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Cash Transfers in Lesotho: An evaluation of World Vision’s Cash and Food Transfers Pilot Project

2008 — By Michael Mhlanga, Stephen Devereux

The Cash and Food Transfers Pilot Project (CFTPP) was designed and implemented as World Vision‟s contribution to the humanitarian response to the 2007/08 food crisis in Lesotho. This crisis was triggered by Lesotho‟s worst drought in 30 years, which reduced maize yields by 42% and left an estimated 553,000 people (approximately 25% of the national population) in need of emergency assistance. a feasibility study was commissioned by World Vision which concluded that, since 70% of Lesotho‟s food requirements are imported even in good years, food markets are well-functioning and resilient, so cash transfers would be an appropriate intervention.

The CFTPP delivered cash and/or food transfers to 9,172 households, or 41,200 beneficiaries, every month for six months from December 2007 to May 2008. Of these, 3,824 households received „cash only‟ while 2,676 households received a „cash plus food‟ combination – equivalent to a full food ration, half in food (cereals, pulses and cooking oil) and half in cash (enough to buy the same commodities in local markets at November 2007 prices). A further 2,672 households received full food rations and acted as a control group against which to compare impacts. Cash transfers were provided by World Vision and food rations were provided by the World Food Programme (WFP). The objectives of the CFTPP were to provide access to basic food for vulnerable households through the 2007/08 „hunger period‟ until the next harvest, and to build World Vision‟s capacity in cash transfer programming and learn lessons for World Vision in Lesotho and elsewhere.

This evaluation assesses whether the CFTPP achieved its objectives. It draws on internal project monitoring documents and other secondary sources, as well as a survey of 940 beneficiaries and 235 non-beneficiaries, 18 focus group discussions and interviews with key informants that were conducted specifically for this report. The evaluation is divided between design and process aspects (targeting, assistance packages, cash transfer values, delivery mechanisms) and project impacts (uses of cash and food transfers, food security and hunger, coping strategies, assets and livelihoods, borrowing and saving behaviour, markets and communities).