Social protection and graduation: Case of heifer-in-trust in Burkina Faso

Working Paper 79
Gountiéni Damien Lankoandé and James Sumberg

March 2014

The distribution of livestock to poor people, commonly known as heifer-in-trust (HIT) or ‘livestock-in-kind credit’, can be seen as a specific type of asset-based social protection. Because of their growth and reproductive potential, some suggest that livestock can play a particularly important role in asset accumulation and thus graduation. This study tests the assumption that livestock will remain a part of the asset portfolio of HIT recipients. Beneficiaries of five HIT-type projects in Burkina Faso were interviewed. The analysis suggests that either because of poor targeting or an appreciation of the demands of livestock keeping, the HIT projects are not reaching the poorest. It also provides only limited support to the assumption that poor people will use the HIT gift to increase their livestock assets. There would appear to be good reason to question the general proposition that livestock are a particularly appropriate asset for transfer to the poor. Because of the demands of livestock – in terms for example of feed, water and management – for the poorest, they may be more of a liability. Understanding the role of asset-transfer programmes in graduation demands a holistic understanding of asset dynamics, which presents important methodological challenges.


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