Unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) are used as a humanitarian intervention to prevent acute malnutrition, despite a lack of evidence about their effectiveness.
In Niger, UCTs and supplementary feeding are given during the June–September “lean season,” although admissions of malnourished children to feeding programmes may rise from March/April. This study hypothesised that earlier initiation of the UCT would reduce the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) in children 6-59 months old in programme participant households and at the population level.
Although the study observed a temporary increase in food security for programme participants in the pre-lean season, there was no evidence that starting the UCT 2 months earlier and providing the same amount of cash over a longer period, together with 4 months of supplementary feeding, would be beneficial to children's nutritional status. There is already evidence that cash usually needs to be combined with complementary interventions to impact on nutrition.