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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural and Applied Economics
Title Three Essays on Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: Multidimensional Poverty Change in Zimbabwe; Long-Term Impact of Cash Transfers in Niger; and Targeting Efficiency of Social Protection Programs in Cameroon
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL http://search.proquest.com/openview/1b8fccd807b874297fcfaa53b7244651/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1875​0&diss=y
This dissertation focuses on identifying the poor in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the
potential of social assistance programs to address their condition. Each essay is related to
one particular key step of the poverty alleviation agenda: poverty definition and
measurement in Zimbabwe; targeting poor households in Cameroon; and impact
evaluation of anti-poverty interventions in Niger.
The first essay explores changes in poverty across multiple dimensions in a period of
dramatic economic crisis and recovery in Zimbabwe. The essay analyzes changes in
household well-being between 2001, 2007 and 2011/12, using an Alkire-Foster
multidimensional poverty index. Results indicate a large increase in multidimensional
poverty across between 2001 and 2007, followed by a (smaller) decrease in poverty
between 2007 and 2011/12 (recovery period after the hyperinflation peak in 2008).
However, decomposition of the index shows significantly different trends in poverty
dimensions over time, as for instance health related dimensions continued to deteriorate
after 2007.
The second essay contributes to the policy debate on targeting by studying the ex-post
efficiency of two targeting mechanisms employed in a cash transfer project in rural
Cameroon: Proxy Means Testing (PMT) and community targeting. Results show a poor
performance of community targeting in selecting households with low per capita
consumption, compared to PMT targeting– whose errors remain high nonetheless.
Communities tend to select small, isolated households with low physical and human
capital, regardless of their actual consumption level, but produce variable outcomes.
Overall results suggest that a higher coverage contributes to reducing targeting errors,
and that better guidance should be provided to communities if the policy objective is to
select low per capita consumption individuals.
The third essay investigate whether cash transfers induce investments in assets and
productive activities that survive the termination of program payments using data from an
unconditional cash transfer project in Niger 18 months after its termination. Based on
quasi-experimental methods, results indicate that local saving/credit systems (tontines)
participation and livestock ownership significantly increased among project participants.
There is also evidence of improvement in private assets, micro-enterprises and
agriculture. The findings imply that cash transfer programs can have long-term
sustainable impacts in rural SSA

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