The impact of social cash transfers on children

The impact of social cash transfers on children

Do cash transfers that do not specifically target HIV and AIDS patients reach more affected households?

This paper analyses the degree to which social cash transfer schemes that do not explicitly target HIV and AIDS affected persons or households reach HIV and AIDS affected households. By comparing different schemes in Zambia, Malawi and South Africa, the study identifies the main factors that determine both the share of HIV and AIDS affected households reached, and the impact achieved.

The authors find that in terms of the share of HIV and AIDS affected households benefiting from the scheme, the Zambia and Malawi schemes seem to have the highest share of HIV and AIDS affected households as a percentage of all beneficiary households. Approximately 70 per cent of the beneficiary households seem to be HIV and AIDS affected, even though they do not use HIV and AIDS as a targeting criterion. With regard to focusing on the ultra poor and neediest of the HIV and AIDS affected households the Zambia and Malawi schemes score high whereas the South African schemes score low. In the impact on children in HIV and AIDS affected households reached by the different schemes, the South African ones score highest. The generous amounts transferred by these schemes go some way to ensuring that the basic needs of children are met.

Key recommendations include:

  • what is required for this research is comprehensive empirical evidence (beyond desk studies and simulations with ‘bold assumptions’) to get to the root of this subject
  • policy makers involved in designing social cash transfer schemes in low income countries should choose between schemes that; target exclusively members of a specific ‘vulnerable group’, schemes that target all ultra poor households, schemes that target all households that are poor or ultra poor and at the same time labour constrained like the Zambia and Malawi pilot schemes, and universal schemes that do not target within a selected population group
  • for low income countries like Zambia and Malawi – who have weak social welfare systems – the findings of this work mean that implementation capacities are the main bottleneck for establishing effective social cash transfer schemes on a national scale. Schemes such as this should therefore be organised as simple, transparent and administratively undemanding as possible
  • policy makers also have to ensure that the approach they adopt is feasible according to the financial and administrative capacities of their countries.