Choice, dignity and empowerment? Cash and Food Transfers in Swaziland

Devereux, S & Jere, P.
Date published
01 Jun 2008
Evaluation reports
Cash, Children & young people, Disasters, Drought, Food and nutrition, Food aid, Food security, Nutrition
Department for International Development

The Emergency Drought Response (EDR) project introduced cash transfers as a response to the food
crisis of 2007/08 in Swaziland. Some 6,200 households (close to 40,000 people) in two severely affected
regions received a half ration of food (maize, beans and oil) and the equivalent in cash, every month for six
months from November 2007 until the harvest of April 2008. A further 1,400 households in the same
regions who were unable to open bank accounts (usually because they could not secure ID documents in
time) received full food rations, and served as a ‘control group’ for comparing project impacts between cash
transfer recipients and food aid recipients.
The project was well designed and well implemented. The humanitarian objective of ensuring access to food
for drought-affected families was successfully achieved. Cash transfers were delivered on time and in full
throughout the project period. The cash payment was fixed at a level intended to allow recipients to purchase
a half-ration of food (maize, beans and oil) for each household member, to supplement the half-ration that
was delivered in-kind. Food prices in local markets were monitored monthly and averaged 21% higher than
the cash transferred, but the impact was muted by a series of additional transfers paid by Save the Children:
lump-sum grants in the first and final months to protect assets and promote livelihoods, monthly supplements
for non-food necessities and transport to cash paypoints.