Social Protection, Livelihoods and Asset Building

Past Projects

Conditional Cash Transfer Program in Turkey

The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program in Turkey targets the poorest 6 percent of the Turkish population. The objectives of the CCT program in Turkey is to increase school attendance rates for the poor, decrease drop-out rates, and increase immunization coverage and usage of health facilities. The evaluation involved analysis of large-scale qualitative and quantitative survey data and 2 in-depth qualitative assessments. The evaluation provided considerable evidence that the CCT program had substantial impacts on a number of key education and health outcomes. Qualitative assessments show that CCT has had an impact on women’s participation in society, and encourages girls’ schooling, but that social norms often overpower the impact of a cash incentive and complementary interventions are needed to make the CCT more effective. The program is well targeted in terms of low leakage, but the fact that it has not yet reached its original target of 6 percent of the poor implies large exclusions.


Programa de Educación, Salud y Alimentación (The Education, Health, and Nutrition Program of Mexico)

Publications on PROGRESA

Red de Protección Social (RPS), Nicaragua

In 2000, the Nicaraguan government implemented a conditional cash transfer program designed to improve the nutritional, health, and educational status of poor households, and thereby to reduce short- and long-term poverty. Based on the Mexican government’s successful PROGRESA program, Nicaragua’s Red de Protección Social (RPS) sought to supplement household income, reduce primary school dropout rates, and increase the health care and nutritional status of children under the age of five.

Prevention or Cure? A Comparison of Two Approaches for Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition, Haiti

Alternative Food-for-Education Programs in Northern Uganda

This study evaluates the impact and cost-effectiveness of alternative food for education (FFE) programs for improving school participation (through enrollment, attendance, and grade attainment), nutrition (anthropometry and iron status), and learning and cognitive development (on achievement tests and cognitive development tests) for primary-school-age children, particularly in the context of a violent conflict. Using a prospective randomized design, the research compares outcomes from school meals provided under WFP’s current school feeding program (SFP) to outcomes from an alternative take-home rations (THR) program conditional on school attendance being run in neighboring villages in Northern Uganda from 2005-07. The study investigates how these programs affect investments in human capital (education and nutrition) in the midst of an ongoing insurgency in Northern Uganda, where more than half of the population lived in Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps at the start of the study.

The research found that SFP increased average school attendance by 9.3 percentage points. THR had weaker average effects on school attendance, but increased attendance in the highest grades (6 and 7) by 18 percentage points. Neither program had significant effects on anthropometry for school age children, but the SFP increased height of pre-school male siblings (height-for-age z-scores) by 0.62 standard deviations, through intrahousehold redistribution of food and a pattern of preschoolers sometimes accompanying their older siblings to school to receive food. Both SFP and THR lead to 17-19 percentage point reductions in anemia prevalence among adolescent girls. This is a large and important effect on these girls, who are at risk of increased anemia at menarche. Both programs had impacts on some tests of learning achievement and cognitive development. THR had stronger impacts on a range of cognitive development tests for girls. These results suggest that school meals are more effective than take-home rations at bringing children to school. Evidence suggests this arises because the incentives for attendance are stronger when given directly to hungry children, rather than through their parents via transfers at home. The results on learning and cognition suggest that the timing of meals is not as important as previously thought; it is the aggregate amount of food resources targeted to the children rather than provision of meals at school while children are learning that achieves the desired effects on learning and cognition. These results suggest that a hybrid program that provided a small mid-morning snack at school to attract children and provided the rest of the transfer through take-home rations would create less disruption at school and achieve greater benefits across all outcomes. Further, targeting the take-home ration only to the most food-insecure households could sharply improve cost-effectiveness of the programs

Cash Transfer Pilot Project for Tsunami-Affected Households in Sri Lanka

The objective of the study is to compare food and livelihood security outcomes between households that receive food assistance and households that receive an equivalent amount of cash assistance. Comparisons of outcomes between cash-receiving and food-receiving households were made by using pre-intervention baseline and post-intervention follow-up household surveys.

The results of this study show that significant differences can emerge in consumption patterns between cash and food transfers even when the food transfer is infra-marginal. Significant differences in expenditure patterns between cash-receiving households and food-receiving households were seen only in the poorer, remoter and more conflict-ridden communities in eastern Sri Lanka and not in the relatively urbanized south. Transaction costs imposed by remoteness and conflict had the effect of eroding the value of cash transfers relative to food transfers, and for this reason, households generally preferred food to cash.

Comparing Conditional Cash Transfer Programs in Latin America

Conditional cash transfer programs (CCTs) have become increasingly popular throughout Latin America, and IFPRI has carried out impact evaluations of PROGRESA in Mexico, RPS in Nicaragua, PRAF in Honduras, and Bolsa Familia in Brazil. Improvements in dietary patterns, nutritional status, and schooling attainments are among the desired effects. The key objective of this research is to compare the impact of CCTs on food consumption across these four countries and to synthesize the evaluation results. For Mexico’s PROGRESA, the impact on food consumption was previously evaluated. Additional analyses of the impact of the CCT’s in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Brazil on food consumption were undertaken in this study. The evaluations mainly rely on pre-intervention baseline and post-intervention follow-up household surveys.

Improving Food Security and Livelihoods of the Ultra-Poor in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has some social safety net programs that transfer food to the poor, some that transfer cash, and some that provide a combination of both. Although the largest programs tend to be food-based, cash transfers have become increasingly important. To help determine the relative effectiveness of food and cash transfers, an IFPRI study examined the efficacy of both types of transfers in enhancing the food security and livelihoods of the ultra-poor in rural Bangladesh. The objectives of the study were to (1) establish the relevance of food and cash in enhancing food security of the ultra-poor, especially of women and children, in a sustainable fashion through overall improvements in livelihoods; and (2) inform and guide the ongoing social protection policy formulation exercise in Bangladesh.

The IFPRI evaluation assessed how well transfers were delivered; which transfers beneficiaries preferred; how well transfers were targeted to the neediest; what effects the transfers had on food security, livelihoods, and gender-related outcomes; and how cost-effective the transfers were. Using propensity score matching, the study evaluated the relative impacts of cash and food transfers on food security and livelihood outcomes. The study combined quantitative and qualitative methods of research; assessed impacts of four large programs on a wide range of food security and livelihoods outcomes; provided a rich analysis of gender-related issues and impacts; and evaluated operational aspects of the case study programs.

Reaching Out-of-School Children Project in Bangladesh

The Reaching Out-of-School Children (ROSC) Project has developed interventions to encourage out-of-school children to attend Learning Centers (LCs), which are called “Ananda Schools.” In 60 percent of the project areas, cash stipend or educational allowances to eligible children and grants to schools are provided. In the remaining 40 percent of the areas, only grants to Ananda schools are provided. IFPRI conducted a baseline study for an evaluation of the ROSC project. Among all education incentive programs in rural Bangladesh, Ananda school allowances appear to reach the poorest most effectively. The results suggest that combining educational allowances with higher level grants—the level currently received by Ananda schools in grant-only areas—will likely achieve the dual goal of enticing out-of-school children to school and improving their learning.

Allocation of Public Goods in Indonesia

The objective is to identify long-run factors and processes that explain pathways from poverty and poverty alleviation at individual, household, and community levels with focus on the role of public investments and human capital formation. The project uses longitudinal, household, and village surveys undertaken in 1995 and 2007 to explore the varied impacts that public investments such as roads are having on human capital formation, which ultimately contributes to poverty alleviation.

Results showed that the improvement of local spatial road networks increased returns to education especially in remote areas, increasing labor supply and migration to non-agricultural sectors; seasonality in birth weight and variations in drinking water quality affected subsequent child growth; the improvement of schooling promoted transition of occupational structure to non-agriculture; climate change is observed significant, and farmers are responding to it by changing planting timing; decentralization and democratization of public good allocation improved the poor’s access to infrastructure.

Ethiopia National Food Security Program

Ethiopia’s National Food Security Program (NFSP), combines a safety-net component aimed at closing the household food gap and eliminating distress asset sales (through public works and limited direct support), with food security interventions aimed at building household assets (especially credit). The IFPRI project evaluates the impact of the NFSP by designing a household survey in conjunction with the Central Statistical Authority (CSA) and conducting analysis on impacts on chronic food insecurity and household welfare. The research is based on a household survey conducted in the four major regions of Ethiopia in 2006 as a joint effort by IFPRI and CSA.

  • An analysis of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme and its linkages
    2009. Gilligan, Daniel O.; Hoddinott, John; Seyoum, Menberemariam. Journal of Development Studies 45(10):1684–1706.

HarvestPlus Orange Flesh Sweet Potato: Reaching End Users in Mozambique and Uganda

The primary objective of the introduction of Beta-Carotene-Rich Orange Flesh Sweet Potato (OFSP) in Mozambique and Uganda through the HarvestPlus Reaching End Users (REU) project is to reduce the prevalence of vitamin-A deficiency, particularly among vulnerable groups such as children and women. This project is in the middle of a multi-year evaluation studying the impact and cost-effectiveness of alternative interventions at achieving REU project objectives in each country. The project is measuring program impacts by designing a prospective, randomized evaluation study with baseline data collection before the introduction of the OFSP interventions and a follow-up survey after at least two years of intervention. The evaluation will examine the effects of the program on adoption of new nutrient-dense OFSP varieties, knowledge about the benefits of vitamin A consumption, dietary intake of vitamin A among vulnerable groups, and vitamin A status (in Uganda). The evaluation will consider how differences in contexts between the two countries affected these outcomes and cost-effectiveness of the interventions.

Standing Panel on Impact Assessment Project on the Impact of Agricultural Research on Poverty

The overall objective of this study was to improve the understanding within CGIAR and its partners of the relationship between agricultural research and poverty reduction, and ultimately to increase the impact of agricultural research on poverty reduction. The CGIAR’s Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA) requested that IFPRI develop and coordinate a project to strengthen capacity for poverty assessments, not only to identify the conditions under which agricultural research is a sound investment for reducing poverty, but also to improve the targeting of research priorities to the changing needs of the poor. The project is a joint collaboration between FCND and the Environment and Production Technology Division (EPTD). Two of the studies (in China and India) involve econometric analysis of secondary data. The other five studies (in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Mexico) integrate economic and social analysis, and quantitative and qualitative methods, address a set of crosscutting themes, and use the sustainable livelihoods conceptual framework.

Evaluation of the Bolsa Familia Conditional Cash Transfer program, Brazil

This program evaluated the Government of Brazil’s large-scale social welfare program. Specifically it examines the impacts of the program on household food security, human capital formation (education, anthropometric status), consumption, child labor, social capital, and household labor supply. In addition, it documents process dimensions of this program from the perspective of beneficiaries. This evaluation utilized a longitudinal design drawing on data collected in 2005 and new data collected in 2009.

External Impact Evaluation of the El Salvador Red Solidaria Conditional Cash Transfer Program

This research evaluated El Salvador’s national conditional cash transfer program, Comunidades Solidarias Rurales. The principle focus of the evaluation was to determine the effectiveness of the conditional cash transfers and the access to basic social services for health and education, in particular examining the targeting, the implementation, the impacts, and the sustainability of the program. A combination of rigorous quantitative and qualitative research evaluation methodologies were applied. The research was well received by the government and policy recommendations will feed into program changes for the next phase of the program.

Effects of Cash Transfers and Community Mobilization on Young South African Women

The main objective of this project, a collaboration between RENEWAL, the University of the Witwatersrand’s Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit (RHRU) and Agincourt Health and Population Unit (AHPU), and the University of North Carolina, is to determine the effect of an innovative, multi-level HIV-prevention intervention on vulnerability to HIV among young women and adolescent girls in South Africa.

The program compares the impact of cash transfer payments to poor girls and their households, conditional on the girls’ attending school, to community mobilization with a particular focus on changing negative gender norms and HIV-risk behaviors in young men ages 18 35 years. School enrolment, HIV risk, and HIV and HSV-2 biological markers are the main focus outcomes.