Mobile Cash Transfers Empower Poor Niger Women

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A working paper released by Center for Global Development reports on the first randomized evaluation of a short term mobile cash transfer program in Niger. According to the paper’s findings, women in households which use m-transfers, have greater control over the spending of the cash transfer and engage in consumption and production decisions.

Households using m-transfers (ZAP) purchase a more diverse set of goods, had higher diet diversity, depleted fewer assets and grew more types of crops, especially marginal cash crops grown by women, the paper says.

In response to the 2009/2010 Niger drought and food crisis, international non-governmental organization, Concern Worldwide, developed a humanitarian program to provide unconditional cash transfers to approximately 10,000 households during the “hungry season”, the five-month period before the harvest and typically the time of increased malnutrition. Program recipients were to receive an average of 22,000 CFA ($USD 45) per month for five months, for a total of $USD 215

This paper reports that the zap delivery mechanism strongly reduced the variable distribution costs for the implementing agency, as well as program recipients’ costs of obtaining the cash transfer. The average per recipient cost was US$12.76 in cash/placebo villages and US$13.65 in zap villages, or $.90USD more per recipient. Excluding the cost of the mobile phones, the per-recipient cost of the zap intervention falls to $8.80 per recipient. Thus, while the initial costs of the zap program were significantly higher, variable costs were 30 percent higher in the manual cash distribution villages.

Source: Microfinance Focus (link opens in a new window)