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Cash transfers offer autonomy to recipients - research

Recipients felt more respected when they received cash transfers instead of traditional aid programmes

In Summary

• Government safety net programme consists of four cash transfer routes.

• Unconditional cash transfers perform just as well as common aid programs.

Murang’a woman representative Sabina Chege, Social Security PS Susan Mochache and Ahadi Kenya CEO Stanley Kamau during a handover of money from the cash transfer programme for the elderly.
Murang’a woman representative Sabina Chege, Social Security PS Susan Mochache and Ahadi Kenya CEO Stanley Kamau during a handover of money from the cash transfer programme for the elderly.
Image: ALICE WAITHERA

There is need for more State cash aid transfers  to promote development and self-governance.

Research by Busara Center for Behavioral Economics in Nairobi shows cash transfers for aid are more effective at building feelings of autonomy and respect among its recipients.

The research titled "The impact of recipient choice on aid effectiveness", says several common development programmes including agricultural extension, subsidized agricultural inputs and poultry transfers have equal impact to unconditional cash transfers.

In Kenya, the government’s safety net programme consists of four government cash transfer programmes including Cash transfer Programme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC), Older Persons Cash transfer, Persons with Severe Disabilities Cash transfer and the Hunger Safety Net Programme.

“The research also shows that unconditional cash transfers perform just as well as common aid programs in terms of the economic impact on the recipient. Furthermore, recipients felt more respected when they received cash transfers instead of traditional aid programs,” Jeremy Shapiro, an adviser to the center said.

In the past three decades, cash transfer programs have reached an estimated 700 million people, representing a change in the philosophy of aid.

Whereas aid has historically focused on meeting needs of the poor as perceived by the aid community, cash transfers enable aid recipients to meet needs as perceived by themselves.

“The policy implications of this research are that aid organizations should avoid costly program overhead costs when cash transfers are likely to be as effective. It is also vital that a recipient’s subjective experience with aid should be considered in assessing the overall impact of aid,” he added.