Improving the Enrollment Process of a Social Cash Transfer Program

Client: World Food Program, Zambia Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health
Location: Zambia
Sector: Livelihoods, Social Protection
Dates of service: 2014-2015
IDinsight service: Decision-focused evaluation, process evaluation
IDinsight contact: Paul Wang, Alison Connor
Status: Completed

The Problem

Cash transfer programs have been shown to be effective at improving welfare outcomes for the most vulnerable communities in Zambia (Seidenfeld, Handa, and Tembo 2013). Since 2004, the Government of the Republic of Zambia’s Social Cash Transfer Program (SCT) has offered cash assistance to Zambia’s poorest families. At the time of the evaluation, the SCT, run by the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health (MCDMCH), was operational in 19 districts and was planned to be scaled-up nationwide. This planned expansion of SCT benefits provided an opportunity to improve the program’s enrollment process, which had been labor-intensive and vulnerable to error.

Evidence Needs

The World Food Program (WFP) sought to examine how a transition to electronic data collection methods (“m-tech”) could affect the SCT’s enrollment process. WFP engaged IDinsight to conduct an evaluation in order to determine which method of enumeration and registration system (paper versus m-tech) was fast, accurate, affordable, intelligible, and scalable.

IDinsight Service

As part of this project, IDinsight provided several services. Firstly, IDinsight conducted an impact evaluation to compare the accuracy and quality of the paper versus the m-tech systems. This quantitative evaluation involved a matched pair approach, where each enumerator’s performance with paper surveys was compared to his/her performance with m-tech. Secondly, IDinsight completed process evaluations to identify the operational and financial considerations of paper and m-tech systems. Thirdly, IDinsight conducted a stakeholder analysis to examine stakeholder roles and to compare perceptions of paper and m-tech.


Overall, the m-tech solution was found to perform at the same level as the paper system. This finding was attributed to several key challenges, which needed to be addressed in order to realize the full potential of m-tech. Amongst the identified challenges were the programming of the m-tech application, which was found to create inconsistencies in the data, as well as poor network connections and limited power supply.


As a result of IDinsight’s work, the MCDMCH decided to conduct another pilot of m-tech data collection with an improved application and improved processes before moving forward with a nationwide scale-up.