In Burkina Faso, a national policy for social protection was adopted in September 2012. A year later, an action plan was developed which included the need to improve social transfer mechanisms for the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country, to ensure food security for all. In order to inform these policy discussions and decisions, and after implementing a needs assessment and a nutrition causal analysis, Action Against Hunger France decided to implement a cash transfer program, and to determine its potential effects to prevent acute malnutrition in young children in rural areas of the country.
The MAM’Out research project aimed at evaluating a seasonal and multi-annual cash transfer program, in the framework of a safety net to prevent acute malnutrition in children under 36 months. It aimed to look at both the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the program in the Tapoa province (East region of Burkina Faso, Africa). The program was implemented from June 2013 to September 2015, and the study was designed as a two-arm cluster randomized intervention trial. One group of villages received cash transfers via mobile phones, and one was a control group, that did not receive any cash transfer or program intervention. Children of more than 1,185 poor and very poor households and aged less than 1 years old at the time of inclusion were followed up over two years. Data on children’s anthropometry, children’s and women’s diet, food security, motor development, health centre frequentation, etc., were regularly collected by a dedicated team.
The MAM’Out study showed that seasonal unconditional cash transfers in the framework of safety nets did not result in a significant decrease in the incidence of child acute malnutrition in Tapoa Province. However, it increased dietary diversity and intake of high nutritional value food, and it can be used as a mechanism for addressing children’s dietary intake during lean seasons. While the results did not show an impact on childhood malnutrition, there are many lessons learnt that can influence the way cash transfer programs are rolled out in country. Detailed quantitative and qualitative results are available via scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals. The operational recommendations of the project are detailed in a policy brief.
The MAM’Out findings recommend unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) be used in actions addressing children’s dietary diversity in lean season. Similarly, multiannual seasonal UCTs can be used in actions aiming to improve under 5 children and their mothers’ dietary diversity. Specific operational and research recommendations can be suggested thanks to the understanding of key questions and lessons learnt from the MAM’Out research:
- UCT amount has to be calculated from the minimum expenditure basket considering the cost of diet for the food part.
- UCT duration has to be considered according to the objective of the project.
- UCT is not a standalone response and has to be integrated to address the complex needs.
- UCT modalities costs has to be integrated in the minimum expenditure basket calculation.
- UCT cost efficiency has to be taken into account since the very beginning of the project through strong contractual partnership.
Watch the video of the presentation of the results of the MAM’Out research projects to the communities that were enrolled in the project below.