Emergency Cash Support Reduces Hunger and Improves Wellbeing for Colombians and Regional Migrants, Major Study Reveals

Bogota, Columbia, Aug. 15, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Families in Colombia that received emergency cash transfers had higher levels of life satisfaction, more stable incomes, and reduced risks of food insecurity, even three months after receiving the last cash transfer, according to a major impact evaluation released by Action Against Hunger in May. 

The large scale, three-year project led by Action Against Hunger and its partners provided cash assistance to more than 256,000 migrant, refugee, returned, and host community members in Colombia, allowing them to access basic goods and services and address key vulnerabilities. 

Participants in the ADN Dignidad project received cash transfers of approximately $100 USD per household each month for six months to help alleviate human suffering. By including migrants from Venezuela and Colombian returnees, it also was designed to reduce negative socioeconomic impacts caused by migration.

More than 20 million people forcibly displaced in Latin America today. Colombia receives the largest number of migrants from Venezuela (2.48 million), in addition to migrants who had fled Colombia and returned home. Both sets of migrants—Venezuelans and “returnees”—face vulnerabilities and unstable living conditions. While cash transfers are well-known as an effective development intervention, few evaluations had focused on their effectiveness in emergency situations related to migration, especially at such a scale throughout Colombia and the region.

The evaluation was the largest humanitarian cash transfer impact assessment in the region to date. It examined the program’s impact on a sample of more than 3,190 households in Barranquilla, Bogota, and Nariño. The evaluation’s results showed statistically significant effects on program participants, who, when compared to their peers, reported a higher level of satisfaction with their life. Participants also:

  • improved their food security, 
  • were 15% more likely to have a stable monthly income, 
  • were 26% more likely to save, and 
  • 21% less likely to have debt. 

Participants reported that 62% percent of the monetary assistance was used for food, 24% for housing, and 12% for other basic needs and household supplies. 

“As families face poverty and limited resources, they are forced to resort to negative coping strategies when it comes to food, such as eating fewer and less nutritious meals,” said Carlos Alviar, Chief of Party of the ADN Dignidad project. “This rigorous evaluation shows that an infusion of cash at a time of vulnerability can have positive, lasting impacts in improving food and economic security and preventing people from having to turn to damaging, desperate measures.” 

Alviar added that timely humanitarian interventions like this one may also prevent further migration. “As we improve economic recovery, we’re also hoping to reduce the need to migrate again,” he said. “For migrant populations coming to Colombia, they don’t need to look for another life in the North, like moving to the United States and going through the struggles and risks that many endure.” 

Three months after the cash assistance ended, program participants still had higher incomes than their peers. Those who did not participate in the program reported an average income of $73 USD, while the income of program participants increased by 15% ($84 USD) after receiving the cash assistance. They were also more likely to invest in activities and resources to advance their livelihoods.

Cash assistance has helped to meet the needs of the participants and create opportunities for their communities. Juan, a Colombian living in Nariño, a host community for migrants and returnees, explained that he always dreamed of managing his own farm. "I was able to invest and now I am harvesting tomatoes,” he said. “I also give work to my neighbors. This has allowed me to eat and pay the people who support me in the field."

The evaluation was conducted by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3iE), which has a portal with more than 10,000 resources to help promote evidence-informed development and decision-making.

"There are very few evaluations and evidence on the impact of humanitarian cash transfer assistance programs in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said John Orlando, Action Against Hunger’s Country Director for Colombia. “The study closes knowledge gaps for the country and the continent and allows us to define humanitarian responses, especially for vulnerable and migrant populations.” 

The ADN Dignidad program is now expanding to reach an additional 150,000 new participants in urban and semi-urban areas of the country with cash transfers as well as nutrition and protection services through October 2023. The program is also now promoting the socioeconomic integration of the migrant population by providing opportunities to build skills, increasing employability and entrepreneurship, and promoting access to financial services.

Video testimonies of program participants are available upon request. 


About ADN Dignidad 
ADN Dignidad—whose name is based on the organizations involved (A for Action Against Hunger, D for the Danish Refugee Council, and N for the Norwegian Refugee Council) —receives support from the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID's) Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA). It supports vulnerable persons in accessing basic needs such as food, housing, and hygiene products, among other services.

About the Impact Evaluation 
The evaluation conducted by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3iE) surveyed 3,190 households, with 1,532 eligible households and 1,658 ineligible households. The surveys were conducted both remotely and in-person. After analyzing more than 100 variables and socioeconomic indicators, the analysis found that the program has a positive effect on those who received the assistance. 

About Action Against Hunger  

Action Against Hunger is leading a global movement to end hunger in our lifetimes. It innovates solutions, advocates for change, and reaches more than 28 million people every year with proven hunger prevention and treatment programs. As a nonprofit that works across 55 countries, its 8,900 dedicated staff members partner with communities to address the root causes of hunger, including climate change, conflict, and chronic inequality. It strives to create a world free from hunger, for everyone, for good.


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