PEP-PAGE project

Assessing the impact of a cash transfer program for the elderly - Ekiti State, Nigeria

This analysis shows that the non-contributory cash transfer scheme in Ekiti State, Nigeria, improved the well-being of the elderly beneficiaries and their households.  Find out more below, or through the PEP Working Paper 2016-21 and Policy Brief 171.

This team’s outstanding policy engagement from the earliest stages of the project – winning them third prize at the 2014 PEP Best Practice Awards – has led to a new Nigerian social security program being implemented, based on their recommendations. Find out more below or in the PEP Impact Brief

Context, issues and objectives

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa (173.6 million in 2013) and one in four people in sub-Saharan Africa is Nigerian. Since the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1970, the country’s population has tripled. Now, declining fertility and longer life expectancy mean that Nigeria has a significant – and growing – aging population, expected to reach 11 million individuals by 2025.

The country’s aging population presents a crucial challenge for the government in providing decent living conditions and improving well-being. However, with the majority of the elderly having worked in the informal sector all their productive lives, they have no access to employment-related pensions or other social benefits.

Recognizing the role of the informal sector in their societies, a number of developing world countries have implemented non-contributory old age pension schemes to support elderly members of the population, with the most recent regional pilot interventions being implemented in sub-Saharan Africa. However, little is known about the impact of such schemes, particularly in areas with high poverty levels and multiple demands on increasingly strained governmental budgets.

An unconditional, non-contributory pension scheme was implemented for citizens of Ekiti State, Nigeria, aged 65 and over and not receiving any other pensions. It is the first of its kind not only in Nigeria but also in West Africa. Implemented by the state government in 2011, the scheme is expected to improve the living conditions of the beneficiaries with the State Governor at the time, Dr. Kayode Fayemi saying: “Through the provision of regular income payments, the well-being of elderly citizens will improve and poverty will be reduced.”

A team of local PEP researchers was awarded PEP funding and support to evaluate the impact of the cash transfer scheme in terms of beneficiary well-being using the experimental randomized controlled trial method, in collaboration with the Ekiti State Ministry of Labor, Productivity and Human Development. The team set out to provide results that would inform state and federal-level policy on how to support the elderly population in Nigeria.

Click on the video above right for a presentation of the project by the team leader, Dr. Damilola Olajide.

Research questions

  • What is the impact of the Ekiti State cash transfer scheme on the living conditions of the beneficiaries (elderly), particularly on their expenditure patterns (e.g. food and alcohol consumption) and health?
  • How does the size of the impact on the beneficiaries (if any) differ by gender and location?
  • Are there any unintended effects/consequences associated with the scheme?

The team presented the results from the analysis of the first follow up survey during the 2016 PEP Annual Conference in Manila, Philippines. Find out more in the publications below.

Project links and documents

Research team

Find out more about this project - its analytical approach and outcomes - through the following links/documents:
  • Mr. Damilola Olajide
    Initiative of Public Policy Analysis (IPPA)
  • Adaku Ezeibe
    University of Nigeria, Nsukka
  • Ms. Florence Adebayo
    Directorate of Social Development, Ekiti State Government
  • Ms. Kafilah Gold
    Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin
  • Ms. Olufunke Olufemi
    Ikere College of Education
  • Mr. Olusegun Sotola
    Initiative of Public Policy Analysis (IPPA)
PEP project PIERI-12506 Working paper (PDF)
Project proposal (Word doc) Policy brief (PDF)
Poster (PDF)
Final report (PDF) Impact brief (PDF)
3rd prize winner of the 2014 PEP Best Practice Awards

Policy engagement and consultation

The evaluation project was undertaken in collaboration with the Ekiti State Ministry of Labor, Productivity and Human Development, the government body in charge of implementing the cash transfer program, and thus first-hand users of the results.

The team's consultation activities have involved key stakeholders in institutions at regional, national and international levels:

  • Ekiti State government:  Ministry of Labor, Productivity and Human Development, Directorate of Social Development (Ekiti State Government Commission), Office of the State Governor, House of Assembly, as well as all political parties in Ekiti State
  • National (federal) government: National Planning Commission and Committee on Labor, Employment, and Productivity (Federal House of Representatives)
  • International: HelpAge International Pension Watch

Following the consultations held with the Ministry in the fall of 2012 while designing the research proposal, the Head of the Directorate of Social Development (the partner implementation agency in charge of field activities associated with the cash transfer scheme) Florence Adebayo, joined the research team to ensure the coordination of the evaluation with those implementing the program as well as the incorporation of the research team’s recommendations into policy decisions and practices.

The findings and recommendations of the project have therefore been used to directly assist in improving the cash transfer scheme by informing decisions related to the expansion and implementation of the program, while simultaneously helping to build capacity for impact evaluation within the government department. The Directorate of Social Development is also in charge of local NGOs/CSOs operating in the State, representing the other key stakeholders/users of the project's outcomes. The Ekiti State Governor even used this project as a promotional tool during his last election campaign in 2014.

At the state level in July 2016, the Director of the Social Security Scheme for Ekiti State commended the research team on their study and noted that there are lessons to be learned from the cash transfer scheme.

At the national level, the research team consulted with the Deputy Director of the Department of Social Development at the National Planning Commission, who confirmed the project’s timeliness with their own initiatives in terms of social protection policy. In June 2016, a senior official at the (federal) Ministry of Budget and Planning stated that the team’s findings would inform the government as they develop the National Priority Agenda for the Vulnerable.

Dissemination and impact

In October 2016, the team held a national policy conference in Lagos, where they presented their research findings and proposed a national social security scheme to key state and federal-level stakeholders. During the event, several government officials stated that the team’s findings will help shape their thinking and decisions regarding cash transfer programs, including how to scale-up the Ekiti State model. Following the conference, the team was invited to meet with other state governments to discuss implementation in other regions. Both the conference and the results of the study benefited from significant media coverage, including reports in two daily national newspapers: The Nigerian Tribune and The Nation. 

The federal Ministry of Labor and Employment also met with the team to discuss how the findings can relate to other vulnerable members of the population. Several weeks later, the federal government announced a plan to provide social security to 50% of vulnerable population groups, starting with unemployed youth. A new scheme was implemented and the Federal Government began the first round of monthly allocation (N5000) payments in January 2017 (see related news report). The scheme was based on the Ekiti State model and the research team was actively consulted regarding its implementation as well as on the possible evaluation of this new intervention.

The team’s dissemination strategy has also been highly effective in gathering international interest in their research. Following Dr. Olajide’s attendance at the “100 years of pensions” conference in Sweden in October 2013, the team was invited to share their findings via the HelpAge International blog and newsletters.

The HelpAge blog posts have generated many comments from experts and key stakeholders around the world, and the leader was contacted directly by international experts on pension issues who asked to be kept informed of the experiment’s results and conclusions.

 Find out more about the manifold outcomes of this project in the following PEP Impact Brief.

An article was also published by the IDRC to report this story: Local research team helps create Nigeria’s first national social protection scheme



PEP-PAGE projects

The project described above is one of the several projects selected for support under the PEP research and capacity building initiative for Policy Analysis on Growth and Employment (PAGE) in developing countries. The PAGE program is co-funded by UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and Canada's International Development Research Center (IDRC).

This particular project was selected in June 2013, following the first of three competitive calls for proposals of the PAGE initiative. A total of 65 projects have been supported under the three PAGE funding rounds. Find out more

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