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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2018 Lesotho: Impact evaluation of Lesotho’s Child Grants Programme (CGP) and Sustainable Poverty Reduction through Income, Nutrition and access to Government Services (SPRINGS) project

Author: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

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’.


Social protection has been recognized as a key strategy to address poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion in Lesotho. As a result, the Government, with the support of UNICEF and EU developed the Child Grants Programme (CGP), which provides unconditional cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households registered in the National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA). In order to strengthen the impact of the CGP on the accumulation of assets, savings and borrowing behaviour for investment purposes, and poverty, FAO Lesotho began a pilot initiative in 2013, called Linking Food Security to Social Protection Programme (LFSSP), to improve food security among poor and vulnerable households by providing vegetable seeds and training on homestead gardening to CGP beneficiaries. Alongside UNICEF evaluated the CGP in 2014. The CGP impact evaluation results and LFSSP experiences encouraged UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) to implement a more comprehensive livelihood programme in 2015 called the Sustainable Poverty Reduction through Income, Nutrition, and Access to Government Services (SPRINGS) through Catholic Relief Services (CRS), to link cash transfer to livelihhods to facilitate poverty reduction. The programme provided support in the form of: i) Community-based savings and lending groups, with financial education, known as Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC); ii) Homestead gardening, including support to keyhole gardens and vegetable seeds distribution; iii) Nutrition training through Community-led Complementary Feeding and Learning Sessions (CCFLS); iv) Market clubs for training on market access; v) One Stop Shop / Citizen Services Outreach Days. While the Government was planning to implement UNICEF supported community development model to facilitate poor people come out of poverty, it was important to assess the impact of the SPRING to inform the design of the community development model.


The overall objective of the evaluation was to study the welfare and economic impacts of CGP and SPRINGS on direct beneficiaries; and to assess whether combining the cash transfers with a package of rural development interventions can create positive synergies at both individual and household level, especially in relation to income generating activities and nutrition. Specific objectives were to see the impacts of the SPRING on consumption and poverty, dietary diversity and food security, income, agricultural inputs and assets, children wellbeing, financial inclusion, gardening and operational efficiency of CGP and SPRING. 


The quantitative impact evaluation presented in this report has a specific objective: The impact evaluation design consists of a matched case-control study. This method is based on the NISSA registry data and matches households with and without CGP based on their socio-demographic characteristics. Data collection was conducted between end of November 2017 and mid-January 2018 by Spatial Intelligence (SiQ).

Findings and Conclusions:

Consumption and poverty
While the programmes do not seem to affect significantly total consumption, nor the poverty head count rate, the joint impact of CGP and SPRINGS is positive and significant on non-food consumption (at 10% level) and is negative and significant (at 5% level) on the poverty gap index
Dietary diversity and food security
Diversity in diet is measured through several indicators of women’s consumption of different kinds of foods. The estimates show a strong positive and significant impact of both CGP alone and CGP plusSPRINGS on dark green leafy vegetables (13 and 27 percentage points increase for CGP and CGP plus SPRINGS treatment arms, respectively, with respect to the comparison mean), vitamin A rich fruits and vegetables (12 and 24 percentage point increase), and organ meat (20 and 21 percentage point increase).

The report investigates the impact on all different sources on income, as well as the gross sum of the sources. As expected, public transfers increase significantly in both CGP and CGP plusSPRINGS group as effect of the CGP transfers. For the CGP plusSPRINGS treatment arm, we also observe an increase of the value of sales of fruits and vegetables (21.5 LSL), corresponding to an increase of more than 100 percent with respect to the value of the comparison group.

Agricultural inputs and assets
In the CGP plusSPRINGS treatment arm seeds and chemical fertilizers expenses increased respectively by 32 and 37 LSL (approximately a 70 and 85 percent increase from the comparison mean).
Children wellbeing
The estimates for child education suggest that the CGP alone has increased by 1.3 percentage points the share of children completing secondary school. . Children in CGP plusSPRINGS group instead report a larger number of completed years of schooling (0.27) and a 4 percentage point reduction of illiteracy rate.


First, for the overall effectiveness of the programmes, it is important to encourage participation of CGP beneficiaries in SPRINGS activities. This can be achieved through clear messaging that CGP and SPRINGS are not competing programmes but complementary.
Second, continue to support saving and internal lending communities (SILC) to promote household savings, borrowing and access to loans. This increases household economic security, resilience and risk taking due to greater confidence. Finally, to guarantee medium and long term impacts, community development interventions should establish and support greater linkages to markets, including through stronger efforts to develop market clubs.

Lessons Learned:

Linking cash assistance programmes to livelihoods has greater impact on (1) households’ welfare, economic security and market engagement; (2) financial inclusion; (3) risk taking behaviour; and (4) nutritional knowledge and dietary practices. Social Assistance programmes alone is not enough to expedite poverty reduction of poor families.

Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year: 2018

Office/Country: Lesotho

Region: ESAR

Type: Evaluation

Theme: Social Policy (Cross-cutting), Poverty programming; Poverty Reduction Strategies; CCTs

Language: English

Sequence #: 2018/001

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