The General-Secretariat of the National Social Protection Council (NSPC) released a brief statement outlining the results of its evaluation of the implementation of the cash transfer programme for pregnant women and children under 2 years old.
According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, after two years in operation, the programme has provided benefits to more than 160,000 pregnant women and more than 100,000 children at a cost of $18.6 million.
The programme is a National Social Assistance project under the Human Capital Development section of the National Social Protection Policy Framework (NSPPF 2016-2025), which was officially launched on June 1, 2019. The targets for the programme are pregnant women and children under 2 living in poor households.
The NSPC confirmed that the social affairs ministry is currently handling the distribution of the benefits from the programme with participation by relevant ministries and institutions both at the national and sub-national levels, especially commune administrations and the public health base.
“As the progress report from the start of the implementation until May 2022 states, this programme has delivered benefits to 165,610 pregnant women and 102,083 children under 2, with a total expenditure of 74 billion riel, or the equivalent of $18.6 million,” the NSPC statement said.
Since the programme has been in place for more than two years, the NSPC saw a need to evaluate its effectiveness to determine the feasibility of improving the implementation mechanisms if needed.
According to the policy summary of the NSPC, this assessment was carried out in collaboration with relevant ministries and institutions and technical assistance from UNICEF and was initiated in mid-2021, with consulting firm Montrose International mandated to conduct the evaluation under the guidance of the inter-ministerial technical working group.
“This evaluation was undertaken in six targets: Phnom Penh and the provinces of Battambang, Kampot, Svay Rieng, Mondulkiri and Stung Treng. These six were purposely selected for conducting interviews and data collection [due to the] inclusion of ethnic minorities and a high proportion of households with equity cards,” the eight-page summary read.
“A total of 102 key information interviews, 49 focus group discussions and 16 case studies were conducted with 447 respondents, 298 of whom were women, as well as 11 people with disabilities. In all, 25 focus group discussions and case studies were done in-person and the others were done remotely,” said the report.
Using the evaluation criteria framework of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the NSPC claimed that the results of the evaluation show the relevancy, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and possible early impacts of the programme on health, nutrition, and the wellbeing of the beneficiaries, while also providing applicable recommendations to improve the programme.
“Nine recommendations are made for the programme to strengthen and expand its policies to better help people, such as the use of information management technology in the programme, increased access to multiple payment sources and developing further capacity of the staff, agencies and service providers,” the NSPC said.
The cash transfer programme for pregnant women and children under 2 provides monthly cash payments to eligible recipients with the aim of improving the wellbeing of the mothers and their children and to contribute to addressing malnutrition among children in poor households from the time of conception to 2-years-old, as better nutrition promotes the important physical and mental growth that takes place during the first 1,000 days of life.