Providing financial and in-kind support in Mali’s Kayes region

The FAO CASH+ programme boosts the livelihoods of women and vulnerable households

Key Facts

The FAO CASH+ programme is currently helping 750 vulnerable households across 36 villages in the Kayes region of Mali. The 18-month programme, already successfully tested in Mauritania and other West African countries, combines unconditional cash transfers with in-kind livestock inputs such as goats and animal feed. Women directly receive 99 percent of the transfers, which benefit approximately 5 300 individuals in Mali. 

Mali has become the latest country in Africa’s Sahel region to be included in the FAO CASH+ programme of productive transfers. CASH+ flexibly combines unconditional cash transfers, which help recipients meet basic household income and protect assets from depletion and losses, with transfers of in-kind productive assets. The programme also provides technical training aimed at helping highly vulnerable, poor and food insecure households boost their livelihoods and productive capacities.

The expertise of FAO is critical in deciding the right mix of complementary interventions – the “plus” – to combine with cash payments. Knowledge of pastoral and agricultural seasons helps identify when is the best time to transfer ruminants and animal feed and provide appropriate technical training to participants. Getting this type of productive assistance right helps kick-start a virtuous cycle of income generation leading to economic empowerment, increased asset ownership, improved food security and dietary diversity.

In Mali, CASH+ is particularly focused on rural areas, where two different types of transfer of similar total value are being distributed and compared. The first type of transfer consists of 20 000 FCFA (approximately USD 32) in cash, one male goat, two female goats and 50 kg of animal feed. This combination is distributed to 375 beneficiary households, or approximately 2 650 individuals. The second type of transfer involves cash payments only, delivered in two tranches of 50 000 FCFA (approximately USD 82) each. This is also distributed to 375 households.

Having two different transfer modalities allows FAO to analyse in detail respective impacts on food security, nutrition, income and assets ownership, and to compare cost-effectiveness of cash transfers alone versus cash associated with productive assets.

Women at the center
CASH+ transfers go directly to vulnerable women in 99 percent of cases. These women, often with large families, need to protect their livelihoods, diversify their sources of income and accumulate productive assets to cope with recurrent crises linked to drought, desertification, floods, conflicts, economic shocks and disease.

Programme participant Nouhan Dicko has had to raise five children on her own since her husband left her. Before receiving her CASH+ transfer, her only source of income was selling zèguènè – a wild fruit collected in the bush – at the Nioro market, more than 10 km from her village. Now a delighted Nouhan says, “with the money I received, I have been able to purchase two bags of rice! And I hope that my goats will deliver soon.”

Sira Diatta spent two years relying on her village neighbours to provide food for her and her ten children. With her husband seriously ill and their field abandoned, life was extremely tough. Cash+ came at just the right time for her. “I am relieved to be getting out of this difficult period,” she says, “and the small livestock will give me more autonomy.”

Nouhan and Sira are just two of the many women who have benefitted from cash transfers, public work schemes, health insurance, and other social protection mechanisms.

CASH+ programmes across the Sahel region
Since 2014, FAO CASH+ programmes have played an important role in creating resilient livelihoods among vulnerable communities across the Sahel region.

In southern Mauritania, CASH+ helped Nejiha, a single mother of nine children, start a small business that enables her to cover her family’s food and health expenses, pay school fees, and further develop her food stall; in Burkina Faso, the programme helped beneficiaries increase revenues by 27 percent, raised the number of food secure participants from 35 percent to 75 percent, and led to greater dietary diversity; and in Niger, CASH+ proved its suitability in a context of crisis, rehabilitation and development.

So far, results in Mali look just as positive, though further analysis should provide evidence as to which of the two modalities for transfers could potentially be more effective in the long run.


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