CLEAR-AA Supports Evaluation on Unintended Consequences from COVID-19 Cash Intervention in Malawi
GEI, in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s COVID-19 Global Evaluation Coalition, is providing technical and financial support to governments who are interested in evaluating their national responses to COVID-19. The primary objectives of these evaluations are to: (i) generate evaluative evidence on the performance and results of national policy responses in the context of COVID-19; (ii) provide valuable lessons for future global crises around the implementation of complex, multi-sectoral policy responses; and (iii) to improve collaboration among financing and implementing partners to support collective learning and optimise the use of evaluative evidence.
As part of this initiative, the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Division of Malawi's Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs commissioned an evaluation titled: "Unintended Consequences of COVID-19 Mitigation: Evidence from Malawi’s COVID-19 Urban Cash Intervention (CUCI)." The Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results Anglophone Africa (CLEAR-AA), has played a crucial role in supporting this evaluation. They have recently worked in partnership with the Ministry to co-design and co-implement qualitative research activities.
The CUCI programme was introduced as a social protection initiative aimed at alleviating COVID-19-induced vulnerabilities among impoverished urban residents across the four major cities in Malawi. This evaluation is serving as an important contribution to gaining a comprehensive understanding of the broader impact of the government and development partners' measures designed to mitigate the health, nutritional, and socio-economic effects of the pandemic on the urban poor population. It seeks to explore whether the cash transfers generated additional effects that either complemented or countered the original intervention objectives.
The possible unintended effects explored include changes in intimate partner dynamics within recipient households, specifically the effects on the incidence of domestic violence; changes in labor participation, in response to changes in general household welfare; and because the cash was distributed using mobile money accounts, evaluating the effect of the CUCI on the financial inclusion of the beneficiaries.
This country-led evaluation underscores the importance of embracing a systems approach and acknowledging the significance of cultural and contextual factors when assessing development and social protection initiatives. Following the development of a comprehensive evaluation proposal, CLEAR-AA conducted qualitative data collection during the months of July and August 2023, collaborating closely with the quantitative team from the Malawi Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs’ M&E Division and a policy researcher from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
This process involved conducting semi-structured interviews with both beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of the program, as well as key informant interviews with the relevant ministries and partners responsible for the CUCI’s design and implementation. The team also engaged in joint sense-making to reflect on questions emerging from the data collection and improving shared understanding of the information arising from the interviews. The sense-making fieldwork notes will be used to develop a presentation of the preliminary qualitative findings, which together with the descriptive statistics from the quantitative component will be presented to the broader evaluation team in late September 2023.