Comparing the cost and cost-efficiency of two seasonal cash-based interventions of equal value but different timing and duration in Tahoua, Niger

Trenouth, L,. Sibson, V., Grijalva-Eternod, C., Golden, K. and Puett, C.
Publication language
Date published
18 Nov 2022
Research, reports and studies
Cash-based transfers (CBT)

Cash-based interventions (CBIs) have been promoted as a cost-efficient and cost-effective form of humanitarian assistance, yet evidence as such remains inconclusive. In order to test this assertion, we carried out a study to compare the costs, cost-efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of two CBIs designed to prevent acute malnutrition among children 6-48 months of age. The selected programs were implemented in southern Niger in 2015 during the annual lean season amid a context of a high prevalence of child undernutrition. We gathered cost and resource use data as reported in institutional accounting ledgers, along with interviews of institutional staff, programme beneficiaries and community members, surveys of programme beneficiaries, and document review.

The results of this economic analysis demonstrated that the six-month “modified cash transfer” programme cost more overall and was less cost-efficient than the four-month “standard cash transfer” programme. Furthermore, the higher cost of the modified cash transfer program was not commensurate with the hypothesised greater effectiveness in improving child nutrition outcomes.

This study also highlights that costs to program beneficiaries were unevenly distributed across the recipient population. Costs to beneficiaries over the intervention period ranged from 3-12 days’ equivalent of income depending on the number of distributions they attended and their travel distance to the distribution points. It is possible that this difference in retained net transfer may have influenced the impact of the interventions. This suggests that consideration of costs to programme beneficiaries, including the seasonal variation of opportunity costs in agrarian contexts, may be key to programme design to maximise programme impact.