Name: Impact Assessment of the Malawi Social Action Fund
Year: 2008
Client: MASAF
Country: Malawi
Background: The Malawi Social Action Fund (MASAF) built on earlier work undertaken by MASAF 1 and 2 that focused primarily on delivery of social and economic infrastructure needed for achievement of poverty reduction targets enshrined in the country’s poverty reduction strategy and the Millennium Development Goals. The MASAF 3 programme is distinguished by its emphasis on improving the capacity of Local Authorities (LA) to deliver services, and by acting as a catalyst for enhancing local government systems as part of the country’s decentralization agenda. MASAF 3 also focused on creating capacity at the community level to demand services and to also take charge of their own development through selfâ€Â�help initiatives. MASAF 3 was originally designed as a twelveâ€Â�year Adaptable Program Loan (APL) with three distinct funding cycles from 2003 to 2015, the first being for three years and dedicated to laying the foundation by establishing the framework, policies, systems and capacities at district and community level.
Objectives: This impact evaluation assessed only the first of these cycles (APL1, from 2003 to 2006). The objective of the impact evaluation was to conduct a retrospective assessment across five specific areas: (1) Access to services, including changes in access, utilisation and beneficiary satisfaction with services and facilities; (2) Conditional cash transfers, assessing both the targeting benefits to the poor and the resultant mitigating effects on households; (3) Cost effectiveness of various subâ€Â�project investments; (4) Institutional assessment, evaluating the institutional impact of MASAF3â€Â�APL1, including influence on District Development Planning (DDP) system and LA capacity to manage projects; and, (5)Sustainability, to measure the technical, financial and physical sustainability of facilities and services implemented under MASAF3â€Â�APL1. The purpose of the impact study is to feed lessons and recommendations into the followâ€Â�up to MASAF3â€Â�APL1 or similar programmes.

Key features of the assessment

  • reconstruction of baseline
  • use of difference in difference (DID) to determine impact
  • determination of control group
Activities: The final sample size of control and treatment areas was 1590. Alongside the household survey, the evaluation team undertook a survey of project committee members (n=83), focus group discussions (n=60), key informant interviews, and visits to five Local Authorities (LAs) where specialists undertook assessments of sustainability, costâ€Â�effectiveness, institutional development and the MIS, M&E and IEC systems.
Special Recognition: