Combining cash transfers with rural development interventions: an impact evaluation of Lesotho’s Child Grants Programme (CGP) and Sustainable Poverty Reduction through Income, Nutrition and access to Government Services (SPRINGS) project
In this paper we carry out an impact evaluation of the Lesotho Child Grants Programme (CGP) and the Sustainable Poverty Reduction through Income, Nutrition and access to Government Services (SPRINGS) project. The impact assessment seeks to document the welfare and economic impacts of CGP and SPRINGS on direct beneficiaries and assess whether combining the cash transfers with a package of rural development interventions can create positive synergies at both individual and household level, especially in relation to income generating activities and nutrition. The impact evaluation design consists of a post-intervention only non-equivalent control group study, based on national administrative registry data and matches households with and without CGP based on their socio-demographic characteristics. The findings reveal a positive story from the added benefits that can be obtained by providing complementary services and support to poor and vulnerable rural households that are already benefiting from a cash transfer. By expanding their homestead gardening activities, attending nutrition sessions and being included into microfinance schemes offered by SPRINGS, CGP beneficiary households were empowered to increase their consumption and diversify their diets. This resulted in improved nutritional status of young children. The positive impacts on gardening and financial inclusion do not seem to have translated into large income gains. The study also highlights the important protective function of the CGP, which contributes to reduce the extent of child labour, allowing children to dedicate less time to economic activities.