Innovative productive transfers (CASH+) in Mali: Strengthening the resilience of the most vulnerable households in the Kayes region

Key facts

  • Location: District of Nioro, region of Kayes, Mali

  • Target group: 750 vulnerable households, approximately 5 300 individuals

  • Gender: Women are the direct recipients of the transfers in 99% of the households

  • Nutrition: Training on good nutritional practices are provided to beneficiaries, along with an health insurance scheme

In Mali, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is currently experimenting the “productive transfers” approach (CASH+), implemented successfully in 2014 in other countries – including countries from West Africa. The 18-month programme combines unconditional cash transfers with the provision of in-kind livestock inputs (goats and animal feed) to benefit 750 vulnerable households, approximately 5 300 individuals, in 36 villages of the Kayes region. The most vulnerable households were targeted using the HEA (Household Economy Analysis) approach1. Women are the direct recipients of transfers in 99 percent of the cases.

In order to better cope with, recover from and adapt to the multiple shocks and recurrent crises affecting the Sahel region (drought, desertification, floods, conflicts, economic shocks, diseases, etc.), the poorest households need to protect their livelihoods, diversify their sources of income and accumulate productive assets. Turning the vicious circle of poverty and dependence (that repeated humanitarian interventions often fail to sustainably stop) into a virtuous circle of production and investments requires innovative approaches.


The CASH+ approach flexibly combines unconditional cash transfers with transfers of inkind productive assets, accompanied by technical training, to benefit highly vulnerable, poor and food insecure households, with the aim of boosting their livelihoods and productive capacities.

The cash transfer component, a highly efficient assistance modality, can meet basic household needs and protect assets from depletion and losses. The productive assistance can help kick start a virtuous cycle of income generation, leading to economic empowerment, increased asset ownership, improved food security and dietary diversity.

FAO’s expertise is critical in identifying the right mix of complementary interventions (the “plus”), defining the best timing according to agricultural and pastoral seasons, accompanying the transfers with appropriate technical training and rigorously assessing the impact of this approach.

In Mali, two different transfers, of a similar total value, are being distributed and compared:

  • A combination of cash transfer of 20 000 FCFA + small ruminants (one male goat and two female goats) + 50 kg of animal feed. This combination is distributed to 375 beneficiary households, or approximately 2 650 individuals;

  • A cash transfer alone, in two tranches of 50 000 FCFA each, also distributed to 375 beneficiaries.

Each transfer modality is being analysed in detail, which will allow for the comparison between the respective impacts on food security, nutrition, income and assets ownership, as well as the respective cost-effectiveness of cash transfers alone versus cash associated with productive assets.