The major recent innovation in policy responses to poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has been social cash transfer schemes (SCTs) which disburse cash to poor people. There is growing evidence that these address symptoms of poverty among their target populations, particularly children and the elderly. However, impact evaluations have paid minimal attention to their effects on young adults or generational relations.
Researchers increasingly recognise that poverty is produced through structural power relations including political and economic relations, and relations within and between social groups (based on social categorisations such as gender, age, generation and class). If the impacts of SCTs are to be fully understood, it is necessary to examine how they intervene in and are negotiated through these structural relationships.
This research project followed up previous surveys and detailed in-depth interviews with young people in Malawi and Lesotho, performed in 2007-2008. Both countries have since instituted contrasting SCTs: social pensions and child grants in Lesotho and SCTs to ultra-poor labour constrained households in Malawi.
The objective was to identify how SCTs operating in Malawi and Lesotho intervene in structural power relationships that shape young people’s lives and the consequences this has for young people's poverty trajectories. Furthermore, the research project aimed to examine how political and economic power relationships between national and international institutions are implicated in the design and implementation of SCT schemes.