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Social protection - cash transfers

Social protection has significant positive impacts for poor and vulnerable children and their families. Cash transfers – regular, predictable payments of cash - are an important social protection modality. Research shows that cash transfers promote economic empowerment, while decreasing poverty and food insecurity. Our research goes beyond this to find out if and how cash transfers can be used more effectively to impact other aspects of people’s lives. Innocenti’s work on cash transfers forms part of an inter-agency research and learning initiative called the Transfer Project.

A collaboration between UNICEF, FAO, University of North Carolina, and UNICEF country offices, the Transfer Project provides rigorous evidence on the impact of large-scale, typically unconditional national cash transfer programs in sub-Saharan Africa and countries in the Middle East. The project provides technical assistance in the design, implementation and analysis of Government programs in over a dozen countries. The Transfer Project disseminates results to national and international stakeholders and holds a bi-annual workshop to promote cross-country learning and capacity building.

The Transfer Project is a thought leader on cash transfers in Africa, with over a decade’s research. Findings indicate that cash transfers can:

However, numerous evidence gaps exist, including on promising ‘cash-plus’ designs, on long-term impacts and if impacts are transferable to fragile and humanitarian settings. Future Transfer Project studies will help to close these gaps.

Social protection - cash transfers

Social protection has significant positive impacts for poor and vulnerable children and their families. Cash transfers – regular, predictable payments of cash - are an important social protection modality. Research shows that cash transfers promote economic empowerment, while decreasing poverty and food insecurity. Our research goes beyond this to find out if and how cash transfers can be used more effectively to impact other aspects of people’s lives. Innocenti’s work on cash transfers forms part of an inter-agency research and learning initiative called the Transfer Project.

A collaboration between UNICEF, FAO, University of North Carolina, and UNICEF country offices, the Transfer Project provides rigorous evidence on the impact of large-scale, typically unconditional national cash transfer programs in sub-Saharan Africa and countries in the Middle East. The project provides technical assistance in the design, implementation and analysis of Government programs in over a dozen countries. The Transfer Project disseminates results to national and international stakeholders and holds a bi-annual workshop to promote cross-country learning and capacity building.

The Transfer Project is a thought leader on cash transfers in Africa, with over a decade’s research. Findings indicate that cash transfers can:

  • increase household productive capacity and resilience;
  • create household and local economy spill overs;
  • increase school enrollment and attendance;
  • improve mental health and life satisfaction;
  • delay sexual debut and reduce intimate partner violence, among others.

However, numerous evidence gaps exist, including on promising ‘cash-plus’ designs, on long-term impacts and if impacts are transferable to fragile and humanitarian settings. Future Transfer Project studies will help to close these gaps.

LATEST PUBLICATIONS

Rigorous research in humanitarian settings is possible when researchers and programmers work together, particularly in the early stages when responses to humanitarian challenges are designed. Six new rigorous research studies from five countries: Ecuador, Mali, Niger, Lebanon and Yemen illustrate this point.

Cash transfers have been successful in reducing food insecurity, increasing consumption, building resiliency against economic shocks, improving productivity and increasing school enrolment. Despite the many successes of cash transfer programmes, they can also fall short of achieving longer-term and second-order impacts related to nutrition, learning and health outcomes. A recent study highlights how so-called ‘Cash Plus’ programmes, which offer additional components or linkages to existing services on top of regular cash payments, may help address such shortcomings.

AUTHOR(S)

Keetie Roelen; Tia Palermo; Leah Prencipe

This report presents the evaluation design and baseline findings from a 24-month, mixed methods study to provide evidence on the potential for an additional plus component targeted to youth that is layered on top of the Government of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net to improve future economic opportunities for youth and facilitate their safe transitions to adulthood. This pilot study is based on the recognition that cash alone is rarely sufficient to mitigate all risks and vulnerabilities youth face or to overcome structural barriers to education, delayed marriage and pregnancy, and other safe transitions. The model the intervention follows was informed by a workshop held in Tanzania in February 2016 with government, researchers and development partners.

This report provides endline findings from an 18-month (2015-2017), mixed methods study to provide evidence on the effects that the Government of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net has had on youth well-being and the transition to adulthood. The study was led by UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in collaboration with REPOA. Results of this evaluation can help assess what other measures or interventions are necessary to improve adolescent and youth well-being and how these can complement and provide synergies with the government’s institutionalized social protection strategy.

AUTHOR(S)

Ana Maria Buller; Amber Peterman; Meghna Ranganathan; Alexandra Bleile; Melissa Hidrobo; Lori Heise

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

MORE PUBLICATIONS

Project team

Jose Cuesta; Lusajo Kajula; Richard de Groot; Jacobus De Hoop; Maja Gavrilovic; Valeria Groppo; Angie Lee; Michelle Mills; Luisa Natali; Frank Octhere; Tia Palermo; Amber Peterman; Leah Prencipe; Elsa Valli; Jennifer Waidler


Partner organizations

FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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

Seven strategies for government cash transfers from marketing-savvy NGOs

Measuring taboo topics: List randomization for research on gender-based violence

Opening the black box: Cash transfers and post-intervention research

No Lost Generation: Cash transfers for displaced Syrian children in Lebanon

Mind the gender gap: How can a gender-norm lens improve social protection outcomes for adolescents?

Cash support: a new tool to decrease Intimate Partner Violence?

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


Lebanon Min Ila project brief

No lost generation (MIN ILA) child-focused humanitarian safety net


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


RESEARCH WATCH

Social Protection in Emergency Situations


Conferences & Meetings

Social Protection “Plus” Workshop

Social Protection and Childhood Violence: Expert Roundtable

The Transfer Project Workshop 2016