The impact of earned and windfall transfers on livelihoods and conservation in Sierra Leone

The impact of earned and windfall transfers on livelihoods and conservation in Sierra Leone

Using a randomised controlled trial in Sierra Leone, this report measures the impact of a transfer program aimed at alleviating poverty and reducing pressure on the natural environment. The research finds that the way in which aid is distributed—communal versus individual, and windfall versus earned—has a significant effect on how the aid will be used. Earned aid given directly to the individual leads to more consumption with little attention given to public goods. Windfall aid given to community leaders leads to more public goods that are better managed.

In terms of impact on households livelihoods and support for conservation our results are sobering and inconclusive. The researchers find no significant impacts on economic, social and conservation outcomes. This may in part be explained by the high community-minded spirit we find in these villages, over 60% of aid is allocated to community projects. This significantly dampens the potential individual level impacts when much of the aid is spent on a community project.