Accepted paper:

The politics of implementing social protection: the case of cash transfers in Zambia


Kate Pruce (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the contestation around cash transfers during implementation in Zambia, due to a clash of ideas catalysed by political pressure. The resulting policy changes show that implementation continues to influence policy development as donor ideas interact with domestic priorities.

Paper long abstract:

Transnational actors have been instrumental in the adoption of social cash transfers (SCTs) in Zambia, and in introducing the ideas that have shaped their development thus far. However a significant increase in government funding of the SCT programme in 2013 marked a shift in government-donor relations, with government increasingly 'in the driving seat' as the programme expands. This paper examines the contestation that has occurred in Zambia as a centralised SCT policy model, designed by transnational actors and national bureaucrats, is delivered through a decentralised government structure informed by domestic political priorities. It is during implementation that reactions from the local political, bureaucratic and public arenas begin to emerge, as local actors engage in the process. In Zambia, cash transfers became politicised during the 2014 Presidential by-election due to the growing political pressures surrounding targeting, as widespread complaints about the model based on ideas of deservingness raised concern among politicians. Despite limited influence of citizen voice over the delivery of public goods and services in Zambia, cash transfers have provoked citizens to engage directly with questions of redistribution due to this clash of ideas, facilitated by political interests. This has led to changes to the cash transfer targeting model as a result of the complaints demonstrating that policy development continues during implementation processes, which can influence the nature of the policy, as well as its delivery.

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The politics of implementing social protection programmes: political competition, state capacity and policy feedback [paper]