South Africa's child support grant is ending up in the right pockets, a new study has found.
It is putting money in women's hands which was used for household expenses and children, said Leila Patel, director of the Centre for Social Development in Africa at the University of Johannesburg.
She said the study, released on Tuesday, proved the grants were reaching and empowering the right people.
"Even though the amount per child is very low (R270 per month) the money, for the most part, is being spent on food."
Detractors of the social grant have accused government of paying women to have babies, and claim widescale abuse and fraud.
"This was not the finding of our study and which can be generalised so as to represent similar urban poor communities in other parts of the country," she said.
The three-year research project was done in Doornkop in Soweto.
A total of 343 households were surveyed to find out if the CSG improved the lives of women and children.
Patel, who led the study, said the researchers found that women were the key financial decision-makers in households receiving the grant.
Those accessing the grant also tended to be better organised than those who were not accessing the grant.
They participated in the community and other projects to improve their lives.
The researchers visited schools and clinics in the area and found that, for the most part, children were also benefiting from school feeding programmes and clinic services.
Where some grant money was lost was when recipients used it to access social services like education and health that were free for the very poor.
"Recipients don't always know what they don't have to pay for," she said.
While the community could be described as "extremely poor", 92 percent of parents receiving the CSG felt their children were in good health.
The majority (88 percent) attended school and 97 percent had been immunised.
Older children sometimes missed out on feeding schemes through poor organisation at their high schools.
The study found that 92 percent of grant beneficiaries cared for the children that actually lived in their homes, while 60 percent were their biological children.
Patel said the study had shown that the grant gave very poor women access to resources, enabling them to make decisions and control their finances.