Malawi Presents COVID-19 Cash Intervention Findings, with GEI Support

Malawi Presents COVID-19 Urban Cash Intervention Findings, with GEI Support
Government officials and international development representatives attended the presentation of findings from the country-led evaluation of the COVID-19 Urban Cash Intervention (CUCI) in Malawi. The dissemination event was held on May 28 in Lilongwe.
05 June 2024

On May 28, evaluation findings from the COVID-19 Urban Cash Intervention (CUCI) and the Social Support for Resilience Livelihoods Project in Malawi were shared at an event in the south-east African country's capital, Lilongwe.  

More than 100 participants, including decision-makers from national and sub-national governments as well as international development partners, attended the event which was organized by the Malawi Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, the Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI), the World Bank Malawi Country Office, and the World Bank’s Development Impact Department.  

The aim of the event was to present stakeholders with the findings of the evaluations, raise awareness of social protection programs, improve coordination among stakeholders, and highlight the role of evaluations in social protection programming and implementation in Malawi.  

“This evidence that we will discuss here will help us see where we were, where we are, and going forward, what it is that we can improve,” said the Honorable Jean Muonaowauza Sendeza MP, Minister of Gender, Community Development, and Social Welfare, during her keynote address at the event.   

The CUCI evaluation was carried out by the Malawi Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs with technical support from GEI, the Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results for Anglophone Africa (CLEAR-AA) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is expected that the findings from both evaluations will inform future policy decisions to ensure that social protection initiatives are more effective.  

“Very encouraging to see that once off emergency cash transfers have long-lasting positive impacts. Reduced estimate of partner violence and increased savings and investment in small businesses are just a few examples of what has happened," said Efrem Chilima, World Bank Acting Country Manager in Malawi. "This really demystifies what has normally been the negative myth around social protection interventions.”  

The CUCI was designed to support urban poor populations in Malawi's major cities—Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba, and Mzuzu—to mitigate the negative health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the program targeted 35% of Malawi’s urban population, providing MK 35,000 (US$42.72) per month for three months. A second round of cash transfers was completed in 2023. Overall, more than 300,000 households benefited from the program, which was implemented by the Government of Malawi with support from development partners including the World Bank, KfW, the European Union, GIZ, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, and the International Labour Organization. 

Several evaluations and studies have explored the intended impacts of using cash transfers as a social protection instrument. However, few evaluations have focused on the unintended impacts these programs have on both beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries. Building on an existing evaluation that examined the CUCI’s intended effects, the evaluation explored three dimensions of unintended effects: intra-household tensions and intimate partner violence, labor market participation, and food insecurity.  

From February 2023 to April 2024, evaluators conducted an extensive literature review, quasi-experimental statistical analysis, and qualitative data analysis. Through household surveys and in-depth interviews, the evaluation team engaged with beneficiaries and other stakeholders to gain a deep understanding of CUCI's unintended impacts.  

"It is our hope that this evaluation will contribute to informing the design and implementation of current and future interventions on social protection in Malawi," said Sophie Kang’oma, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at the Malawi Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs. "Evaluation that lacks utilization is the same as the cloud without rain."  

The evaluation received financial (and in-kind support) from World Bank Operations (Social Protection) in Malawi and The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This initiative was part of a broader collaboration between GEI and the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s Global Evaluation Coalition, which aims to provide technical and financial support to governments evaluating their national policy response to COVID-19.  

At the event, GEI reaffirmed its commitment to supporting evaluation capacity in Malawi. Continued collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and other stakeholders will focus on finalizing the CUCI evaluation report and disseminating its findings widely before the end of the year. These efforts aim to strengthen Malawi's national evaluation system, ensuring sustainable and impactful social protection programs.