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The impact of the Social Cash Transfer Scheme on food security in Malawi


  • Miller, Candace M.
  • Tsoka, Maxton
  • Reichert, Kathryn


The Malawi Social Cash Transfer Scheme (SCTS) was launched in 2006 to improve food security by directly providing cash transfers to the country's most destitute households. Although government-implemented cash transfer schemes have gained popularity throughout Latin America, these schemes are just emerging in Africa. While where there is evidence of the beneficial impact of cash transfers on food security from Latin American countries, there is a dearth of evidence from resource poor countries in Africa. In order to fill this gap, we conducted a longitudinal, randomized community control study of the pilot SCTS in Mchinji, Malawi from March 2007 to April 2008. In this study, we describe the impact of approximately US$14 per month on food security among recipient households compared to control households using indicators of food consumption and expenditures and dietary diversity. We present compelling evidence, whereby each of the tested outcomes yields large effect sizes that are highly statistically significant, demonstrating a sizeable impact of cash transfers on food security and food diversity in rural Malawi. The SCTS appears to be an effective tool within the National Social Welfare Policy for improving food security in the country's destitute households.

Suggested Citation

  • Miller, Candace M. & Tsoka, Maxton & Reichert, Kathryn, 2011. "The impact of the Social Cash Transfer Scheme on food security in Malawi," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 230-238, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:2:p:230-238

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barrett, Christopher B., 2002. "Food security and food assistance programs," Handbook of Agricultural Economics,in: B. L. Gardner & G. C. Rausser (ed.), Handbook of Agricultural Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 40, pages 2103-2190 Elsevier.
    2. Candace M. Miller & Maxton Tsoka & Kathryn Reichert, 2010. "Targeting Cash to Malawi's Ultra-Poor: A Mixed Methods Evaluation," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 28(4), pages 481-502, July.
    3. Ariel Fiszbein & Norbert Schady & Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Margaret Grosh & Niall Keleher & Pedro Olinto & Emmanuel Skoufias, 2009. "Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2597.
    4. Frikkie Booysen & Servaas Van Der Berg, 2005. "The Role Of Social Grants In Mitigating The Socio-Economic Impact Of Hiv/Aids In Two Free State Communities," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 73(s1), pages 545-563, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mateusz J. Filipski & J. Edward Taylor & Karen E. Thome & Benjamin Davis, 2015. "Effects of treatment beyond the treated: a general equilibrium impact evaluation of Lesotho's cash grants program," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 46(2), pages 227-243, March.
    2. Thurman, Tonya R. & Kidman, Rachel & Taylor, Tory M., 2015. "Bridging the gap: The impact of home visiting programs for orphans and vulnerable children on social grant uptake in South Africa," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 111-116.
    3. d'Agostino, Giorgio & Pieroni, Luca & Scarlato, Margherita, 2013. "Social Protection and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Evaluation of Cash Transfer Programmes," MPRA Paper 49536, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Salazar, Lina & Aramburu, Julián & González-Flores, Mario & Winters, Paul, 2016. "Sowing for food security: A case study of smallholder farmers in Bolivia," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 32-52.
    5. World Bank Group, 2017. "Republic of Malawi Poverty Assessment," World Bank Other Operational Studies 26488, The World Bank.
    6. Lina Salazar & Julián Aramburu & Mario González & Paul Winters, 2015. "Food Security and Productivity: Impacts of Technology Adoption in Small Subsistence Farmers in Bolivia," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 87853, Inter-American Development Bank.
    7. Sharma, Ajay & Chandrasekhar, S., 2016. "Impact of commuting by workers on household dietary diversity in rural India," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 34-43.
    8. Akerkar, Supriya & Joshi, P.C. & Fordham, Maureen, 2016. "Cultures of Entitlement and Social Protection: Evidence from Flood Prone Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 46-58.
    9. Beegle, Kathleen & Galasso, Emanuela & Goldberg, Jessica, 2017. "Direct and indirect effects of Malawi's public works program on food security," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 1-23.
    10. Lara Cockx & Nathalie Francken, 2016. "Evolution and Impact of EU Aid for Food and Nutrition Security: A Review," FOODSECURE Working papers 47, LEI Wageningen UR.
    11. Independent Evaluation Group, 2014. "Social Safety Nets and Gender : Learning from Impact Evaluations and World Bank Projects," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 21365.


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