The Emergency Drought Response (EDR) project introduced cash transfers as a response to the food crisis of 2007/08 in Swaziland. Some 6,200 households (close to 40,000 people) in two severely affected regions received a half ration of food (maize, beans and oil) and the equivalent in cash, every month for six months from November 2007 until the harvest of April 2008. A further 1,400 households in the same regions who were unable to open bank accounts (usually because they could not secure ID documents in time) received full food rations, and served as a ‘control group’ for comparing project impacts between cash transfer recipients and food aid recipients.
The project was well designed and well implemented. The humanitarian objective of ensuring access to food for drought-affected families was successfully achieved. Cash transfers were delivered on time and in full throughout the project period. The cash payment was fixed at a level intended to allow recipients to purchase a half-ration of food (maize, beans and oil) for each household member, to supplement the half-ration that was delivered in-kind. Food prices in local
markets were monitored monthly and averaged 21% higher than the cash transferred, but the impact was muted by a series of additional transfers paid by Save the Children: lump-sum grants in the first and final months to protect assets and promote livelihoods, monthly supplements for non-food necessities and transport to cash pay-points.
A comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system generated useful data before and during the intervention. These included a market feasibility study and baseline survey (pre-implementation), and monthly monitoring of disbursements (cash and food), markets (prices and availability), and households (income, expenditure, assets and diets). A final evaluation survey was implemented in May 2008 (post-implementation). The sample of 1,784 households included 1,225 ‘cash plus food’ recipients, 491 ‘food only’ recipients’ and 68 child-headed households, who also received cash and food but were treated as a separate category (being minors they received their cash transfers directly, not through a Post Office or bank account).