News from Prosperity and Resilience: Dr Eleanor Fisher

Dr Eleanor Fisher

Dr Eleanor Fisher

Dr Eleanor Fisher (SAPD) published ‘The livelihood impacts of cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa: beneficiary perspectives from six countries’ (2017) World Development 99, pp. 299-319 (with Attah, R., Barca, V., O’Brien, C., Brook, S., Holland, J., Kardan, A. and Pozarny, P.).

Eleanor says about the work: “In 2012 I became involved in an exciting new research programme on sub-Saharan Africa “From Protection to Production” led by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) with funding from the UK Department for International Development. This sought to examine whether cash transfers – relatively small, regular transfers of money that governments’ give to chronically poor and vulnerable people – could be used to enhance people’s livelihoods alongside traditional welfare objectives. Working with researchers at Oxford Policy Management, we designed and implemented a cross-country study that captured beneficiary perspectives from 36 communities across six African countries—Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Ghana. Research on cash transfers is dominated by large-scale quantitative impact evaluations. Our study was unique in proposing a participatory methodology that placed value on understanding the realities of cash transfers within the lived experiences of beneficiaries and those around them. We were inspired by the work of Robert Chambers, who has long argued that there is intrinsic importance in hearing the voices of poor people to understand how development affects them. To ensure we produced credible evidence for African governments and donors, our study implemented a rigorous sampling strategy using the same participatory methodology across countries and communities; this is extremely unusual for participatory, qualitative research.  Our study gives new insight into how CTs can have a positive impact on intangible dimensions of deprivation, such as dignity and experiences of social exclusion, and enables beneficiaries to make more strategic livelihood choices for themselves and their children.”

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