Comparative Impacts of Input Subsidies, Irrigation Investments, and Social Cash Transfers on Food and Nutrition Security in Malawi

This study examines the impact of farm input subsidies, food and cash transfers, and irrigation investments on the dietary diversity, food consumption scores, and coping strategy index in Malawi. Despite the potential for synergies to address a range of vulnerabilities affecting food consumption, very few studies focus on combined program effects. The analysis employs three-waves of integrated household panel surveys for Malawi from 2013, 2016, and 2019, and uses instrumental variable Poisson and Tobit regression to address endogeneity. The findings show weak joint program participation effects, which may be due to program design or data limitations in this evaluation. Households that receive food and cash transfers showed improvements in diet diversity and the food consumption score. Input subsidies were less effective in helping households cope with food insecurity and reduced diet diversity and the food consumption score. This suggests that overreliance on agricultural input subsidies may lead to reduced variety in food consumption. Policies that are aimed at more linkages between programs should also diversity and rebalance public spending to reduce food and nutrition insecurity.