Christopher Werth recognizes the success of giving aid money directly to the poor, without conditions:
[T]he most effective help [Cape Town's Zanele Figlan] receives is the $1 a day the government provides for each of her two youngest sons, which amounts to more than double her monthly income and allows her to make sure they’re well fed. It also means she can afford to send them to a reputable school in a wealthier part of the city, something that was previously unthinkable.
At first glance, simply handing out cash to the poor may seem naive. When cash-transfer programs, as they’re known in the parlance of international aid, first rolled out in Latin America in the 1990s, they were met with skepticism, especially from development agencies more intent on structural reform than redistributing wealth. More than a decade later, however, evidence shows that even modest payments grant the world’s poorest the power to make their own decisions; it also indicates that they make smart choices, especially on matters of health and education.
Cara Kulwicki has more on the topic.