The experience of cash transfers in alleviating childhood poverty in South Africa: mothers' experiences of the Child Support Grant.
ABSTRACT: Cash transfer (CT) programmes are increasingly being used as policy instruments to address child poverty and child health outcomes in developing countries. As the largest cash-transfer programme in Africa, the South African Child Support Grant (CSG) provides an important opportunity to further understand how a CT of its kind works in a developing country context. We explored the experiences and views of CSG recipients and non-recipients from four diverse settings in South Africa. Four major themes emerged from the data: barriers to accessing the CSG; how the CSG is utilised and the ways in which it makes a difference; the mechanisms for supplementing the CSG; and the impact of not receiving the grant. Findings show that administrative factors continue to be the greatest barrier to CSG receipt, pointing to the need for further improvements in managing queues, waiting times and coordination between departments for applicants trying to submit their applications. Many recipients, especially those where the grant was the only source of income, acknowledged the importance of the CSG, while also emphasising its inadequacy. To maximise their impact, CT programmes such as the CSG need to be fully funded and form part of a broader basket of poverty alleviation strategies.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Cash transfer programmes targeting children are considered an effective strategy for addressing child poverty and for improving child health outcomes in developing countries. In South Africa, the Child Support Grant (CSG) is the largest cash transfer programme targeting children from poor households. The present paper investigates the association of the duration of CSG receipt with child growth at 2 years in three diverse areas of South Africa. DESIGN:The study analysed data on CSG receipt and anthropometric measurements from children. Predictors of stunting were assessed using a backward regression model. SETTING:Paarl (peri-urban), Rietvlei (rural) and Umlazi (urban township), South Africa, 2008. SUBJECTS:Children (n 746), median age 22 months. RESULTS:High rates of stunting were observed in Umlazi (28 %), Rietvlei (20 %) and Paarl (17 %). Duration of CSG receipt had no effect on stunting. HIV exposure (adjusted OR=2·30; 95 % CI 1·31, 4·03) and low birth weight (adjusted=OR 2·01, 95 % CI 1·02, 3·96) were associated with stunting, and maternal education had a protective effect on stunting. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings suggest that, despite the presence of the CSG, high rates of stunting among poor children continue unabated in South Africa. We argue that the effect of the CSG on nutritional status may have been eroded by food price inflation and limited progress in the provision of other important interventions and social services.
Project description:Child cash transfers are increasingly recognised for their potential to reduce poverty and improve health outcomes. South Africa's child support grant (CSG) constitutes the largest cash transfer in the continent. No studies have been conducted to look at factors associated with successful receipt of the CSG. This paper reports findings on factors associated with CSG receipt in three settings in South Africa (Paarl in the Western Cape Province, and Umlazi and Rietvlei in KwaZulu-Natal).This study used longitudinal data from a community-based cluster-randomized trial (PROMISE EBF) promoting exclusive breastfeeding by peer-counsellors in South Africa (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00397150). 1148 mother-infant pairs were enrolled in the study and data on the CSG were collected at infant age 6, 12, 24 weeks and 18-24 months. A stratified cox proportional hazards regression model was fitted to the data to investigate factors associated with CSG receipt.Uptake of the CSG amongst eligible children at a median age of 22 months was 62% in Paarl, 64% in Rietvlei and 60% in Umlazi. Possessing a birth certificate was found to be the strongest predictor of CSG receipt (HR 3.1, 95% CI: 2.4 -4.1). Other factors also found to be independently associated with CSG receipt were an HIV-positive mother (HR 1.2, 95% CI: 1.0-1.4) and a household income below R1100 (HR1.7, 95% CI: 1.1 -2.6).Receipt of the CSG was sub optimal amongst eligible children showing administrative requirements such as possessing a birth certificate to be a serious barrier to access. In the spirit of promoting and protecting children's rights, more efforts are needed to improve and ease access to this cash transfer program.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Mental health and poverty are strongly interlinked. There is a gap in the literature on the effects of poverty alleviation programmes on mental health. We aim to fill this gap by studying the effect of an exogenous income shock generated by the Child Support Grant, South Africa's largest Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) programme, on mental health. METHODS:We use biennial data on 10,925 individuals from the National Income Dynamics Study between 2008 and 2014. We exploit the programme's eligibility criteria to estimate instrumental variable Fixed Effects models. RESULTS:We find that receiving the Child Support Grant improves adult mental health by 0.822 points (on a 0-30 scale), 4.1% of the sample mean. CONCLUSION:Our findings show that UCT programmes have strong mental health benefits for the poor adult population.
Project description:Food security and good nutrition are key determinants of child well-being. There is strong evidence that cash transfers such as South Africa's Child Support Grant (CSG) have the potential to help address some of the underlying drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition by providing income to caregivers in poor households, but it is unclear how precisely they work to affect child well-being and nutrition. We present results from a qualitative study conducted to explore the role of the CSG in food security and child well-being in poor households in an urban and a rural setting in South Africa. SETTING:Mt Frere, Eastern Cape (rural area); Langa, Western Cape (urban township). PARTICIPANTS:CSG recipient caregivers and community members in the two sites . We conducted a total of 40 in-depth interviews with mothers or primary caregivers in receipt of the CSG for children under the age of 5 years. In addition, five focus group discussions with approximately eight members per group were conducted. Data were analysed using manifest and latent thematic content analysis methods. RESULTS:The CSG is too small on its own to improve child nutrition and well-being. Providing for children's diets and nutrition competes with other priorities that are equally important for child well-being and nutrition. CONCLUSIONS:In addition to raising the value of the CSG so that it is linked to the cost of a nutritious basket of food, more emphasis should be placed on parallel structural solutions that are vital for good child nutrition outcomes and well-being, such as access to free quality early child development services that provide adequate nutritious meals, access to adequate basic services and the promotion of appropriate feeding, hygiene and care practices.
Project description:There is a gap in the literature in understanding how cash transfer programmes affect mental health. We aim to fill this gap by conceptualising and estimating the mediation effects of an unconditional cash transfer programme on mental health. We use a sample of 4,535 adults living below the South African poverty line in four waves (2008-2014) of the South African National Income Dynamics Study. We use information on individual exposure to South Africa's largest unconditional cash transfer programme, the Child Support Grant. Mental health is measured by the 10-item version of the Centre for Epidemiological Depression Scale. We use the product of the coefficient method for the mediation analysis in combination with instrumental variable estimation. We find that physical health and lifestyle factors mediate the relationship of the unconditional cash transfer programme, each explaining about eight percent and 16% of the total positive effect. Our findings show that individuals living in poverty make investment decisions that are positive for their mental health, which has strong implications for policy makers.
Project description:This field study investigated the consequences of receiving poverty aid through conditional transfer programmes in the form of autonomy-oriented help (i.e., cash) or dependency-oriented help (i.e., vouchers) in impoverished rural communities in Panama. The empowering effects of autonomy- (vs. dependency-) help have so far only been studied in laboratory settings, or in settings where help could easily be refused. Little is known about the reactions of people who rely on help for extended periods of time. This study provides insights into how aid recipients are influenced by the type of aid they receive. Results showed that, as expected, recipients of cash reported more autonomy, empowerment, and life improvements than recipients of vouchers. Training, another type of autonomy-oriented help, was positively related to empowerment, personal, and family change beliefs. These findings illustrate the benefits of autonomy-oriented help programmes in empowering people from extremely poor communities around the world, who rely on aid for extended periods of time.
Project description:<b>Background: </b>In South Africa almost 2 million women work informally. Informal work is characterised by poor job security, low earnings, and unsafe working conditions, with high rates of poverty and food insecurity. The peripartum period is a vulnerable time for many working women. This study explored how mothers navigate the tension between the need to work and the need to take care of a newborn baby, and how this affects their feeding plans and practices.<br><br><b>Methods: </b>A mixed methods longitudinal cohort method was employed. Informal workers were recruited in the last trimester of pregnancy during an antenatal visit at two clinics in Durban, South Africa. Data were collected using in-depth interviews and quantitative questionnaires at three time points: pre-delivery, post-delivery and after returning to work. Framework analysis was used to analyse qualitative data in NVIVO v12.4. Quantitative analysis used SPSSv26.<br><br><b>Results: </b>Twenty-four participants were enrolled and followed-up for a period of up to 1 year. Informal occupations included domestic work, home-based work, informal trading, and hairdressing, and most women earned <R3000 (US$175) per month. Participants had good knowledge of the importance of breastfeeding for child health. Most women planned to take time off work after the birth of their babies, supporting themselves during this time with the child support grant (CSG) received for older children, their savings, and support from the baby's father and other family members. However, financial pressures forced many mothers to return to work earlier than planned, resulting in changes to infant feeding practices. Several mothers tried expressing breastmilk, but only one was able to sustain this while away from the baby. Most participants introduced formula, other foods and fluids to their babies when they returned to work or stopped breastfeeding entirely, but some were able to change their work or adapt their working hours to accommodate breastfeeding.<br><br><b>Conclusions: </b>Interventions are needed within the social and work environment to support mothers with breastfeeding while they continue earning an income in the informal economy. The extension of the CSG to the antenatal period could assist mothers to stay at home longer post-delivery to breastfeed their babies.
Project description:How can governments and nonprofits design aid programs that afford dignity and facilitate beneficial outcomes for recipients? We conceptualize dignity as a state that manifests when the stigma associated with receiving aid is countered and recipients are empowered, both in culturally resonant ways. Yet materials from the largest cash transfer programs in Africa predominantly characterize recipients as needy and vulnerable. Three studies examined the causal effects of alternative aid narratives on cash transfer recipients and donors. In study 1, residents of low-income settlements in Nairobi, Kenya (<i>N =</i> 565) received cash-based aid accompanied by a randomly assigned narrative: the default deficit-focused "Poverty Alleviation" narrative, an "Individual Empowerment" narrative, or a "Community Empowerment" narrative. They then chose whether to spend time building business skills or watching leisure videos. Both empowerment narratives improved self-efficacy and anticipated social mobility, but only the "Community Empowerment" narrative significantly motivated recipients' choice to build skills and reduced stigma. Given the diverse settings in which aid is delivered, how can organizations quickly identify effective narratives in a context? We asked recipients to predict which narrative would best motivate skill-building in their community. In study 2, this "local forecasting" methodology outperformed participant evaluations and experimental pilots in accurately ranking treatments. Finally, study 3 confirmed that the narrative most effective for recipients did not undermine donors' willingness to contribute to the program. Together these studies show that responding to recipients' psychological and sociocultural realities in the design of aid can afford recipients dignity and help realize aid's potential.
Project description:There is promising recent evidence that poverty-targeted social cash transfers have potential to improve maternal health outcomes; however, questions remain surrounding design features responsible for impacts. In addition, virtually no evidence exists from the African region. This study explores the impact of Zambia's Child Grant Program on a range of maternal health utilization outcomes using a randomized design and difference-in-differences multivariate regression from data collected over 24 months from 2010 to 2012. Results indicate that while there are no measurable program impacts among the main sample, there are heterogeneous impacts on skilled attendance at birth among a sample of women residing in households having better access to maternal health services. The latter result is particularly interesting because of the overall low level of health care availability in program areas suggesting that dedicated program design or matching supply-side interventions may be necessary to leverage unconditional cash transfers in similar settings to impact maternal health.
Project description:The aim of this study is to assess whether the Government of Kenya's Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (Kenya CT-OVC) can reduce the risk of HIV among young people by postponing sexual debut. The program provides an unconditional transfer of US$20 per month directly to the main caregiver in the household. An evaluation of the program was implemented in 2007-2009 in seven districts. Fourteen Locations were randomly assigned to receive the program and fourteen were assigned to a control arm. A sample of households was enrolled in the evaluation in 2007. We revisited these households in 2011 and collected information on sexual activity among individuals between 15-25 years of age. We used logistic regression, adjusted for the respondent's age, sex and relationship to caregiver, the age, sex and schooling of the caregiver and whether or not the household lived in Nairobi at baseline, to compare rates of sexual debut among young people living in program households with those living in control households who had not yet entered the program. Our results, adjusted for these covariates, show that the program reduced the odds of sexual debut by 31 percent. There were no statistically significant effects on secondary outcomes of behavioral risk such as condom use, number of partners and transactional sex. Since the CT-OVC provides cash to the caregiver and not to the child, and there are no explicit conditions associated with receipt, these impacts are indirect, and may have been achieved by keeping young people in school. Our results suggest that large-scale national social cash transfer programs with poverty alleviation objectives may have potential positive spillover benefits in terms of reducing HIV risk among young people in Eastern and Southern Africa.