The Project ‘Cash Transfer to Protect Blanket Feeding’ in Niger was launched by UNICEF in June 2010. The Project was a direct response to the growing evidence that blanket supplementary feeding rations distributed to children of 6 to 23 months of age in food insecure communities were consumed by older children as well and in many cases all household members. The effectiveness of the blanket feeding to reduce the extremely high acute malnutri-tion among young children was thus challenged.
To ensure a quick response and recognizing that markets were well function-ing in Niger, the Cash Transfer modality was chosen as the best intervention mechanism to protect the blanket feeding in communities located at a max-imum distance of 10 kilometers to the nearest food market. The Project com-plements other projects distributing protection rations in communities with no immediate market access. The size of the protection rations were deter-mined to cover the food needs of an average household identified as 7 per-sons. To provide consistency between the different protection interventions, the amount of cash to be transferred to households receiving blanket feed-ing was determined at 20,000 FCFA per month corresponding to the value of the protection ration rations. The direct objective of the Project was to en-sure proper use of blanket feeding and the outcome was that 32,000 house-holds with at least one child younger than 2 years would use the blanket feeding for the targeted children. Considering the concern for the very young children, cash was also transferred to pregnant and breastfeeding women in the same communities.
The Project has had a positive on the protection of Blanket Feeding and the cash transfer modality allowed a swift response to the food security emer-gency. In summary, the Project has contributed to the right food at the right people at the right time; i.e. that the needs of children under two and preg-nant and breastfeeding women, or the ‘1,000 day challenge’ are met.
Critical for the success of the Project has been the partnership of organiza-tions with substantive technical and local experience whether national institu-tions such as DNPGSA, SIMA, or INS, INGOs such as CARE and SC, or UN agencies, particularly UNICEF and WFP. Moreover, the partnership builds on trust among the different partners from ongoing collaboration.
The Project has had positive impact on the understanding of cash transfer as an implementation tool to complement other response mechanisms to food insecurity. However, there are still no clear agreements of what skills and ca-pacity is need to participate effectively in cash operations. This challenge is not unique for this Emergency Cash Transfer Project but corresponds to a general concern about the lack of guidelines that can be applied in multi-stakeholder emergency cash transfer projects, which seeks to strengthen na-tional capacity.
The full final evaluation report, available for download here, includes the findings of the project, its relevance, effectiveness and efficiency, impact and sustainability and connectivity.
It concludes with the recommendations from the evaluators Lene Poulsen and Danielle Fabre.
Date: July 6th 2012
Author: UNICEF Emergency Project