Myth-busting? Confronting Six Common Perceptions about Unconditional Cash Transfers as a Poverty Reduction Strategy in Africa

Organization(s): FAO, UNICEF
Author: Amber Peterman, Audrey Pereira, Benjamin Davis, Jennifer Yablonski, Silvio Daidone, Sudhanshu Handa, Tia Palermo
Regions: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2017
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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.

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Access to Accountability Mechanisms and Effective Remedies

A human rights-based approach to social protection requires that policy makers, programme administrators and others whose actions have an impact on a programme should be held accountable for their actions. To meet this human rights requirement, social protection programmes should have mechanisms to collect and process complaints, in particular to review eligibility for the programme, […]

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