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Potential Negative Impacts of Cash Transfers on Nutrition Status

This question was posted the Livelihoods interventions forum area and has 12 replies. You can also reply via email – be sure to leave the subject unchanged.

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Rogers Wanyama

Emergency Nutrition Specialist

Normal user

7 Jan 2013, 06:31

Dear All

I am looking for information on the potential negative impacts of cash transfers on the nutrition status.

I would grateful if you can share with me reports/publications or even your field experience and lessons learnt.


Rogers (

Chantal Autotte Bouchard


Normal user

11 Jan 2013, 10:32


I'm surprise, no one have any cue about that? I'm really interesting to know too.


Najma Ayub

Deupty nutrition coordinator-ACF

Normal user

13 Jan 2013, 07:46

The main problems with cash transfer are sustainability problems. Because it increase dependency. In emergency context cash transfer is ok, but in recovery phases if in spite of government willingness to reform lands and agriculture sectors. It has a negative impact that we are not sure that cash transfer is used for food or for other activity, either the food choices meet the nutrition need or not, So it is better to improved food security like increase production of food, decrease import of food, and decrease rates of food commodities rather than going for cash transfer activities.

Shakeel Patrus

Programme Assistant Nutrition

Normal user

14 Jan 2013, 04:40

According to my experience cash transfer activities varies according to the geographical areas, agriculture productivity in the area and mainly involvement of the beneficiaries if women are engaged in cash transfer projects it would be produce good impact.

Dr ijaz habib

Freelance consultant

Normal user

14 Jan 2013, 06:20

Dear Roger,
I would use the term ''associated risks" rather than negative impact. Based on the global success models, as long as the social transfers (either inkind or cash, conditional/unconditional) reach the intended beneficiaries, the outcome would be positive i.e. improvement in human capital. Based on the SUN approach (Lancet 2008 evidence) the prime intended beneficiaries fall in the age range of <24months or more specifically 7-11months (the typical oval curve covering the critical window of opportunity)
Now, the Risk factor; Fiduciary risk (risk of social transfers reaching intended beneficiaries or others) has been identified as one of the major risk that contributes to failure of most social transfer programs. e.g. political motives could result in manipulation of targeting criteria's. Also, significant risk of loss from error or fraud through cash transfers programs arises from complexity in the eligibility criteria and operations designs.
Although, concerns have been raised in the theoretical literature that social transfers may have a negative effect on labour supply and savings rates, but the empirical evidence (Scott 2009), doesnt support such concerns. (e.g. brazil and south africa evidence)
We should also consider the negative impacts of involvement of international actors on the institutionalisation or sustainability aspects of the social transfers. Such international support in the form of INGOs as implementers may weaken the domestic policy debate around social assistance, and donor projects may create path dependency for future social transfer policy and would even contradict with the right-based institutionalised social transfer approaches.
You may find further relevant info on following link (


Normal user

18 Jan 2013, 10:34

In india we have raging debate on the introduction of cash transfers.
Amirtya Sen came out to make a statement that cash transfers may not improve women and children's status because of biased social priorities within the household

Rogers Wanyama

Emergency Nutrition Specialist

Normal user

29 Jan 2013, 00:58

Dear All

Thanks a lot for your responses.


Prof Anselimo Makokha

Professor, Jomo Kenyatta Unive. of Agric and Tech.

Normal user

2 Apr 2015, 06:04

In the case where the choice is between the options of cash transfer or food aid, there are situations where cash transfer may not be appropriate and food aid may be a better option. These include situations where markets are not functional or food is not available in the markets, or both in an emergency situation. It also applies where the food insecurity situation is very bad, and there is high prevalence of severe and moderate malnutrition, with increased risk of mortality, which need to be addressed. In such situations cash may be diverted to other priorities if given instead of food aid.


Community Mobilizer officer, Concern Worldwide,

Normal user

2 Apr 2015, 09:12

Hi Dear Anselimo Makokha on Thursday 2 April at 6:04 AM
In my idea towards the potential negative impacts of cash transfers on the nutrition status.
First- the HH members will use other areas instead of child's need to feel it properly
Second- In emergency situation areas, fathers took all cash money from the mother and use other needs rather than children with malnourished.
Third- Father's hobby will lead to miss-use of cash.
fourth- Cash will no longer remain as food in the house and need for help will always alert, food can longer up to the end of the month while cash did not.

Rita Bhatia

Frequent user

2 Apr 2015, 13:14

food vouchers are also considered in situations where markets are in existence. Vouchers are given to mothers with commodities etc written on this and they can obtain those commodities from the authorized vendors. Vendors in return encaseh those vochers with the agencies.
These are very contextual and one has to undertake an in depth assessment and analysis.
Good luck.
Pl note not all fathers abuse cash..

Anonymous 2868

Senior Health and Nutrition advisor

Normal user

2 Apr 2015, 14:20

' Pl note not all fathers abuse cash': I agree that Men could be the solution of these negative attitudes if they are involved at the start up of the process in a participative approach. They can be of great support to women and be model to their peer by convincing them to use properly the commodities or vouchers at household level. Meantime ,they can be used to promote essential actions related to personal and food hygiene as they are key influencers at community level.

Jacinta Manyara

Normal user

16 Jun 2016, 18:17

Dear All,
There is a lot of literature from Latin America on the Impact of Cash Transfer Programs(conditional) on child nutrition , though studies have shown mixed results on anthropometry especially stunting.I am wondering if there are any knowledge gaps, particularly from sub-saran Africa.
We seem to have lots of evidence of CTP's positive impact on food security. I am particularly interested in the causal pathways of nutrition-related outcomes like children's diet diversity,caregivers behavior, water and sanitation,women social-economic status.

Please share with me literature on the above

Victoria Sibson

PhD student/nutrition consultant

Normal user

17 Jun 2016, 07:36

Hello Rogers

Maybe an interesting read for you will be the literature review that we in the REFANI consortium wrote last year, to summarise the evidence on the impacts of cash transfers on nutritional status with a focus on humanitarian contexts. You can find it here:

REFANI stands for Research on Food Assistance for Nutrition Impact and we are a DfID funded consortium comprising Action Against Hunger, Concern Worldwide, University College London and Emergency Nutrition Network. Between 2014 and 2017 we are undertaking three studies in Niger, Pakistan and Somalia, to further add to the evidence base summarised in the literature review. You can read more on the Action Against Hunger webpage

very best


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