Zambia’s Child Grant Program: 30-Month Impact Report

A cash grant program for households with children under five in three districts in Zambia generated positive impacts, both in terms of immediate needs of the family and children's health, and in longer term productivity. As part of a three-year impact evaluation for UNICEF, AIR has released findings from a two-year randomized control trial (RCT) study of the program.

In 2010, Zambia's government began the rollout of a Child Grant cash transfer program (CGP) to households with any child under 5 years old, providing them with 60 kwacha a month (equivalent to U.S $12). The study sought to estimate the program's two-year impact on 2,515 households in Kalabo, Kaputa and Shangombo, remote districts with Zambia’s highest rates of extreme poverty and mortality among young children.

This report presents findings from the 30-month follow-up study and builds on results from the 24-month impact report. Besides the additional six months of program implementation, the 30-month report differs from the 24-month report by investigating program impacts during the harvest season when both beneficiary and nonbeneficiary households should have more food and resources than in the lean season, the time of year when the 24-month impacts were measured. Therefore, we focus the report on outcomes directly related to spending and food security, including consumption, asset accumulation, debt, diet diversity, and living conditions. We also investigate all the outcomes in the 24-month report such as health, education, and productivity. This report presents findings after 30 months of program implementation, including impacts on expenditures, poverty, food security, living conditions, children, and productivity.

Report Findings

The authors of the report found that the CGP leads to consumption smoothing between the lean and harvest seasons, enabling beneficiary households to maintain the same level of food security throughout the year. The consumption smoothing effect also means that beneficiary households have more money to spend on nonfood items in the harvest season. They observe that beneficiaries have reduced debt, more chickens, more mosquito nets, and more latrines and cement floors. They also replace open fires with torches to light their home. One exciting new result is the impact on education for primary school–age children, with beneficiaries enrolling and attending more.

Additionally, the authors found a reduction in child labor among beneficiary households for primary school–age boys compared with their labor in the lean season. They continued to see the control group improve over time for many indicators, perhaps due to the several bumper harvests that occurred during the period of the study and Zambia’s growing economy. Thus, the cash transfer program generates large impacts over the control group even during a period in time when control households are improving.