When it comes to poverty alleviation in the developing world, cash transfer schemes have been at the center of a difficult debate. For years, donor agencies and governments were urged to integrate the poor into their economies by providing them with a basic amount of cash. Yet those programs have been dogged by controversies, with critics arguing they encourage dependency, negatively impact labor, and pit community members against each other.
Using evidence collected in eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa over a decade, a new paper dispels some of these common misperceptions about unconditional cash transfers in Africa. The research was conducted through the Transfer Project, a multi-partner initiative that includes the UN agencies for children and food, national governments besides national and international researchers. Unconditional cash transfers, or UCT, are different from universal basic income in that they are time-bound and are given to poor households who make spending decisions consistent with their needs.