Calamity, Conflict and Cash Transfers: How Violence Affects Access to Aid in Pakistan


I examine how prior exposure to conflict affected household-level access to cash transfer programmes in the aftermath of the massive 2010 floods in Pakistan. Using IV-estimation to correct for the endogeneity of conflict exposure and access to aid, I find that conflict reduced household access to two large government-run cash transfer programmes – the Citizens Damage Compensation Programme (CDCP) – I, and the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). Distinguishing violence from rebel control, and exploiting the Taliban’s avowed opposition to girls’ schooling and their ability to reduce female primary enrolment, I attempt to identify areas likely to be under Taliban influence, which are otherwise unobserved across data sources. Using residuals derived from the community- level estimation of female primary enrolment rates (after including a wide range of supply and demand side determinants of girls’ school enrolment), I mark out areas with more/ less likely Taliban presence. I find that the presence of Taliban and affiliate groups drives the negative effect of conflict on access to cash transfers. This suggests that attempts by the state to expand its footprint in rebel- held areas through social protection may be resisted by rebel groups, resulting in lower programme coverage. The lower access to the transfers in conflict-affected areas translates as the complete exclusion of villages from the programmes, as well as lower average rates of intra-village coverage.

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