Study reveals success of social cash transfer

A two-year randomized control trial evaluating Zambia’s Child Grant social cash transfer program found dramatic improvements in the amount of food and clothing going to infants and young children in high poverty families, and a 50 percent increase in the total value of crops produced by households receiving the aid.

Experts with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) led the study of 2,515 households in Kalabo, Kaputa and Shangombo,districts with the highest rates of extreme poverty and mortality among young children.

UNICEF Zambia hired the American Institute for Research to design and conduct the study of the program’s effectiveness, with funding provided by UNICEF, Irish Aid and Britain’s Department for International Development.

Since 2010, the Zambian government has been providing 60 kwacha a month under the social cash transfer to district households with at least one child under the age of five.

The study found that among participating households, seventy-six percent of increased spending by recipients went for food %u2013 the largest share, 40 percent, for cereals followed by meats, poultry and fish, which accounted for 21 percent.

The provision of basic material necessities for children %u2013 food, shoes and clothing%u2014rose by 33 percentage points.

The study found that the number of cases of diarrhea among children five years old or younger fell by five percentage points.

The volume of crops produced on farms owned by participants increased–eight percentage points for maize and four percentage points for rice.

There was also a 21 percentage point increase in the number of livestock owned, as well as a significant increase in the types and breeds of animals.

Dr David Seidenfeld a senior researcher with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) who directed the study noted that what is particularly exciting about the results is that the immediate food needs of the recipients are being met and the money is also allowing heads of households to build a better financial base by increasing crop production or in some cases buying materials to start a micro-business.

The Zambian government has in the 2014 budget increased funding for the social cash transfer from 17.5 million kwacha ($3.4 million U.S.)to 150 million kwacha ($29 million U.S.).

This is contained in a statement issued to QFM News by the African Press Organization (APO) on behalf of the American Institutes for Research.