The Impact of Cash and Food Transfers: Evidence from a randomized intervention in Niger
There is little rigorous evidence on the comparative impacts of cash and food transfers on food security and food-related outcomes. This paper assesses the relative impacts of receiving cash versus food transfers using a randomized design. Drawing on data collected in eastern Niger, the paper finds that households randomized to receive a food basket experienced larger, positive impacts on measures of food consumption and diet quality than those receiving the cash transfer. Receiving food also reduced the use of a number of coping strategies. These differences held both at the height of the lean season and after the harvest. However, households receiving cash spent more money on agricultural inputs. Less than 5 percent of food was sold or exchanged for other goods. Food and cash were delivered with the same degree of frequency and timeliness, but the food transfers cost 15 percent more to implement.