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 14: Case Study 4. Dowa Emergency Cash Transfer, Malawi

Frank Ellis, Stephen Devereux and Phillip White


OVERVIEW The DECT was an innovative project that provided monthly cash transfers to beneficiary households, banded according to the size of the household and adjusted monthly in line with the price of maize. The international NGO Concern Worldwide linked up with a commercial bank, the Opportunity International Bank Malawi, to trial the delivery of cash transfers through smartcards, utilizing mobile ATMs to visit rural areas at predetermined times and places. As extra security, a fingerprint reader was incorporated into the card issuing process, so that future cash draw-downs would be against a fingerprint as well as the smartcard. The DECT was designed to address a localized, seasonal food deficit identified in the northern part of Dowa District in Malawi in the lean season of 2006–07. The DECT ran from December 2006 to April 2007, a five-month duration leading up to the harvest period of the next season’s crop. Project beneficiaries numbered 10 161 households in total, although some of these did not receive the first monthly payment (8 384 households received payments in December 2006). The baseline amount of the transfer varied from MK370 (US$2.64) per month for a one-person household to a maximum of MK3700 (US$26.40) for a household of ten or more. However, transfer amounts were adjusted downwards as maize prices fell during the season, reflecting the release of stored supplies on to the market ahead of the 2007 maize harvest. An additional innovation of DECT was to provide the...

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