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Social protection - cash transfers

The Transfer Project is a multi-country research initiative to provide rigorous evidence on the impact of large-scale national cash transfer programs in sub-Saharan Africa. The project provides technical assistance in the design, implementation and analysis of Government programs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Programs are nationally owned and implemented by Government, and there is focus on dissemination of results to national stakeholders, as well as regional workshops to allow for cross-country learning and capacity building.

The project aims to generate evidence from largely unconditional transfers across both social protection and productive domains. Innovations in questionnaire design allow for examination of non-traditional outcomes, including safe transition of adolescents into adulthood and local economy impacts. The evaluations exploit the expansion of programs to construct delayed entry comparison groups, paired with randomized or quasi-experimental longitudinal designs. Multiple countries include nested longitudinal qualitative components to explore and explain impacts.   

Key partners include UNICEF Country Offices, the regional office of East and Southern Africa, national implementing agencies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Save the Children UK, and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

Social protection - cash transfers

The Transfer Project is a multi-country research initiative to provide rigorous evidence on the impact of large-scale national cash transfer programs in sub-Saharan Africa. The project provides technical assistance in the design, implementation and analysis of Government programs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Programs are nationally owned and implemented by Government, and there is focus on dissemination of results to national stakeholders, as well as regional workshops to allow for cross-country learning and capacity building.

The project aims to generate evidence from largely unconditional transfers across both social protection and productive domains. Innovations in questionnaire design allow for examination of non-traditional outcomes, including safe transition of adolescents into adulthood and local economy impacts. The evaluations exploit the expansion of programs to construct delayed entry comparison groups, paired with randomized or quasi-experimental longitudinal designs. Multiple countries include nested longitudinal qualitative components to explore and explain impacts.   

Key partners include UNICEF Country Offices, the regional office of East and Southern Africa, national implementing agencies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Save the Children UK, and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

LATEST PUBLICATIONS

The rise of social protection into the limelight of social policy has opened up space for understanding how it can act as a key interface between states and citizens. This paper rethinks social protection through the lens of citizenship. It considers how the design and implementation of social protection can be shifted away from discretionary and technocratic forms, to forms which stimulate vulnerable citizens to make justice-based claims for their rights and demand accountability for the realization of those rights. It puts forward a conceptual framework for social protection with three modalities through which citizens can be engaged: as shapers and makers; as users and choosers; and as passive consumers.

AUTHOR(S)

Rachel Sabates-Wheeler; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Nikhil Wilmink; Richard de Groot; Tayllor Spadafora
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is widespread globally, with an estimated one-third of women aged 15 years and over experiencing physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner during their lifetimes. Economic empowerment, or the financial standing of women, is often thought to protect against IPV, signalling sufficient economic autonomy to leave abusive situations or to prevent abuse. Asset ownership is one measure of economic empowerment, and can convey substantial agency as a wealth store, especially for large productive assets, such as agricultural land or home ownership. Despite the important implications of IPV reduction for policy and programming, evidence of this relationship is scarce.We hope this research will advance our global understanding of this potential.

AUTHOR(S)

Audrey Pereira; Amber Peterman; Kathryn Yount
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.

AUTHOR(S)

Luisa Natali
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.

AUTHOR(S)

Keetie Roelen; Stephen Devereux; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Bruno Martorano; Tia Palermo; Luigi Peter Ragno
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.

AUTHOR(S)

Michelle Mills; Gean Spektor; Max Terzini
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.

AUTHOR(S)

Sudhanshu Handa; Silvio Daidone; Amber Peterman; Benjamin Davis; Audrey Pereira; Tia Palermo; Jennifer Yablonski
The paper provides an examination of the relevance of ethics to poverty reduction. It argues that linking the shared values that define the social arrangements and institutions, which we refer to as ‘ethical perspectives’, to the emerging welfare institutions addressing poverty in developing countries provides a window into these processes of justification at a more fundamental level.

AUTHOR(S)

Armando Barrientos; Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai; Daisy Demirag; Richard de Groot; Luigi Peter Ragno
We study the impact of the Zimbabwe Harmonized Social Cash Transfer (HSCT) on household food security after 12 months of implementation. The programme has had a strong impact on a well-known food security scale – the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) – but muted impacts on food consumption expenditure. However aggregate food consumption hides dynamic activity taking place within the household where the cash is used to obtain more food from the market and rely less on food received as gifts.

AUTHOR(S)

Garima Bhalla; Sudhanshu Handa; Gustavo Angeles; David Seidenfeld
In sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest region in the world, the number of cash transfer programmes has doubled in the last five years and reaches close to 50 million people. What is the impact of these programmes, and do they offer a sustained pathway out of ultra-poverty? In this paper we examine these questions using experimental data from two unconditional cash transfer programmes implemented by the Government of Zambia. We find far-reaching effects of these two programmes, not just on their primary objective, food security and consumption, but also on a range of productive and economic outcomes. After three years, we observe that household spending is 59 per cent larger than the value of the transfer received, implying a sizeable multiplier effect. These multipliers work through increased non-farm business activity and agricultural production.

AUTHOR(S)

Sudhanshu Handa; Luisa Natali; David Seidenfeld; Gelson Tembo; Benjamin Davis
This paper revisits the relationship between income and happiness and estimates the impact of a social cash transfer programme on individual subjective well-being. Social cash transfer programmes provide consistent, non-contributory income to targeted, poor households. In Latin America, they are usually conditioned on measurable behaviours, but in sub-Saharan Africa they tend to be unconditional.

AUTHOR(S)

Kelly Kilburn; Sudhanshu Handa; Gustavo Angeles; Peter Mvula; Maxton Tsoka
MORE PUBLICATIONS

Project team

Jose Cuesta; Lusajo Kajula; Richard de Groot; Jacobus De Hoop; Valeria Groppo; Michelle Mills; Luisa Natali; Tia Palermo; Audrey Pereira; Amber Peterman; Leah Prencipe; Elsa Valli


Partner organizations

FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Save the Children Fund UK

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Videos

Addis Ababa cash transfer project workshop

Books

From Evidence to Action: The Story of Cash Transfers and Impact Evaluation in Sub-Saharan Africa


Blogs

From a human face to human emotion: valuing feelings in development

Food for thought on measuring child food insecurity

Making research count: Lessons on turning evidence into action from the Transfer Project

Cash For Free: Who's In The Driver's Seat?

Turning cash into goats. The cash transfer effect in Tanzania

Cash transfers and improved child nutrition: where did all the impacts go?

Connecting the dots between social protection and childhood violence: a neglected research agenda

Can cash transfers prevent intimate partner violence?

Cash transfers: What’s gender got to do with it?

More on Cash Transfers to Reduce HIV among Adolescents

What is the role of cash transfer programmes in achieving zero hunger in sub-Saharan Africa?

Violent beginnings: The critical window to prevent intimate partner violence

Cash transfers and fertility: new evidence from Africa

Evidence from Africa shows cash transfers increase school enrollment

Cash transfers in Africa generating evidence on the impact

It’s Payday! What a cash transfer looks like in Ghana

Doing impact evaluation in a remote region of Ghana

Giving girls a chance


Journal articles

Poverty and perceived stress: Evidence from two unconditional cash transfer programs in Zambia

Impact of cash transfer programs on food security and nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa: A cross-country analysis

Social networks, social participation, and health among youth living in extreme poverty in rural Malawi

Effects of a Large-Scale Unconditional Cash Transfer Program on Mental Health Outcomes of Young People in Kenya

The impact of Zambia’s unconditional child grant on schooling and work: results from a large-scale social experiment

Unconditional government social cash transfer in Africa does not increase fertility

How does a national poverty programme influence sexual debut among Kenyan adolescents?

Time Discounting and Credit Market Access in a Large-Scale Cash Transfer Programme


What's new stories

Major international conference on youth and gender


Country reports

Cash Plus. An Adolescent Livelihood, Health and Well-being Intervention as part of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net Programme

Cash Plus. An Adolescent Livelihood, Health and Well-being Intervention as part of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net Programme (Swahili version)


External website

The Transfer Project


Conferences & Meetings

The Transfer Project Workshop 2016

Social Protection “Plus” Workshop

Social Protection and Childhood Violence: Expert Roundtable