Do cash transfers increase nutritional intakes? Experimental evidence from an unconditional cash transfer in Kenya

Toshiaki Aizawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Malnutrition due to persistent food insecurity has been a serious public health issue in Kenya. An unconditional cash transfer programme, the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP), was launched in 2009 in northern Kenya to reduce extreme poverty and to mitigate food insecurity. This study investigates the impact of the HSNP, on expenditure on food, types of food consumed and nutritional intake. Focusing on nutritional intake as well as spending and consumption is important because an unconditional cash transfer, which does not specify how the transferred money must be used, does not guarantee nutritional intake improvement. Converting food consumption data to caloric intake and nutrient content using food consumption databases, we calculate the intake of five macro-nutrients, seven vitamins and seven minerals and then estimate the impacts on nutritional intake 12 and 24 months after treatment exposure. This study finds the increased total expenditure on food items. Specifically, the beneficiary households increased their expenditure on milk and milk products and that on sugar after 12 months and expenditure on roots and tubers after 24 months. For consumption amounts, however, the HSNP did not show significant increases in all food categories except sugar. On the other hand, the HSNP improved the nutritional intakes of some macro- A nd micro-nutrients. The results show that beneficiary households substantially increased their intake of fat by 25.2% after 24 months and their intake of vitamin B12 by 36.6% and calcium by 34.9% after 12 months. The result does not yield sufficiently strong evidence that poorer households significantly enjoy greater improvements than other households.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-798
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Aug 1
Externally publishedYes


  • HSNP
  • Kenya
  • Nutritional intake
  • Unconditional cash transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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