Give Directly Whitepaper Series for Cash Grants in Malawi

Speeches Shim

Executive Summary

As part of an ambitious, multi-country partnership and with generous support from USAID and Good Ventures, GiveDirectly (GD) successfully launched its first household grants program in Malawi in early 2019. The program was designed not only to directly transform the lives of ~11,000 households enrolled, but also, through a randomized controlled trial, to provide USAID/Malawi with a benchmark against which to compare the cost-effectiveness and/or operational efficiency of its portfolio of interventions.

Eighteen months on, GiveDirectly has successfully delivered household grants totaling $5,776,282 to 11,546 households --surpassing the intended number of beneficiaries. The operational approach included a number of critical innovations and tests designed to drive progress in cash programming in Malawi, which in turn aims to inform the national Social Cash Transfer Program.

While the endline survey for the randomized controlled trial study will not be conducted until early 2021 (with results available later in the year), this operational data combined with feedback from recipients through follow-up surveys can already shed important light on the effectiveness and potential impact of household grants programming in Malawi. Specifically, we can confidently conclude that:

  1. Large, lump-sum cash grants can be delivered efficiently and securely through electronic payments to rural and remote communities (77% of each dollar of the program ended up in the hands of recipients).
  2. Malawi’s new National ID can and should be rolled out at scale as an effective tool for beneficiary selection, enrollment, and accountability.
  3. Building out a dedicated, beneficiary focused call center can improve program efficiency rates, uptake rates, reduce fraud rates, and improve recipient experience.
  4. Robust community engagement and sensitization is critical for effective, safe, secure, and recipient-responsive program delivery.
  5. Incorporating no cost behavioral nudges into cash transfer programming shows potential as a mechanism to address context specific challenges and increase program impact.
  6. Electronic cash grants can be an extremely effective means of delivering assistance rapidly, securely and remotely in response to major humanitarian challenges.
Issuing Country 
Wednesday, April 14, 2021 - 4:45am

Last updated: April 28, 2021