Can Conditional Cash Transfer Programs Play a Greater Role in Reducing Child Undernutrition?

The paper attempts to answer the following questions: how can conditional cash transfer (CCTs) be better designed, coordinated, and leveraged to increase their impact on child undernutrition? How can best practices from nutrition interventions be applied to ensure maximum CCT impact on child undernutrition? What are the key issues affecting the potential for CCTs to become an effective tool in nutrition policy and programming? The paper is organized as follows: section two defines undernutrition and discusses the magnitude of the problem, implications for long-term human capital development, and how and when to intervene. Section three describes CCT programs, including conceptual foundations for applying conditionality's, the position of CCTs in the current development paradigm, and reasons for their widespread popularity. Section four develops a rationale for using CCTs as one of a set of tools to improve nutritional status. Section five compares the design, implementation, and impacts of CCTs in five Latin American countries (Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico). Section six explores how best practices in nutrition could inform CCT design and section seven introduces redesigned and emerging CCTs focusing on nutrition. Section eight examines some of the key issues surrounding the use of CCTs for nutrition policy, including program eligibility and benefit duration, the use of conditionality's, supply-side investments, the cost and cost effectiveness of these efforts, and institutional roles and coordination. Section nine concludes with recommendations and suggestions for further research.