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Study Overview

Afghanistan Safety Nets Evaluation
Study is 3ie funded:
Study ID:
Initial Registration Date:
Last Update Date:
Study Status:
In Development

The primary objective of this evaluation is to estimate the causal impact of an unconditional cash transfer on the ability of the poorest families in select districts in Afghanistan to smooth consumption during seasonal shocks (e.g., winter-related, agricultural, and water shocks). Secondarily, the study will assess intervention effects on other economic outcomes, ownership and preservation of assets, child wellbeing (including nutrition, education, and refrainment from labor), migration, psychological well-being, and confidence in institutions. The target population consists of the poorest quintile of families with children under the age of five. Unconditional cash transfers will be provided to poor families in three installments: before, at the beginning, and at the end of the lean season. The annual benefit will amount to approximately 8,500 AFN (125 USD) for families with one more child under five; each payment installment is of equal amount.

Registration Citation:

Morton, M. and Pop, L.B., 2016. Afghanistan Safety Nets Evaluation. Registry for International Development for Impact Evaluations (RIDIE). Available at: 10.23846/ridie087

Health, Nutrition, and Population
Social Protection
Additional Keywords:
Social Safety Nets, Unconditional cash transfers, Impact evaluation, Cluster randomized controlled trial, Afghanistan
Secondary ID Number(s):
P113421 (World Bank Group - Project ID)

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Matthew Morton
The World Bank
Name of Second PI:
Lucian Bucur Pop
The World Bank

Study Sponsor

World Bank
Study Sponsor Location:
United States

Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled
Type of Organization:
Government agency (eg., statistics office, Ministry of Health)

Intervention Overview


The main objective of the proposed Afghanistan Social Protection Program (ASPP) is to provide financial support to very poor families of mothers with children under the age of five years in Afghanistan. The program also aims to establish an effective platform for beneficiary selection and payment delivery. The target group for the present program is very poor families (in the bottom poverty quintile) with children of 0-5 years of age. Unconditional cash transfers will be provided to eligible poor families in three installments—before, at the beginning, and at the end of the lean season (winter-spring). The annual benefit will amount to approximately 8,500 AFN (125 USD) per family with one or more children under five; each payment installment is of equal amount. The targeting involves community mobilization combined with proxy-means testing. Depending on the district, payments will be made either through mobile payment or bank payment--both with payment agents to increase accessibility. Mothers are the direct beneficiaries but may designate alternative payment beneficiaries.

Theory of Change:
Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, Government of Afghanistan
Type of Organization:
Public Sector, e.g. Government Agency or Ministry

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
World Bank
Type of Organization:
Foreign or Multilateral Aid Agency

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 (not Listed) Method:

Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

The impact evaluation involves a cluster-randomized controlled trial (C-RCT) design. Community Development Councils (CDCs) will be randomly assigned to either an intervention or waitlist comparison group, and changes in outcomes among sampled eligible households will be compared between the intervention and comparison group after the intervention group’s first annual cycle of cash transfers. All consenting households included in the study sample will be surveyed once at baseline (between program registration and the intervention group’s first round of transfers), again at approximately 9 months midline(after the second payment), and finally at approximately 15 months endline (after the third payment and before the control communities begin receiving payments). Due to the nature of the experiment, the allocation will not be “blinded” for the service providers, beneficiaries and interviewers at end line (though it will be at baseline).

Outcomes (Endpoints):

PRIMARY OUTCOME VARIABLES: -Food consumption: Household food consumption in the last 7 days -Food insecurity: Number of days for which an adult in the household had inadequate food during the last 30 days; Number of days for which a child in the household had inadequate food during the last 30 days -Household food diversity -Child dietary diversity SECONDARY OUTCOMES VARIABLES: -Ownership and preservation of assets -School attendance for schooling-age children: Change in school attendance status for schooling-age children in the last 12 months -Refrainment from child labor: Prevalence of child labor in the household for children aged 5 – 14 years, in the last 7 days; hours spent working in the last week -Gender dynamics and female decision-making -Psychological wellbeing -Migration: Incidence of household members leaving the community to other domestic and international destinations for work, school, marriage, and other reasons

Unit of Analysis:

PRIMARY HYPOTHESIS Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) will reduce seasonal fluctuations to food consumption and thereby strengthen food security among very poor families in select Afghan districts. SECONDARY HYPOTHESIS UCT will have positive impact on children's wellbeing, preservation and ownership of assets, adults’ psychological wellbeing, and gender dynamics and women’s agency. OTHER EXPLORATORY QUESTIONS What is the impact of UCTs on migration? Does cash do harm?

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
Community Development Council (CDC) catchment areas (community)
Number of Clusters in Sample:
130 CDCs
Number of Individuals in Sample:
2400 Households
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
65 intervention CDCs and 65 control CDCs

Supplementary Files

Analysis Plan:

Outcomes Data

Two quantitative instruments, each with multiple modules, will be used in each household. One instrument is designed for a male household representative. The other instrument is designed for the female household representative. If a household lacks a male or female beneficiary/household head, both survey instruments, for male and female, will be asked from the same available respondent. Specific questions that can only be answered by a male or a female respondent will be skipped in such cases.
Data Already Collected?
Data Previously Used?
Data Access:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
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Approval Status:

Treatment Assignment Data

Participation or Assignment Information:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Previously Used?
Data Access:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Approval Process:
Approval Status:

Data Analysis

Data Analysis Status:

Study Materials

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Registration Category

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

Completion Overview

Intervention Completion Date:
Data Collection Completion Date:
Unit of Analysis:
Clusters in Final Sample:
Total Observations in Final Sample:
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:


Preliminary Report:
Preliminary Report URL:
Summary of Findings:
Paper Summary:
Paper Citation:

Data Availability

Data Availability (Primary Data):
Date of Data Availability:
Data URL or Contact:
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Other Materials

Survey Instrument Links or Contact:
Program Files:
Program Files Links or Contact:
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External Link Description:
Description of Changes:

Study Stopped