Integrating social protection and nutrition: Learning from six government-led and UNICEF supported cash plus programmes in Eastern and Southern Africa

Poor nutrition and child poverty remain serious problems in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). Poverty drives child undernutrition by restricting household access to foods and services, and undermining caregivers’ ability to provide optimal care for their children. Malnutrition drives poverty, as children who are undernourished have lower educational outcomes and lower economic productivity as adults. Social protection programmes such as cash transfer programmes can address child poverty and remove household socioeconomic barriers of access to nutritious foods – important enablers of child nutrition. Evidence shows that cash transfer programmes are more likely to improve child nutrition when additional (‘plus’) elements are added that address other barriers of access to nutritious foods, and barriers to the uptake of health and nutrition services and optimal child care and feeding. ‘Plus’ elements may include support for the development of kitchen gardens, referrals to health and nutrition services, and nutrition Social and Behaviour Change (SBC).