30 January 2013

Against cash transfers in South Sudan

A few quick thoughts on this recent article republished in the Sudan Tribune by the Auditor General of South Sudan, Steven W├Ându.

He makes 4 arguments against cash transfers

1. There is no clear definition of poverty in South Sudan
2. Targeting would be impossible
3. Delivery would be impossible
4. Cash transfers won't increase productivity

I'd suggest that the first two issues could be resolved by instituting a universal child benefit. No poverty targeting to worry about. Delivery systems could reasonably quickly be created by mobile phone companies if the government committed to start pushing serious money through this system. And finally that cash transfers surely will increase productivity down the road if they have an impact on child malnutrition, but that the productivity effects should not be our highest concern when there are people who are literally starving.

Update: I should credit Joe Hanlon with the child benefit idea (here and here), and also note the Blattman vs Banerjee debate on the subject from 2011.


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