Impacts of a Cash Plus model on adolescents’ safe transitions to adulthood


Dr. Jennifer Waidler , UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti

Ujana Salama (“Safe Youth” in Swahili) is a pilot program targeting adolescents in households receiving the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN), a cash transfer covering the poorest 10 per cent of the population. The pilot comprised livelihoods and life skills training, mentoring and an asset transfer, as well as linkages to sexual and reproductive health services.

This seminar presents findings from a mixed methods impact evaluation conducted by the UNICEF Office of Research, University at Buffalo and EDI Global, with TASAF, TACAIDS, and UNICEF Tanzania. We provide evidence on the potential for complementary interventions layered onto cash transfers to improve youth economic opportunities and facilitate safe transitions to adulthood. To our knowledge, this is the first evaluation of a ‘cash plus’ model for adolescents implemented within a government transfer program in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The ‘plus’ component reduced experiences of sexual violence and perpetration of physical violence, improved mental health, contraceptive and HIV knowledge as well as health seeking behavior, delayed sexual debut, and increased gender equitable attitudes. There was one adverse outcome, that is a decrease in secondary school attendance, driven by dropout of girls. One plausible explanation is that youth may have decided to leave school following the face-to-face the training, in expectation of the asset transfer and/or earnings from business. Contextual factors, including lack of jobs for educated youth, may have played a role.

Given implementation within the government social protection system, the adolescent cash plus model has high potential for scale-up and sustainability. Our findings help the Government and program implementors in the process of adapting and scaling-up the program.



About the speaker

Jennifer Waidler is a research analyst at the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, where she evaluates cash transfers and cash plus programs in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is also the lead researcher of a report on family friendly policies in South Asia. She holds a PhD in Economics and Governance from UNU-MERIT / Maastricht University and a Master’s in Public Policy with a specialisation in Social Policy Design from the same university. Jennifer has worked on a variety of migration and social protection related projects for several institutions including UNU-MERIT, The World Bank, and the Centre of Excellence in Food Security in South Africa.



Venue: via Zoom (please contact us at seminars@merit.unu.edu for the Zoom link)

Date: 18 February 2021

Time: 12:00 - 13:00


UNU-MERIT