Social Policy & Administration

We investigate whether social protection programs can increase participation in community-driven development programs and examine how this affects state-citizen relations. Using a randomized controlled trial in south-central Somalia, we study the impacts of one-time unconditional cash transfers to vulnerable households that were specifically designed to encourage participation in community development. While the cash transfer is relatively small as a share of annual household expenditure, it is more than sufficient to cover households’ anticipated community development contributions. The transfers were funded by an NGO but delivered through state institutions. We collect survey data before and after the intervention with almost 600 individuals eligible to receive cash transfers. We find no substantial differences in participation in community development projects for cash transfer recipient households relative to non-recipient households. However, we do find positive impacts of the cash transfers on citizen perceptions of clan elders and the local government. Our findings suggest that relatively small social protection interventions may face challenges in increasing vulnerable households’ participation in community development and decision-making, while also highlighting potential positive spillover effects for state-citizen relations and beliefs about the capacity of local institutions where states institutions are involved in program delivery, even if they do not finance the program.


Vanessa van den Boogaard

Vanessa van den Boogaard is a Research Fellow at the ICTD and a Senior Research Associate at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. She completed her PhD thesis on informal revenue generation and statebuilding in Sierra Leone, and has ongoing research on the topic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia. Vanessa leads the ICTD’s new programme on civil society engagement in tax reform and co-leads the research programme on informal taxation.

Fabrizio Santoro

Fabrizio is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, and the Research Lead for the second component of the ICTD's DIGITAX Research Programme. His main research interests relate to governance, public finance, and taxation, with a strong focus on impact evaluation methodologies and statistical analysis. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex.

Michael Walker

Research Economist at The Center for Effective Global Action, Berkeley, California, USA