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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2014 Lesotho: Child Grand Impact Evaluation

Author: Luca Pellarano, Marta Morati, Maja Jakobsen, Matej Bajgar, and Valentina Barca

Executive summary

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The Lesotho Child Grants Programme (CGP) is an unconditional social cash transfer targeted to poor and vulnerable households. It provides a regular transfer of between M360 and M750 every quarter to poor households with children that are selected through a combination of Proxy Means Testing (PMT) and community validation. The primary objective of the CGP “is to improve the living standards of Orphans and other Vulnerable Children (OVC) so as to reduce malnutrition, improve health status, and increase school enrolment among OVCs”.

The programme is run by the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) of the Government of Lesotho (GoL), with financial support from the European Commission and technical support from UNICEF-Lesotho. In the pilot stage technical assistance to the implementation has been provided by Ayala Co. and World Vision (WV).
The first phase of the pilot programme was designed and implemented in three rounds. Round 1A of the CGP pilot began in October 2009 in three Community Councils. The pilot was expanded in early 2010 under Round 1A to include three additional councils and then under Round 1B, covering an additional 3,400 households.

Funding has been taken over by the government, which is now considering nationwide expansion of the CGP and the NISSA, with the latter serving as a platform for better harmonizing social protection interventions in the country.
Originally households received quarterly a flat rate of M360. Effective from April 2013, the transfer was indexed to the number of children in each household, ranging from M360 for households with 1-2 children, M600 for households with 3-4 children, to M750 for households with 5 children or more. While beneficiaries received the total intended amount of funds over the study period, the intended payment schedule was not followed and transfers were often made in more lumpy disbursements than expected – particularly the last payment before the follow up survey.


The purpose of the impact evaluation of CGP is to establish the

Efficiency – whether CGP delivered its services efficiently?

Effectiveness - whether the CGP achieved or made progress towards its desired objectives and outputs?

Impact – what were the intended and unintended impacts of the CGP on beneficiary and non-beneficiaries and the wider community?

Sustainability – whether the CGP is sustainable within the current macroeconomic and institutional context and whether there are any conceivable exit strategies for beneficiaries and donors?


The impact evaluation of the CGP employed a mixed-methods approach. The quantitative analysis, implemented by Oxford Policy Management (OPM) and Sechaba Consultants, was based on a randomized controlled trial (RCT) design. Within 10 Community Councils selected for the Phase 1 – Round 2 expansion of the programme, half of all 96 Electoral Divisions were randomly assigned to be covered by the pilot (treatment), while the other half were to be covered after the end of the evaluation study (control). Electoral Divisions were assigned to either group in public lottery events. The study took place in five Districts: Qacha’s Nek, Maseru, Leribe, Berea and Mafeteng. Baseline and follow-up panel surveys collected information for a sample of CGP-eligible and –non eligible households in treatment and control communities. The baseline survey fieldwork took place between June and August 2011, comprising around 3000 households. The follow-up survey fieldwork took place in 2013 at the same time of the year to avoid seasonality bias.

The impact on the local economy was simulated using a LEWIE (Local Economy Wide Impact Evaluation) model. The model was based on the baseline household survey data combined with a business enterprise survey that accompanied baseline data collection. The LEWIE constructed for the CGP focused on the five districts included in the quantitative impact evaluation. Qualitative field work, conducted in villages of four Community Councils in the districts of Mafeteng and Leribe, collected information using participatory methods and in-depth case studies on beneficiary perceptions of the programme impact on household decision-making, community dynamics and social networks.

Findings and Conclusions:

Increase in spending on children:
The CGP contributed to a large increase in expenditures on schooling, school uniforms, clothing and footwear for children, including a 26 percentage point increase (from a base of 46 percent) in the share of pupils (ages 6-19) with uniforms and shoes. The impact is particularly large for young boys and girls (ages 6-12), with increases of 35 and 27 percentage points, respectively. The direct impact of the CGP on the amount spent per pupil since the beginning of the academic year was M83 (from a base of M60) for children ages 6-12.

Increase in birth registration and child health:
The CGP led to an increase in birth registration by 37 percentage points amongst children ages 0-6 (from a baseline of 14 percent). The study shows no significant increase in the proportion of children (0-17) that consulted a health care provider. The CGP contributed to a 15 percentage point reduction (from a baseline of 39 percent) in the proportion of both boys and girls ages 0-5 who suffered from an illness (generally flu or cold) in the 30 days prior to the survey.

Increase in school enrolment:
The CGP led to an increase in the proportion of children who are currently enrolled in school. The CGP contributed to retaining children ages 13-17 in primary school, particularly boys who would have otherwise dropped out, with
enrolment rates six percentage points higher for this group. The effect seems to be concentrated on late learners who are still enrolled in primary school despite being older than 13 years of age. The programme did not have any noticeable impact on other important dimensions of school progression (early enrolment, repetition, primary completion and enrolment in secondary). 

The CGP improved the ability of beneficiary households to access food throughout the year.

The programme increased the share of households using and purchasing, and expenditure on, crop inputs.


Program Recommendations:

Improve the Predictability and Frequency of Payments to allow households to plan their finances around the CGP

Avoid erosion of transfer value and establish a more stable mechanism to increase the value of the transfer to reduce erosion by inflation. One possibility would be to link adjustments in the CGP amount to increases to the value of the Old Age Pension amount that are decided on a yearly basis by MoF on the basis of the fiscal framework.

Introduce a more structured messaging/training component that is delivered to beneficiaries together with the CGP, covering over time a wider range of issues, including child health and nutrition, food security, financial management or productive investment, etc.

Provide a more holistic response based on the principle of complementary of different interventions. Synergies and linkages should be built between the CGP and other programmes in the area of child health, nutrition and education, but also rural and micro-enterprise development, and including a better articulation with emergency response programmes.

The creation a more comprehensive communications and case management system, has the potential not only to improve beneficiaries’ experience of the programme, but also to increase its impacts, through closer monitoring, better tailored messaging and better articulation with other services.

Policy Recommendations:

The role and importance of the CGP and its affordability should be assessed within the Government’s Social Protection Strategy currently under development.

CGP could be turned into a sharper instrument to protect and incentivize investment in human capital.

CGP to be turned into a protection scheme for extreme and chronically poor and complement to the Old Age Pension.

CGP could evolve into a program which is primarily aimed at graduating households from poverty.

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