INCLUDE Platform

NWO-WOTRO has recently awarded funding to seven research projects on inclusive development in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the next two years, the projects will investigate the cost-effectiveness of social protection interventions to realise inclusive growth. The projects are awarded in the third call for proposals that was developed by NWO-WOTRO and the Knowledge Platform on Development Policies INCLUDE and is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The goal of the projects is to enhance inclusive growth in low and middle income countries (LMICs) by analysing the links between social protection and inclusive growth. Specifically, the projects will increase the insight in the cost-effectiveness of social protection interventions, compared to other social policies with the same objective.

The impact of social protection interventions on inclusive growth will be assessed on the level of intermediate inclusive growth objectives, such as the accumulation of human capital, (investment in, protection and accumulation of) productive assets, labor participation, building collective citizenship rights and the generation of local multipliers and spillover effects.

The research approach will be on comparative, country-case studies, with focus on the medium and long term impact on household or community level. Consortia consisting of at least two research organisations from across the globe, including at least one from a specified LMIC, will conduct the research project. The budget of the combined projects is approximately two million euros.

Visit the programme page here.


Granted projects on Social Protection:

  • Comparing the impact and cost effectiveness of two social protection interventions in Kenya: fee waiver versus social health insurance scheme
    Principal investigator: Prof. Ch.T.M. Elbers (VU Amsterdam)
    Elber’s project should lead to informed policy advice on the most cost-effective strategies to target social protection programmes, deliver quality care, increase utilisation and reduce out-of-pocket expenditures. The research objective is to compare the cost-effectiveness of (i) waving the user fees, against (ii) a social health insurance scheme. The project aims to determine the transmission channel from the short-term impact of the two approaches to medium-term inclusive growth. Two existing programmes will be used and compared.


  • Social Protection for Inclusive Development in the Afar Region of Ethiopia
    Principal investigator: Dr. Z. Fre (Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa, UK)
    The overall aim of Fre’s project is to evaluate policies and practices that are already in place, and to come up with new and alternative policy options on ways to speed up the process of livelihood improvement among the pastoral Afar in Ethiopia. The project focuses on designing ways by which inclusive growth could better be attained through, among others, measures of social protection. The research project will assess the social institutions and the impacts of the Productive Safety Net Program in the Afar Region through mapping out the challenges and the policy learning opportunities.


  • Building the economic case for investments in social protection in Uganda
    Principal investigator: Dr. F Gassmann (UNU-MERIT)
    Gassmann’s project will perform a comparative cost-effectiveness analysis in Uganda of the Expanding Social Protection (ESP) flagship programme SAGE (Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment) and three alternative programmes, using a mixed-method approach. The main objective is to provide rigorous evidence of the potential inclusive growth effects of social transfers. This will be accomplished by generating empirical evidence of the pathways from social transfers to human capital development, household productive capacities, and local economy outcomes. The research will also assess the desirability of implementing SAGE at national scale.


  • The Cost Effectiveness of Integrating Weather Index Agricultural Insurance into the Productive Safety Net Program in Ethiopia
    Principal investigator: Prof. H.L. Wong (Lingnan University, Hong Kong)
    Wong’s project aims to provide scientific and policy recommendations on the use of agricultural weather insurance as an additional component in the Ethiopian safety net programme.
    The project will compare three groups: 1) Poor households receiving benefits from the existing Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP); 2) Poor PSNP households receiving also Weather Index Insurance (WII) as in-kinds; and 3) Poor PSNP households receiving additional conditional cash transfers (CCT). The insights from this project will be useful for future design on social protection programmes and for economic and agricultural development.


  • Inclusive growth through social protection in maternal health programs in Kenya. Can the voucher system compared to the free maternity policy in Kenya contribute to equitable access to care, to better health outcomes, and to greater economic resilience on the household level?
    Principal investigator: Dr S Merten (Swiss Tropical Institute, Switzerland)
    Merten’s project compares the effectiveness of provider and demand-side-financing approaches in healthcare services in selected sites in Kenya. It aims at (i) evaluating the cost effectiveness (cost-benefit) of the maternity voucher system as compared to the free maternity services in Kenya’s public health facilities; (ii) establishing how best to allocate scarce financial resources across the two interventions in order to generate highest possible access to maternal health services by women while enhancing the resilience of all households (asset protection). (iii) exploring the internal perspective of how the voucher system is perceived and integrated in the local economy as compared to free maternity services. (iv) investigating what alternative ways households are using to mobilise resources for healthcare, and whether this involves other social protection schemes such as micro credits or health insurance mechanisms. An important aspect is the level of participation of the community in the designing of these schemes.


  • Breaking the Vicious Circle between Poverty and Ill-Health. Are cash transfers and social health protection policies in Ghana and Kenya mutually complementing?
    Principal investigator: Dr. N.R.M. Pouw (University of Amsterdam)
    Pouw’s project aims at developing new strategic knowledge on the effectiveness of cash transfer programmes and social health protection policies in Ghana and Kenya. The focus will be on the accumulation of health-related human capital and its spill-over effects on further intermediate inclusive growth objectives, such as labour participation, asset accumulation and equality. It seeks to understand if and under which conditions these policies are mutually complementary. This will be achieved by engaging in a multi-level and interactive process of co-production of knowledge between strategic actors in the process (i.e. researchers, ministries, practitioners).


  • Cost-benefit analysis of Cash Transfer Programmes and Post Trauma Services for Economic Empowerment of Women in Uganda
    Principal investigator: Prof. M.E.H. van Reisen (Tilburg University)
    Van Reisen’s project focuses on economic empowerment through social protection schemes in post- conflict settings for female survivors of violence in Northern Uganda. This project compares the effectiveness of three interventions and their relationship: 1) Cash transfers; 2) Trauma-related health and psycho-social support; and 3) Support through radio and social media. The research findings will assist local government and development practitioners to identify the mix of interventions needed to maximise a cost efficient approach to integration of women in economic chains in post conflict settings.

Source: NWO


More detailed information about the research groups will soon be made available on the INCLUDE website

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