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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2015 Liberia: Final Evaluation Liberia Social Cash Transfer Programme

Author: Subah-Belleh Associates

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.


Against a backdrop of deep structural poverty (48% of the Liberian population in extreme poverty), and in response to the Triple ‘F’ crisis (Food, Finance, and Fuel crisis) of 2008, the Government of Liberia, in partnership with UNICEF, with funding from the European Union and Government of Japan developed a pilot Social Cash Transfer Scheme in Bomi County. The overall objective of the pilot was to contribute to poverty reduction and improvement in the well-being and food security of Liberians. Specifically, the programme was expected to reduce vulnerability among ultra-poor, labour-constrained households. The first cash transfers were made to a small group of families in November 2009 and the programme formally launched in February 2010 initially under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and was later transferred to the Ministry of Gender and Development for logistical and capacity reasons. With more funding made available by the European Union, the programme was expanded to Maryland County in 2012. The two counties were selected based on the 2008 Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey (CFSNS) which ranked them as the most food insecure counties.
In mid-2011, the Government of Liberia and UNICEF commissioned the Center for Global Health and Development (CGHD) at Boston University to conduct an independent external evaluation of the Bomi SCT Programme. The study found compelling evidence that the SCT programme improved the food security, health, education and economic conditions of participating households. Cash transfer programme households reported improved food intake and larger food stores that lasted longer.


This evaluation is a follow up to the mid-term evaluation conducted in 2011 and seeks to provide evidence of changes that have occurred on beneficiary households since the previous mid-term evaluation and will help inform programme scale up plans. Specifically, the evaluation seeks to examine the differences between cash transfer recipients (intervention) and non-recipients (comparison), in the areas of food security, education, health and health-seeking behavior, asset ownership, housing quality, household expenditures, and the well-being of household members. The evaluation also aims to assess the effectiveness of the programme’s targeting processes and procedures, and to examine to which extent, equity and gender impacts were achieved in the programme. Finally, the evaluation is expected to assess the programme’s scalability going forward. The evaluation will provide critical information on the programme’s impact, effectiveness and scalability to aid the Government of Liberia in its plans to scale up the programme. The findings of the study will also be used for advocacy for continued donor support of the social protection sector in Liberia. The potential users of the evaluation are therefore be, Government line Ministries, UNICEF and other UN agencies, the European Union and other donor partners.


This is a quasi-experimental, mixed-method, cross sectional study. The study consisted of the following evaluation and research activities:

  • Quantitative Household Survey with modules on food security, poverty, child health, child development, health and other issues (448 households in total)
  • Focus Group Discussions with children (12 groups in total, ages 10-18 years)
  • Focus Group Discussions with community members (22 groups in total)
  • Key Informant Interviews with informants from education (n=6), health (n=6), agriculture (n=2), business owners (n=6), religious leaders (n=6), SCT Secretariat (n=3), and Partners and Government officials (n=4) (33 in total)

As was the case with the mid-term evaluation, this study did not yield impact estimates or quantify the expected change over time due to the cash transfer. Given the stage of implementation, particularly in Maryland County (with only about 2 years of implementation), data limitations, and budget constraints precluded a randomized control trial. However, even if it was not a longitudinal evaluation, the study was able to examine how households change when they become cash transfer recipients compared to similar households that were not selected for the social cash transfer programme (SCTP). Through the quasi-experimental method, the study presents differences between households and attempts to determine whether differences can be attributed to the cash transfer. Additionally, the study design combined quantitative and qualitative activities in order to yield data on differences between an intervention and control group, insights into complex phenomena, obtain a wide range of perspectives, and confirm and verify findings.

Findings and Conclusions:

Consistent with the findings of the mid-term evaluation, the programme has shown continued positive impacts on beneficiary households across the whole breath of areas such as food security, education, health and health-seeking behavior, asset ownership, housing quality, household expenditures, and the well-being of household members. However, the results indicated negative outcomes, particularly in terms of targeting, benefit size, jealousy and animosity, misuse of cash, and use of children in selling businesses.


Targeting: While significant changes were made to the targeting system since the midterm evaluation, further improvements are recommended especially to make the selection process more transparent.  It is also recommended that extensive community level sensitization on the selection process and the grievance mechanism be conducted to enhance community knowledge and ensure transparency.

Benefit Size: It is recommended that the cash transfer size be adjusted periodically in line with changes in the cost of living and the exchange rate.

Child Labor:  The programme needs to involve community leaders and child welfare committees to ensure that households are constantly monitored and discouraged from using children in vending businesses at the expense of the education and normal play.

Misuse of cash: there were isolated reported cases of misuse of cash. While the magnitude of these cases may not warrant introduction of full conditionalities in the cash transfer programme, it can be recommended that “soft” conditions be introduced. These may include attendance of parenting or counselling sessions for heads of households reported to be misusing the cash and involving children in child labour.

Scaling up the Program: It is recommended that based on the positive results highlighted in the evaluation, the programme be scaled up to cover more counties. The scale up phase should be guided by the same criteria for geographical targeting using food security assessment indicators. Based on the success of innovating cash distribution methods such as mobile money, it is recommended that the scale up seriously considers exploiting and expanding such innovations. The scale up should however seriously consider further improvement of the targeting process, as well as complementary services to curb instances of misuse of the cash and child labour.

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