Social Protection in Africa
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Social Protection in Africa

Frank Ellis, Stephen Devereux and Phillip White

The purpose of this book is to make accessible to a broad audience the ideas, principles and practicalities of establishing effective social protection in Africa. It focuses on the major shift in strategy for tackling hunger and vulnerability, from emergency responses mainly in the form of food transfers to predictable cash transfers to the chronically poorest social groups. The diverse case studies in this book provide a unique and timely exploration of the effective, and less effective, ways that social transfers are delivered to the chronically poor and vulnerable in Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Chapter 6: Cost-effectiveness

Frank Ellis, Stephen Devereux and Phillip White


6. Cost-effectiveness OVERVIEW ‘Cost-effectiveness’ is about the relationship between costs and effects. It is a measure of how cheaply specified objectives can be reached, or how far they can be reached at given cost. In principle, it provides a criterion for judging and choosing between alternative means of producing desired effects according to the value for money they offer. The quest for cost-effectiveness has become something of a preoccupation amongst donors and governments funding social transfer programmes, and much of the rather polarized debate about the relative merits of different instruments, cash and food transfers especially, has been in cost-effectiveness terms. Choices about whether and how to target social transfers are judged on their relative cost-effectiveness, as are different methods of delivery. Sponsors of social protection programmes, and the communities to whom they are accountable, have an obvious and legitimate interest in ensuring that programme outcomes justify money spent, and in whether these outcomes could be enhanced within budgetary constraints or achieved more cheaply in other ways. However, straightforward as it may seem at first sight when applied to social transfers, cost-effectiveness is open to different conceptual and empirical interpretations, and results of costeffectiveness calculations can therefore be manipulated to serve particular policy advocacy interests. Perhaps the most important lesson of this chapter is that, before drawing any conclusions from findings about the cost-effectiveness of a social transfer scheme, it is necessary to scrutinize carefully...

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