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Open Access Research article

Social acceptability and perceived impact of a community-led cash transfer programme in Zimbabwe

Morten Skovdal1*, Phyllis Mushati2, Laura Robertson3, Shungu Munyati2, Lorraine Sherr4, Constance Nyamukapa23 and Simon Gregson23

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Promotion and Development, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

2 Biomedical Research and Training Institute, Harare, Zimbabwe

3 School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK

4 Department of Infection and Population Health, University College London, London, UK

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:342  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-342

Published: 15 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Cash transfer programmes are increasingly recognised as promising and scalable interventions that can promote the health and development of children. However, concerns have been raised about the potential for cash transfers to contribute to social division, jealousy and conflict at a community level. Against this background, and in our interest to promote community participation in cash transfer programmes, we examine local perceptions of a community-led cash transfer programme in Eastern Zimbabwe.

Methods

We collected and analysed data from 35 individual interviews and three focus group discussions, involving 24 key informants (community committee members and programme implementers), 24 cash transfer beneficiaries, of which four were youth, and 14 non-beneficiaries. Transcripts were subjected to thematic analysis and coding to generate concepts.

Results

Study participants described the programme as participatory, fair and transparent – reducing the likelihood of jealousy. The programme was perceived to have had a substantial impact on children’s health and education, primarily through aiding parents and guardians to better cater for their children’s needs. Moreover, participants alluded to the potential of the programme to facilitate more transformational change, for example by enabling families to invest money in assets and income generating activities and by promoting a community-wide sense of responsibility for the support of orphaned and vulnerable children.

Conclusion

Community participation, combined with the perceived impact of the cash transfer programme, led community members to speak enthusiastically about the programme. We conclude that community-led cash transfer programmes have the potential to open up for possibilities of participation and community agency that enable social acceptability and limit social divisiveness.

Keywords:
Cash transfers; Social protection; Incentives; Child health; Community participation HIV/AIDS; Zimbabwe