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Re: Social protection to protect and promote nutrition

Alessandro Romeo FAO, Italy
FSN Forum

Dear members,
In the last decade, cash transfer programmes have become popular components of poverty reduction strategies in Sub Saharan African countries. Along with well-established benefits such as a reduction in food insecurity and increased school enrolment, recent research has found these programmes are also effective in promoting on-farm activities and investments in agricultural assets. In addition, some cash transfer interventions have proven effective in improving nutritional status of children living in beneficiary households. In the context of FAO-led From Protection to Production (PtoP) project , we use data from the Mchinji Social Cash Transfer pilot programme (Malawi) to assess if the programme had an impact on child nutritional status and to what extent this impact can be linked to increases in agricultural production by beneficiary households. At the household level, the analysis shows a substantial impact on household food and non-food expenditure as well as a shift in the consumption preferences towards better nutrients. At the individual level, we find children of age 0-5 residing in beneficiary households being, on average, taller compared to the control group, which translates into a significant reduction in the stunting rate among children. Further, we find that the programme positively affected food consumption out of own production and that children living in families experiencing a shift toward home production of foods, such as meat and fish, dairy products and pulses benefitted more in terms of nutritional outcomes. Full results will be submitted to the Journal of Development Economics.