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Comparison of the effects of conditional food and cash transfers of the Ethiopian Productive Safety Net Program on household food security and dietary diversity in the face of rising food prices: ways forward for a more nutrition-sensitive program



Comparison of the effects of conditional food and cash transfers of the Ethiopian Productive Safety Net Program on household food security and dietary diversity in the face of rising food prices: ways forward for a more nutrition-sensitive program



Food and Nutrition Bulletin 35(3): 289-295



In light of the continuing rise in food prices during and after the 2008 world food crisis, whether food and cash transfers are equally effective in improving food security and diet quality is debatable. To compare the effects of conditional food and cash transfers of the Ethiopian Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) on household food security and dietary diversity. Data on household dietary diversity, child anthropometry, food security, and preference of transfer modalities (food, cash, or mixed) were generated from a cross-sectional survey of 195 PSNP beneficiary households (67 receiving food and 128 receiving cash) in Hawella Tulla District, Sidama, southern Ethiopia. Most beneficiaries (96%) reported food shortages, and 47% reported food shortages that exceeded 3 months. Households receiving cash had better household dietary diversity scores (p = .02) and higher consumption of oils and fats (p = .003) and vitamin A-rich foods (p = .002). Compared with households receiving food, households receiving cash were more affected by increases in food prices that forced them to reduce their number of daily meals (p < .001) and spend less on nonstaples (p < .001). While most households receiving food (82%) preferred to continue receiving food, households receiving cash (56%) preferred a mix of food and cash. Households receiving cash had better household dietary diversity than households receiving food, a result suggesting that cash transfers may be more effective. However, the continuing rise infood prices may offset these benefits unless cash transfers are index-linked to food price fluctuations.

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