Evaluating the Impact of Cash Transfer Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa

The conditional cash transfer (CCT) revolution in Latin America and the Caribbean, beginning in the mid-1990s and continuing to this day, heralded a new prominence and acceptance of applying rigorous impact evaluations to social programmes. Beginning with the landmark impact evaluation of the Mexican PROGRESA programme in 1998, almost all programmes in this new generation of social programmes were accompanied by experimental, or non-experimental but rigorous, impact evaluations. These impact evaluations radically advanced the state of knowledge on CCTs, leading to improved implementation in their respective countries, but also pushing forward in terms of methodology, technique, design, sampling and analysis of impact evaluation data. The Latin American experience in impact evaluation, however, may soon be rivalled. Sub-Saharan Africa has begun its own cash transfer (CT) revolution. And, more importantly for the discussion here, African countries have followed a similar pattern of rigorous impact evaluation. As can be seen in the table, rigorous impact evaluations, experimental and non-experimental, have been carried out or commissioned on government-run CT programmes in no fewer than 14 countries in the last few years.