Making Cash Count

Together with Save the Children UK and HelpAge International, IDS conducted a study for UNICEF of cash transfer schemes in east and southern Africa, with a focus on supporting the most vulnerable children and households. The study was part of a broader review of social protection initiatives to support children in the region, the other two components being education and public works programmes.

The cash transfers review covered 15 countries and four case study programmes were examined in more depth in Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zambia.

The study found that there is a positive trend towards providing cash-based social protection in countries where formal social security systems are weak or non-existent, due to fiscal or administrative constraints, and concluded that this is an important antidote to the dangers of food aid dependency in this chronically vulnerable region. However, the study cautioned against scaling up innovative pilot cash transfer schemes too quickly. The evidence base for successful design and positive impacts of such schemes is very limited, and the risk that a corruption scandal or donor fatigue causes the programme to close is that thousands of very poor people will lose their access to regular cash transfers, on which they have come to depend.

Project details

start date
22 January 2005
end date
22 December 2005


About this project

Programmes and centres
Centre for Social Protection


Stephen Devereux

Research Fellow

Recent work