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Study Overview

Promoting coherence between disaster risk reduction, climate action and social protection in Malawi
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The project “Promoting coherence between disaster risk reduction, climate action and social protection in Malawi” aims to support poor and vulnerable households to strengthen their resilience to climate change and climate variability through social protection (SP) and the adoption of proven Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices blended with Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). FAO Malawi leads the implementation of the project in two targeted districts of Mwanza and Neno, targeting 2,400 farmers, some of them being beneficiaries of existing SP programs. At community level, the project is implemented through the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach and delivered through 80 FFS groups located in 74 villages.

Registration Citation:
Agriculture and Rural Development
Social Protection
Additional Keywords:
Farmer Field Schools; Climate Change; Cash and in-kind transfers; Climate Smart Agriculture
Secondary ID Number(s):

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Silvio Daidone
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Name of Second PI:
Nicholas Sitko
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Study Sponsor

Irish Aid
Study Sponsor Location:

Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
MultiConsult Africa
Type of Organization:
Private firm

Intervention Overview


The standard package of support provided by the project includes the following elements: CSA training, farming as a business training, and an enterprise grant disbursed collectively to each of the 80 FFS groups. To this standard packet, the project randomly provided some combination of the following forms of support to the beneficiaries: 1) In-kind transfer for CSA related inputs comprising maize and pigeon peas seeds, basal and top-dressing fertilizers and inoculants for pigeon pea seeds. 2) Cash transfer equivalent in value to CSA input packet.

Theory of Change:

The expected impact of the project is to increase the food and nutrition security and the resilience of poor and vulnerable farmers of targeted communities. This will be delivered through three different and reinforcing outputs: 1) Uptake and upscaling of proven Climate Smart Agriculture and Disaster Risk Reduction practices and sustainable management of natural resources among poor and vulnerable farming households; 2) Diversity of sustainable and resilient livelihoods and regular income generating activities increased among beneficiary households; 3) Predictable, adequate and regular support provided to target households in the face of a climate related shock affecting agricultural livelihoods.

Knowledge transfer in targeted communities will be facilitated  through formal and non-farmal education, especially via Farmer FIeld Schools (FFS). Further, cash and in-kind transfers are supposed  to enhance and strengthen the adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture techniques, by relaxing liquidity constraints faced by farmers in targeted communities. The FFS approach will also promote financial and business development skills, group sagvings and loan schemes, while providing group enterprise start-up grants and facilitating the selection of a group income generating activitiy, which is climate change adaptive. Finally, Early Warning (EW) Indicators will be established for one or two priority hazards identified in the vulnerability and risk assessment done at the baseline.

Potential project risks include:

  • Lack of commitment from local district authorities, project staff and beneficiaries may have an impact on overall project delivery.
  • Unforeseeable natural hazard threats like extended drought.
Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
FAO Malawi
Type of Organization:
Foreign or Multilateral Aid Agency

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
Flanders Cooperation (FLA) Multilateral
Type of Organization:
Public Sector, e.g. Government Agency or Ministry

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
Start Date:
End Date:
Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Randomized control trial
Other (not Listed) Method:
Additional Evaluation Method (If Any):
Other (specify)
Other (not Listed) Method:
Inverse probability weighted regression adjustment (IPWRA)

Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

To evaluate impacts of the project, we use a crossover design to compare the relative merits of its different components, and combine various evaluation methods. The FFS groups were selected randomly into one of three groups:

  • T1: receives the standard packet of CSA training, farming as business training, and an enterprise grant for the FFS
  • T2: Standard packet + voucher restricted to CSA input packet
  • T3: Standard packet + cash voucher equivalent to the CSA packet

A fourth group (C) of farmers receive the same CSA packet offered to group T2, without being involved in the FFS. This fourth group comes from neighbouring communities within the same districts and beneficiary farmers were deemed to be selected in the same way of farmers in the FFS.

This design allows calculating different types of impacts at the project level in relation to the outcomes and outputs of interest:

  1. The differential impact of the CSA input package (T2 vs. T1)
  2. The differential impact of cash (T3 vs. T1)
  3. The relative effectiveness of CSA input package vis-à-vis the cash (T3 vs. T2)
  4. The impact of the standard packet (T2 vs. C)

Impacts described in bullets 1, 2 and 3 will be estimated experimentally, while impacts described in bullet 4 will be estimated non-experimentally through a difference-in-difference approach.


Outcomes (Endpoints):

We calculate summary indexes by adopting the standardized weighted mean approach of Anderson (2008), where we use the comparison group as the default reference group for the standardization. We compute the following index variables:

  • Income diversification
  • Crop diversification
  • Agricultural practices
  • Food security
  • Climate information
  • Coping strategies


Unit of Analysis:
Farmer / Household

Hypothesis 1: Cash and inputs transfers will increase food security.

Hypothesis 2: Cash transfers will increase income diversification.

Hypothesis 3: Cash and input transfers will increase adoption of positive coping-strategies.

Hypothesis 4: Participation in FFS activities will increase: a) adoption of climate smart agricultural practices; b) access to climate information; c) adoption of positive coping-strategies.

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
Number of Clusters in Sample:
Number of Individuals in Sample:
1,886 households/farmers
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
553 households in 25 comparison clusters; 1,333 households in 74 experimental clusters

Supplementary Files

Analysis Plan:
Malawi FMM-GLO-148-MUL Pre-analysis plan.pdf
Other Documents:

Outcomes Data

The household/farmer questionnaire includes the following modules: Roster, time use and wage labor, Land, Crop production, Fruits and vegetables, Livestock holding, Livestock by-products, Agricultural assets, Agricultural inputs expenses, Non-farm enterprises, Hired labor, Non-timber forest products, Transfers, Decision-making, Access to information, Climate, COVID-19, Food insecurity, Housing, Credit
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Treatment Assignment Data

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Data Analysis

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Study Materials

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Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 1: Data for measuring impacts have not been collected

Completion Overview

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Unit of Analysis:
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Preliminary Report:
Preliminary Report URL:
Summary of Findings:
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Data Availability

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Other Materials

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Description of Changes:

Study Stopped