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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2013 Ghana: Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Program Impact Evaluation

Author: Sudhanshu Handa, Michael Park, Robert Osei Darko, Isaac Osei-Akoto, Benjamin Davis, Silvio Diadone

Executive summary

"With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. Please ensure that you check the quality of this evaluation report, whether it is “Outstanding, Best Practice”, “Highly Satisfactory”, “Mostly Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report."


LEAP is a social cash transfer program which provides cash and health insurance to extremely poor households across Ghana to alleviate short-term poverty and encourage long-term human capital development. LEAP started a trial phase in March 2008 and then began expanding gradually in 2009 and 2010, and currently reaches over 70,000 households across Ghana with an annual expenditure of approximately USD20m. LEAP eligibility is based on poverty and having a household member in at least one of three demographic categories: households with orphan or vulnerable child (OVC), elderly poor, or person with extreme disability unable to work (PWD).


The purpose of the evaluation is to provide impact estimates of LEAP on a range of household and child level outcomes. The primary outcomes of interest at the household level are consumption and non-consumption expenditure and enrolment in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). At the child level, the primary outcomes are school access and health access. The results of this study will help to inform the implementation of the LEAP program.


The evaluation strategy for LEAP is a longitudinal propensity score matching (PSM) design. In doing the evaluation, baseline data was collected from future beneficiaries in three regions (Brong Ahafo, Central and Volta) who were part of a larger nationally representative sample of households surveyed as part of a research study conducted by ISSER and Yale University (USA) in the first quarter of 2010 (N=699). A comparison group of ‘matched’ households (N=699) were selected from the ISSER sample and re-interviewed after 24 months along with LEAP beneficiaries to measure changes in outcomes across treatment and comparison groups. There were 1398 target households (699 in each of the LEAP and matched ISSER samples) to be followed during the 2012 exercise. A total of 1289 of households were actually re-interviewed for a success rate of 92 percent. With the additional 215 households from the ISSER sample, the total analysis sample consists of 1613 households and a final longitudinal sample of 1504 households (858 ISSER, 646 LEAP).

Findings and Conclusions:

1. Inconsistent implementation
Over this 24-month evaluation period households received only 20 months’ worth of payments. There was a long gap in cash payments to households in 2011, followed by a triple payment in February 2012 to settle arrears.

2. Positive impacts on children’s schooling
LEAP has increased school enrolment among secondary school aged children by 7percentage points, and reduced grade repetition among both primary and secondary aged children. Among primary aged children LEAP has reduced absenteeism by 10 percentage points.

3. Despite increased NHIS coverage, mixed results on health utilization and morbidity
Despite the large increase in NHIS coverage, LEAP has not had an impact on curative care seeking but has increased preventive care among girls age 0-5. Results on morbidity are mixed, increasing for children 0-5 but decreasing for children 6-17.

4. Gender impacts on children
Secondary school enrolment impacts are limited to boys, but attendance mpacts are bigger for girls. At the household level, impacts on food security and happiness are larger among female headed households.

5. No impacts on consumption
The impact of LEAP on household consumption is essentially zero, likely due to the irregular payments, the lumpy nature of payments when made, and the low level of benefits.

6. Positive impacts on non-consumption
LEAP has led to a significant increase in the likelihood of holding savings (11 pp) and a significant increase in gifts received. LEAP has also had an impact on debt repayments and reduced loan holdings, particularly among female headed households.

7. There are some productivity impacts of LEAP
Among households with four members or less, there are positive impacts of own labor supplied to the farm by men and women, and on expenditure on seeds. On the other hand, there are reductions in labor hired in by households though this reduction is lower than the increase in own labor.


The report recommends that there should be a follow-up study on the 699 LEAP households to understand the medium term effects of the program. However the benefit of continuing the study depends on whether payments to the households have been made on a regular basis.

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Report information




Social Policy


University of Ghana, FAO


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