Bosnia & Herzegovina: Social Audit of World Bank Cash Assistance Programme, 1997

In an effort to achieve a quick infusion of economic resources to an area severely disrupted by war, the World Bank instituted a programme of direct cash assistance to the most affected families. CIET was contracted to examine the programme’s coverage and impact and perceptions of it by the communities that benefitted. A major criterion for evaluation was how well the cash assistance was reaching its intended beneficiaries. Conducted in 1997, this was CIET’s fourth consecutive annual vulnerability assessment in that region. The survey team contacted 21,289 people in 7,182 households in the BiH Federation and the Srpska Republic.

Programme performance appeared to be better in urban areas and areas with fewer refugees. Communities where the programme performed the best were more likely to report events or interventions contributing to peace and stability. Targeting of the cash benefits was evaluated by comparing those who received cash benefits with those in the same communities who did not. In general the evidence indicated that the cash assistance was reaching those who were worse off than those not receiving it; more bought wheat flour and fewer had coffee in the household. Beneficiaries were also less likely to receive remittances and twice as likely as households in the reference sample to include a disabled person. They were also much less likely to have received wages in the previous month (8% compared with 37%). A household receiving cash benefit was more likely to report or to perceive food insecurity and was twice as likely to be receiving food aid.

Objectives of the assistance programme included building local institutional capacities to handle the aid. Although in heterogeneous ways, this was being achieved, at least until the BiH Federal Minister requested termination of the programme in favour of centralised management of the funds.