the foundation of our work in this space? These questions matter for all those who design and promote digital experiences, to keep children safe and happy, and enable positive development and learning. These questions are particularly relevant as the world shifts its attention to emerging digital technologies and experiences, from artificial intelligence (AI) to the metaverse, and seeks to understand their impact on people and society. To begin to tackle these questions, UNICEF and the LEGO Group initiated the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) project in partnership with the Young and Resilient Research Centre at Western Sydney University; the CREATE Lab at New York University; the Graduate Center, City University of New York; the University of Sheffield; the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child; and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. The research is funded by the LEGO Foundation. The partnership is an international, multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral collaboration between organizations that believe the design and development of digital technology should support the rights and well-being of children as a primary objective – and that children should have a prominent voice in making this a reality. This project’s primary objective is to develop, with children from around the world, a framework that maps how the design of children’s digital experiences affects their well-being, and to provide guidance as to how informed design choices can promote positive well-being outcomes.

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