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Child labour and social protection in Africa

Poverty is often a key driver of child labour. With funding from the United States Department of Labor (USDoL) (see disclaimer here), we explore how national social protection programmes aimed at reducing poverty, including cash transfers, affect child labour. The research is carried out under the umbrella of the Transfer Project – an initiative of UNICEF, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Using a mixed-method approach including randomised control trials (RCTs) and qualitative analysis, we studied the impacts of three national cash transfer programmes in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania.

Our findings provide a complex picture. In the very poor settings we considered, cash transfers were partly invested in the household farm. Adults and children increased their participation in the expanded agricultural and livestock activities. In some cases, aspects of this work on the household farm could be considered detrimental for the children involved. At the same time, child work for pay outside the home tended to decline and school attendance consistently improved in all three countries.

The findings underline the need to monitor unintended impacts of social protection programmes, as well as intended impacts. Our findings are influencing policies on the ground, with complementary interventions being considered in combination with cash transfers. These can enhance the positive impacts of cash and reduce potentially adverse impacts.

Child labour and social protection in Africa

Poverty is often a key driver of child labour. With funding from the United States Department of Labor (USDoL) (see disclaimer here), we explore how national social protection programmes aimed at reducing poverty, including cash transfers, affect child labour. The research is carried out under the umbrella of the Transfer Project – an initiative of UNICEF, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Using a mixed-method approach including randomised control trials (RCTs) and qualitative analysis, we studied the impacts of three national cash transfer programmes in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania.

Our findings provide a complex picture. In the very poor settings we considered, cash transfers were partly invested in the household farm. Adults and children increased their participation in the expanded agricultural and livestock activities. In some cases, aspects of this work on the household farm could be considered detrimental for the children involved. At the same time, child work for pay outside the home tended to decline and school attendance consistently improved in all three countries.

The findings underline the need to monitor unintended impacts of social protection programmes, as well as intended impacts. Our findings are influencing policies on the ground, with complementary interventions being considered in combination with cash transfers. These can enhance the positive impacts of cash and reduce potentially adverse impacts.

LATEST INNOCENTI PUBLICATIONS

This paper examines the impact of the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN) on child work and education.

AUTHOR(S)

Jacobus de Hoop; Margaret W. Gichane; Valeria Groppo; Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski

This paper reports the impact on child schooling and work of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme (CGP), an unconditional cash transfer programme targeted to households with children aged under 3 years in three districts of the country. The impacts reported here lead to the conclusion that unconditional cash transfers in Africa have significant positive impacts on children’s human capital.

AUTHOR(S)

Sudhanshu Handa; Luisa Natali; David Seidenfeld; Gelson Tembo; Zambia Cash Transfer Evaluation Team

MORE PUBLICATIONS

Project team

Jacobus de Hoop; Valeria Groppo


Partner organizations

The Transfer Project

United States Department of Labor

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Blogs

Why child labour cannot be forgotten during Covid -19


Journal articles

Cash Transfers, Microentrepreneurial Activity, and Child Work: Evidence from Malawi and Zambia

The role of productive activities in the lives of adolescents: Photovoice evidence from Malawi

Effects of public policy on child labor: current knowledge, gaps, and implications for program design

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


Power Point presentation

Cash Transfers and Child Work in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia

Cash Transfers, Productive Investment and Child Work


What's new

A new study reviews the impacts of child labour policies


Policy reports

Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme Endline Impact Evaluation Report

Tanzania's productive social safety net programme (PSSN) and its impacts on youth


Briefs

How Do Cash Transfers Affect Child Work and Schooling? Surprising evidence from Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia

Impact of the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net on Child Labour and Education

The Importance of Understanding and Monitoring the Effects of Cash Transfer Programmes on Child Labour and Education: Findings from Malawi. A Policy Brief


External website

Understanding Child Work (UCW) project website


Related Innocenti Projects

2016-2021

Cash Plus

Child labour

Child labour and education in India and Bangladesh

Social protection and cash transfers

PROJECTS ARCHIVE