New high-quality evidence on integrated models! A Nature paper by Bossuroy et al evaluates a multifaceted program in Niger providing cash, savings, and business training. What happens when adding a lump-sum cash, psychosocial support, or both? Positive effects were detected across treatment arms, but those with a psychosocial component were most cost-effective.

School meals are among the most popular, largest-scale social assistance programs worldwide. But are they worth the cost? Yes so, according to a rich collection of papers under the theme of “schooling for all” edited by Sandefur – with one of the chapters, by Bedasso, focusing on school meals (plus commentaries by Afridi, Sabarwal and myself).

More on children, but on the cash side: in 2007, Spain introduced a cash transfer of €2,500 to all women giving birth. Gonzalez and Trommlerova show that after 5 years, cash reduced low birthweight among children (<1,500gr) in the poorest households by 83% (and weight of their preterm babies grew by 228gr).

On a more sobering note, a paper by Sanchez-Pinol Yulee shows that Ecuador’s conditional cash transfer program, Bono de Desarrollo Humano, has negative effects on both earning and hours worked among beneficiaries. However, such effects they are not statistically significant, and the sample is quite small (105 beneficiaries only).

From LAC to Africa: in Kenya, the Mwangaza Mashinani pilot project provided a bi-monthly cash top up to around 2,000 households with school-going children in the Inua Jamii programme in Kilifi and Garissa counties. Cash was intended to purchase small solar home devices (three bulbs plus USB charging) on a pay-as-you-go basis over a year. (The pilot also guaranteed suppliers that it would pay 80% of the value of the device in case of payment defaults). While over 1600 families purchased the devices, a joint OPM, RGA and UNICEF evaluation discusses a range of limitations related to piggybacking on the existing Inua Jamii program, and found some positive impact on the number of working members and productive activities among participating families. Yet, by the end of the project impacts weren’t sustained, and “… there is no evidence that the pilot project has had an attributable impact on how women allocate their time to different activities” (h/t Alexandra Doyle).

More on the region: the report sets out a typology of social protection systems in Eastern Africa – including nascent (Burundi, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan), in-development (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda) and well-developed (none) – and then assess how those systems benefit “persons of concern”, principally displaced populations. In most contexts, such inclusion is partial (see figure on p.17) with a possible 4-scale transition pathway in degrees of inclusiveness laid out on p.18 (h/t Clare Gardner)

Going North? A short piece by Rodrik argues that “… [d]eveloped countries’ problems increasingly resemble the problems found in poor countries [and] models and frameworks used to study developing economies are increasingly relevant to the problems confronting rich countries” (h/t Michal Rutkowski).

Plenty of events! Starting next week, CaLP is offering a rich selection of webinars as part of an annual humanitarian conference, “Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week” (which is actually 18 days long). This features a half dozen events on humanitarian cash in the context of disability, coordination, blockchain and more. The compilation also involves a special series on “humanitarian cash and Covid-19: lessons for the future” exploring digitalization and remote programming (held on April 19), linkages with social protection (May 17), and localization (June 14). Bonus: this week there was a “Regional High Level Side Event on Social Protection across the Humanitarian-Development Nexus” in MENA.


Ugo Gentilini is from the World Bank’s Social Protection & Jobs global practice. The Social Protection Links newsletter, issued every Friday, distills and discusses a selection of curated resources on the topic, from academic articles to podcasts. The blog is republished on each week, offering knowledge on social protection to help you stay on top of it — succinctly, regularly and frequently. Previous editions can be found here. 

To sign up to the newsletter or share materials, you can contact Ugo by email ([email protected]), Twitter (@ugentilini) or LinkedIn.

Social Protection Programmes: 
  • Social assistance
    • Social transfers
      • Cash transfers
        • Conditional cash transfers
      • In kind transfers
        • School feeding programmes
    • Social care services
  • Labour market / employment programmes
    • Active labour market programmes / Productive inclusion
      • Job training
      • Productive / economic inclusion programmes
Social Protection Building Blocks: 
  • Programme performance / impact analysis
Social Protection Approaches: 
  • Social protection definitions and features
  • Social protection systems
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Environment
  • Health
    • Child health
    • COVID-19
  • Humanitarian–social protection nexus
  • Migration
  • Poverty reduction
  • Humanitarian assistance
  • Burundi
  • Djibouti
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Niger
  • Rwanda
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Uganda
  • Ecuador
  • Spain
  • Middle East & North Africa
The views presented here are the author's and not's