Evaluating Vouchers and Cash-Based Transfers

This fourcountry study funded by the World Food Programme aims to shed light on the relative and absolute effectiveness of alternatives to food assistance – in particular, assistance provided in the form of cash or vouchers – in improving household food security and other measures of well-being. While WFP’s current strategy document notes that provision of cash and vouchers has a potential role to play in addressing emergencies as well as reducing vulnerability, limited experience with these modalities relative to food assistance has held back WFP’s ability to operationalize these alternatives and select the most appropriate contexts in which to do so. The selection of countries for this pilot provides a diverse range of contexts: Ecuador, Niger, Uganda, and Yemen. In each of the four countries, interventions are being implemented according to randomized study designs that allow comparison of the food, cash, and voucher modalities. Data collected from baseline and followup surveys will allow the following questions to be addressed, among others:

  1. How do the benefits to beneficiaries from these “alternative modalities” of cash and vouchers compare to benefits from food transfers?
  2. Do these relative benefits differ across outcomes (nutrition, gender dynamics, intrahousehold resource allocation, etc.), and do certain household members (women, young children) benefit more from one type of modality?
  3. Are there differences in cost efficiency across modalities, and are there differences by modality in who (WFP vs. beneficiaries) bears these costs?
  4. If we observe differences across modalities, why do we observe them, and to what extent can we generalize lessons from these five evaluations?