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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2018 Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's Harmonised Social Cash Transfer Programme: Endline Impact Evaluation Report

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 3’.


This report presents results from the four-year endline evaluation of the Harmonised Social Cash Transfer (HSCT) programme, Zimbabwe’s flagship social protection cash transfer programme. The HSCT began in 2012 as a response to chronic food insecurity and deep poverty in rural Zimbabwe. A key feature of the HSCT is its explicit focus on addressing the vulnerability of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). As such, the HSCT was conceived of and implemented as part of a suite of interventions under the National Action Plan (NAP) for OVC. The ‘harmonised’ feature of the programme was to focus a set of child protection interventions on food poor households, many of whom would also be eligible for the cash transfer. The impact evaluation of the HSCT was initiated through a public tender in 2012 and the baseline was conducted in 2013. The goal of the impact evaluation was to understand the impacts of the programme on food security, children’s human capital (schooling, nutrition), and child protection.


Baseline data was collected in 2013 on 3,063 households in 90 wards across six districts, with 60 wards in the treatment sample and 30 wards in the comparison sample. Randomization of wards to comparison status was not possible because programme guidelines dictated that once the programme entered a district, all eligible households in that district would immediately be enrolled. Thus, households in the three districts that entered the programme in phase 2 (Binga, Mwenzi, and Mudzi) are compared with eligible households in three comparison districts that were scheduled to enter the programme in phase 4 (UMP, Chiredzi, and Hwange). Within comparison districts, wards were selected by the Ministry and the research team to match the treatment wards by agro-ecological characteristics, culture, and level of development.

A follow-up survey was conducted with these same households in 2014 by American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). Reports from the baseline and 12-month follow-up evaluation are available here.


Policy recommendations

Overall: The significant effects on food purchases and diet diversity, along with the strong multiplier effects generated by the programme, indicate that the HSCT is making an important positive difference in the lives of beneficiaries in both protective and productive domains. The programme thus represents a fruitful model for scale-up to achieve poverty mitigation and productive inclusion objectives of the Government of Zimbabwe.

Operations: There are a number of areas around programme operations that need to be strengthened based on the results. One area is around programme communication. Essential features of the programme are still not clearly understood by a large group of recipients, including when the next payment can be expected, how long recipients will remain in the programme, and whether or not there are rules or conditions to be followed for transfer receipt. The latter is particularly concerning, as recipients could be exploited if they believe they may be removed from the programme. A second area is around payments, as respondents spend over six hours collecting payments on average, and a quarter do not feel safe while collecting their payment. The actual timeliness and predictability of payments also has important consequences for programme impact insofar as they affect planning and forward thinking, so the Ministry should ensure these essential features of the programme are maintained. Finally, coordination with other poverty relief interventions should be improved, as HSCT recipients report being consistently excluded from NGO and other programmes, such as input support and drought relief.

Coordination with BEAM: Consistent with earlier evidence from midline study, HSCT beneficiaries are still systematically excluded from BEAM. The Ministry should reach out to the Ministry of Education, particularly at local level, to explain the purpose of the HSCT, and to coordinate the targeting of BEAM benefits at the Ward level. Ideally HSCT recipients would automatically qualify for BEAM, as is done in Ghana and Jamaica, for example, where cash transfer beneficiaries automatically qualify for free health insurance and school fee waivers respectively.

Youth: The ramping up of child protection services since the midline study appears to have paid dividends, with positive impacts on violence reduction and other child protection outcomes. These services should be continued, and possibly expanded to areas such as menstrual hygiene, which continues to be an important barrier for young women to fulfil their development potential.

Strategic dissemination of results: The evaluation contains evidence of positive programme impacts across a range of domains, such as consumption and diet diversity, productive activity, and child protection. Evidence could be packaged in a user-friendly, accessible manner (for example through short, focused research briefs) and disseminated to key change agents such as the media, academics, and Parliamentarians. Innovative dissemination strategies used in other countries should also be investigated and potentially adapted to the local context. The Ghana LEAP cash transfer has utilized T.V. infomercials, videos and radio spots to raise awareness and support for the programme, and Zambia, Ghana and Kenya have organized social protection weeks (for example http://spc.socialprotection.or.ke/) to facilitate national dialogues on the role of social protection. Such efforts will leverage the large investment in the impact evaluation, and the positive results it contains.

Full report in PDF

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Report information





Child Protection

Carolina Population Center: University of North Carolina


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