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Supporting the Malawi government’s social cash transfer program

16 July 2021

IDinsight’s Learning Partnership with Malawi’s Ministry of Gender, Community Development, and Social Welfare provides data and evidence support to strengthen the impact of its cash transfer and social protection programs.

IDinsight's Natasha Siyumbwa presenting at a capacity building session for the government of Malawi.

Using Administrative Data to Inform Cash Transfer Programming - 3 MB

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An alternative approach to capacity building for African governments - 208 KB

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Decision-maker’s challenge

It can be incredibly challenging to establish and expand social protection and cash transfer programs – who should be targeted? How to roll out services to the most vulnerable people? There are many opportunities to use data and evidence to strengthen these approaches. To that end, IDinsight has been working with The Malawi Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare (MoGCDSW) since 2018 in an extended learning partnership that provides the ministry with data and evidence according to their evolving needs. The department oversees the Malawi government’s Social Cash Transfer Program (SCTP), which targets ultra-poor and labor-constrained households. Households in this unconditional cash transfer program receive transfers bi-monthly according to household size and whether the household has school-age children and children enrolled in school.

Impact opportunity

More than 50% of Malawi’s population lives below the national poverty line, with 25% considered “ultra-poor”. Around 70% of the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day per capita. IDinsight has an embedded learning partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Community Development, and Social Welfare to provide data and evidence support across the SCTP and social protection programs more broadly. The ultimate goal of the partnership is to increase the impact of the SCTP to reduce poverty in Malawi. As of 2020, the program reached more than one million individuals.

Our approach

As a learning partner of the MoGCDSW, IDinsight provides multifaceted services: analyzing existing program data, supporting the Ministry’s learning and internal capacity, and testing innovations to improve the long-term impact of the SCTP.

Our work includes:

  • Policy and strategy advice: including informing decisions on the design of the government’s social protection response to the pandemic using data and evidence, acting as a thought partner on the development of the SCTP’s five-year strategy to guide the program’s growth.
  • Data systems strengthening: This includes co-designing MIS dashboards to inform policy and to drive monitoring efficiency, monitoring large-scale data collection efforts, and conducting regular capacity-building workshops and individual sessions on data analysis skills, monitoring and evaluation, and deliverables. We also provide design and analysis support to the Ministry’s evaluation work.
  • Social protection ‘plus’: IDinsight is working with the Ministry to take a data-driven approach to target cash-plus programs to SCTP participants, and is co-designing a pilot linking SCTP participants to health and nutrition services at cash transfer pay points.

As part of our collaboration with the Government of Malawi, IDinsight is also working with the following government agencies/project management units:

  • Ministry of Economic Planning & Development, and Public Sector Reforms (EPDPSR): EPDPSR is the policyholder of social protection in Malawi. Therefore, as part of our work with the SCTP, Malawi’s largest social protection program, we also work closely with EPDPSR providing high level policy advice on the Ministry’s social protection policy monitoring frameworks and targeting methodology.
  • Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Board: IDinsight’s engagement with the NGO Board in Malawi began in February 2020. IDinsight supports the NGO board in developing a light-touch digitized database to support decision-making.
  • Financial Access for Rural Markets and Small Enterprises (FARMSE): IDinsight supported FARMSE’s ultra-poor graduation program on beneficiary selection (i.e. targeting) and the design and implementation of its monitoring and evaluation framework/system.

The results

IDinsight analysis and advice has supported the government’s decision-making abot the design and implementation of its social protection programming. We have built a long-standing relationship between the IDinsight team and government counterparts and our team is able to advise the government on emerging challenges and design issues.

External publications:

Social protection during the COVID-19 pandemic (NextBillion)

Advocacy with Borders: Responsible Grantmaking for Better Global Policy (Center for Effective Philanthropy)