Evaluation of the Social Support for Resilient Livelihoods Project in Malawi

Last registered on January 31, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Evaluation of the Social Support for Resilient Livelihoods Project in Malawi
Initial registration date
November 06, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
November 15, 2023, 4:05 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
January 31, 2024, 10:23 AM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

World Bank

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
University of Vermont

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
We measure the impact of a large-scale, multi-faceted social protection program, the Social Support for Resilience Livelihoods Project (SSRLP) in Malawi, a government-led initiative implemented by the Community Savings and Investment Promotion (COMSIP). Using two distinct randomized controlled trials, we assess the effects of various livelihood support packages on households participating in either the government's Social Cash Transfer (SCT) program or the Climate-Smart Enhanced Public Works Program (CSEPWP). In Experiment 1, Savings and Loan Group clusters that have successfully completed a series of basic trainings are randomized to receive no additional support or one of three program versions: an "enhanced" program that includes skill training and a seed input subsidy; a "graduation" program with coaching, livelihood training, and an asset transfer; or both. In Experiment 2, we measure the impact of one element of the "enhanced" program—the Youth Skills Challenge (YSC)—which provides training and an asset transfer to support livelihood development—by randomly assigning top applicants to a treatment or control group. We evaluate the impacts of these sets of interventions on key outcomes such as income, consumption, food security, and resilience against economic shocks.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Beam, Emily, Benedetta Lerva and Martin Mwale. 2024. "Evaluation of the Social Support for Resilient Livelihoods Project in Malawi ." AEA RCT Registry. January 31. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.12246-1.1
Experimental Details


This impact evaluation consists of two experimental studies. Experiment 1 will assess the comparative impacts of enhanced livelihoods and graduation packages, while Experiment 2 will assess the impact of a business-oriented graduation package for youth called Youth Skills Challenge (YSC).

Experiment 1 will answer the following questions:

1. What is the impact of livelihood packages on household resilience, in terms of food security, consumption, assets/savings, and income diversification?
a. What is the impact of graduation (coaching/household assets & trainings)?
b. What is the impact of the enhanced package (bundled group skills training)?
c. What is the impact of pooling graduation with the enhanced package, and what is the optimum bundle?
2. What is the cost-effectiveness of enhanced and graduation packages?

The enhanced package includes joint skills training, trainings on cooperative development and management, agricultural inputs for selected crops, and linkages for value chain development.

The graduation package includes asset transfers, coaching and mentoring, and asset-based skills training.

Experiment 2 will answer the following questions:
1. What is the impact of the Youth Skills Challenge on youth skills, IGA and earnings, employment and entrepreneurship, and empowerment?
2. What is the cost-effectiveness of the YSC program?

The YSC support includes vocational training, training and supervision for business plan development, financial linkages, and a start-up asset package.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)

Experiment 1 Primary outcomes: income, income diversification, consumption, food security, assets, savings

Experiment 2 Primary outcomes: income, income diversification, assets, savings, youth skills, employment, entrepreneurship

Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Time use, financial inclusion, agency and empowerment, social capital, and well-being
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The study is composed of two randomized experiments with different designs. Randomization into treatment and control will be done by the research team, in coordination with the implementer, and it will occur after the completion of the baseline survey.

Experiment 1:

We randomize at the village level, which contains one or more Savings and Loan Group (SLG) cluster. Each cluster typitcally comprises two SLGs. Villages in our two evaluation districts of Malawi, Dedza and Nkhatabay, will be randomized into one of three treatment groups and one control group. Households and individuals in treatment villages will be eligible for all intervention activities, depending on the specific intervention and their eligibility to receive the specific intervention. Households and individuals in control clusters will receive only basic services from the implementing partner while the evaluation is ongoing, which are a uniform entry point intervention for all beneficiaries. Once the evaluation is complete, clusters in the control group will receive the program as well pending their eligibility assessment and program targets. To be more specific, there will be four treatment arms (T1, T2, T3 and T4) for this experiment as follows:

• T1: those accessing only the basic.
• T2: those accessing only the enhanced package (bundled group skills training).
• T3: those accessing only graduation packages (coaching, household assets and training).
• T4: those accessing both the enhanced and graduation package.

The targeted number of study households is 6,000, though only 3,300 will be interviewed at baseline due to time constraints.

Experiment 2:

This experiment measures the impact of the Youth Skills Challenge (YSC) program, which provides training and assets to help youths establish livelihoods. Within the two experiment 1 districts (Nkhatabay and Dedza) and three other districts (Lilongwe, Rumphi and Nkhotakota), interested youth who are a member of SLGs receiving the enhanced package can apply for YSC. These applications will be scored, and the study sample will comprise twice the number of slots. We will randomize youth at the individual level into a treatment group that receives support, and a control group that does not.

The aim is to enhance youth skills, entrepreneurship skills, empowerment, employment, and earnings, for the treated. A total of 328 slots are available, hereby the experiment will include 700 youth, of which a maximum of 328 (out of 350 assigned to the treatment group) receive the program while a maximum of 350 (out of 350 assigned to the control group) do not.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
The randomization will be done in office by a computer algorithm that will be written by the research team.
Randomization Unit
The unit of randomization is a villageXprogram unit, with separate randomization for SCT and CSEPWP clusters in the same village. We form stratification cells based on district, program (SCT vs. CSEPWP), and the average screening score across clusters in that village (divided into quartiles) and randomize within these cells.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
There are 230 villagesXprogram combinations containing 310 clusters in Experiment 1
Sample size: planned number of observations
6,000 individuals in Experiment 1, 700 youth in Experiment 2
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
There are 57–58 villages in each treatment arm in Experiment 1, and there are approximately 350 youth in each arm in Experiment 2
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Solutions IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
#2023/07/22 "Evaluation of the Social Support for Resilient Livelihoods Project"