Studying impacts of a humanitarian cash transfer program in Colombia
People displaced because of humanitarian crises around the world face immense challenges meeting basic needs, accessing public services and livelihood support. In Colombia, the ADN Dignidad program provides unconditional cash transfers to Venezuelan migrants, Colombian returnees and host communities to help recipients access basic food, non-food items, and shelter. To study its effectiveness in aiding the displaced individuals, 3ie recently completed an impact evaluation of the program implemented by Action Against Hunger, Danish Refugee Council (DRC), and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).
Cash transfers improve outcomes for migrants in Colombia
The impact evaluation conducted by 3ie in the context of the Venezuelan migration situation contributes to filling important knowledge gaps in understanding the impact of humanitarian assistance efforts. In this blog, we explain how the study of a multipurpose cash transfer program for displaced Venezuelans, Colombian returnees and host communities was designed and share findings on its impacts on migrants' incomes, food security, savings, and labor force participation rates, among others.
Colombia is home to more than 2.4 million Venezuelan migrants, making it one of the largest displacement movements in the world. Sixty percent of them have irregular access to public services and very few coping strategies to support their integration. Understanding how to support these displaced populations is imperative. Despite cash transfers being well-established as an effective development tool, little is known about their effectiveness in aiding displaced populations in the Latin America context. 3ie’s impact evaluation contributes to filling this gap by answering critical questions about the effectiveness of unconditional cash transfers for improving the lives of displaced individuals (both displaced Venezuelans and Colombian returnees) and their household conditions.
The ADN Dignidad program aims to improve access to basic food and non-food items, and shelter through the provision of up to six months of unconditional multipurpose cash assistance (MPCA) transfers of approximately $ 100 USD per recipient household and reaches close to 220,000 migration situation-affected individuals. To leverage the impact of the MPCA, the project provided nutritional messaging aimed at maximizing the nutritional impact of the MPCA transfers. The program also focuses on how to improve the overall protective environment for target groups by increasing their awareness of locally available and legally accessible social protection (education and health) and legal services.
To assess this program, the 3ie and the ADN Dignidad teams used a Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD) that leveraged the program’s clearly established and well-implemented rules of operation.
We analyzed the impacts of ADN Dignidad on intermediate and primary outcomes collected on an endline survey of 3,190 applicants approximately one to three months after concluding the program. The outcome categories of interest included economic security, food security coping strategies, use of financial and human capital-diminishing coping strategies, and psychosocial and quality of life indicators.
The study shows both economically and statistically significant improvements along various dimensions of the quality of life of migrants in Colombia who received cash assistance through the ADN Dignidad program. These findings are largely consistent with the nascent literature examining cash transfers as humanitarian assistance tools for refugees and forcibly displaced populations and fill an important knowledge gap given the scope and depth of the current Venezuelan migrant crisis.