Decentralised Beneficiary Targeting in Large-Scale Development Programmes: Insights from the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Programme
Journal of African Economies, 2014
Posted: 8 Jan 2019
Date Written: October 8, 2014
This paper contributes to the long-standing debate on the merits of decentralised beneficiary targeting in the administration of development programmes, focussing on the large-scale Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP). Using nationally representative household survey data, the study systematically analyses the decentralised targeting performance of the FISP during the 2009–10 agricultural season. The analysis begins with a standard targeting assessment based on the rates of programme participation and the benefit amounts among the eligible and non-eligible populations and provides decompositions of the national targeting performance into the inter-district, intra-district inter-community, and intra-district intra-community components. This approach identifies the relative contributions of targeting at each level. The results show that the FISP is not poverty targeted and that the national government, the districts and the communities are nearly uniform in their failure to target the poor, with any minimal targeting (or mis-targeting) overwhelmingly materializing at the community level. The findings are robust to the choice of the eligibility indicator and the decomposition method. The multivariate analysis of household programme participation reinforces these results and reveals that the relatively well off, rather than the poor or the wealthiest, and the locally well-connected have a higher likelihood of programme participation, and, on average, receive a greater number of input coupons. Since a key programme objective is to increase food security and income among resource-poor farmers, the lack of targeting is a concern and should underlie considerations of alternative targeting approaches.
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