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