The social impact of community based targeting mechanisms for safety nets : a qualitative study of the targeted agricultural input subsidy programme in Malawi.
Mgemezulu, Overtoun Placido.
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Community based targeting mechanism has been widely utilized in the delivery of relief interventions and safety nets. In developing countries like Malawi the approach has been championed as the most effective and efficient way of reaching the most vulnerable. However, very little is known on how community based targeting mechanism actually works. Using the Agriculture Input Subsidy programme as a case study, the thesis attempts to explore whether community based targeting lives to its billing of enhancing social capital. The purpose of the study was to examine community perceptions and experiences about community based targeting approach and how it affects social relations and collective actions in the community. The results demonstrate that while communities have the knowledge and capacity to target the most vulnerable, the approach is largely a top down process. The choice on whether to target or not is a delicate balance of social, economic and political factors. Communities largely participate to fulfil or comply with official requirements so that they can cash in from the benefits. However, given a choice communities would largely share resources equally to prevent social costs. Consequently, a targeted programme at national level becomes a universal programme at community level since benefits are largely shared to all community members. The role and influence of social factors in the community based targeting has been largely underestimated in the targeting literature.