The Household and Individual-level Economic Impacts of Cash Transfer Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa

Synthesis Report

image of The Household and Individual-level Economic Impacts of Cash Transfer Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa

This report synthesizes the analysis and findings of a set of seven country impact evaluation studies that explore the impact of cash transfer programmes on household economic decision-making, productive activities and labour allocation in sub-Saharan Africa. The seven countries are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Results from seven recently completed rigorous impact evaluations of government-run unconditional social cash transfer programmes in sub-Saharan Africa show that these programmes have significant positive impacts on the livelihoods of beneficiary households. In Zambia, the Child Grant programme had large and positive impacts across an array of income generating activities. The impact of the programmes in Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi and Zimbabwe were more selective in nature, while the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty programme in Ghana had fewer direct impacts on productive activities, and more on various dimensions of risk management.



Cash transfer programmes and their potential productive impact

The basic characteristics of the seven government-run cash transfer programmes covered in the paper can be found in Table 1. Most of them provide cash without any explicit conditions on their receipt, although in some cases there appears to be either some messaging or soft conditions. For example, in Lesotho the transfer is provided with messaging on the importance of children’s needs like food, clothes, shoes, school uniforms and related expenses (Oxford Policy Management, 2014; Pellerano et al., 2014). In Malawi a bonus payment is provided for schooling, highlighting the emphasis on investment in children. In Ghana, caretakers of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) are supposed to register the children and ensure they are enrolled in school, but these conditions are not applied (Oxford Policy Management, 2013). While the cash remains unconditional, for reasons discussed more fully below such messages might have an impact on the use of transfer funds.


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