The direct and indirect effects of cash transfer program on the consumption of nutrients: Evidence from Kenya

How does the receipt of a cash transfer impact consumption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in households? To answer this question, we use a randomized controlled trial dataset from Hunger Safety Net Program (HSNP) with 9,246 households spread across the four districts (Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir, and Mandera) of Kenya. In the experiment, HSNP treated households received a bimonthly cash transfer of about United States of America Dollar (USD) 20 relative to households in control sub-locations. Using difference in-difference specification, we find that HSNP poor beneficiary households in treated households increased (by approximately 96%, 50%, and 61%) the consumption of vitamins A, C, and beta carotene, respectively compared to those in control sub-locations. Moreover, HSNP non-poor, non-beneficiary households residing in treated sublocations increased (by about 70% and 46%) the consumption of vitamin A and Beta carotene, respectively compared to those in control sub-locations. In addition, HSNP-poor beneficiary households in treated sub-locations sourced most of their nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from the market. We rule out alternative pathways that could potentially increase consumption and conclude that a rise in consumption amongst HSNP non-poor, non-beneficiary households is due to sharing of HSNP transfer amongst social network members.