The effect of cash transfers and household vulnerability on food security in Zimbabwe
This article (PDF) in the Food Policy journal studies the impact of the Zimbabwe Harmonized Social Cash Transfer (HSCT), an unconditional cash transfer, on household food security. To address the challenge of growing food insecurity, implementation and scale up of effective social protection programs is required. Cash transfers are a policy instrument that can help build household resiliency in obtaining access to food. This paper investigates two things. Firstly, it compares an aggregate consumption expenditure measure versus a food security scale to assess household vulnerability and food insecurity. Secondly, it researches the effects of state-sponsored unconditional cash transfers in Africa on household behavior and food security. Results show that household vulnerability correlates more strongly with the food security scale than with aggregate food consumption. Moreover, the impact analysis of HSCT reveals that food consumption is inadequate in assessing food security, since it hides dynamic activity that is taking place within the household that produces robust results for household diet diversity. Therefore, relying on an aggregate food consumption measure is inadequate. The impact of the HSCT is significant for the food security and diet diversity scores. The unconditional cash transfer by the state enabled households to make market purchases to diversify their diet by market purchases increase, rely less on gifts and aid, as well as diversify their own production. This paper builds on previous research by providing evidence of the multidimensionality of food security and subsequently the usefulness of relying on a combination of measures to assess failure/success of a program/policy instrument.