Sustainable growth requires the management of scarce natural resources, such as water. Although policymakers have put in place pricing structures meant to discourage wasteful water use, a number of barriers may prevent customers from effectively curbing water wastage. Researchers are working with Innovations for Poverty Action and a water company in Zambia to evaluate whether improved information and incentives can help households manage their water usage.

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Increasing the adoption rates of female-initiated methods of contraception may help fill an unmet demand for family planning and reduce rates of HIV infection in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Zambia, researchers are measuring how an interpersonal communication intervention impacts knowledge, acceptability, use of condoms and uptake of female condoms in the context of a mass distribution and marketing campaign for the new Maximum Diva Woman’s Condom.

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Informational campaigns and price subsidies are common ways to increase the use of health products in developing countries, but little is known about the effect of combining these tools. In Zambia, researchers investigated whether households’ demand for chlorine at varying subsidy levels was dependent on their knowledge of the product. They found that providing additional information about chlorine significantly increased the impact of price subsidies on demand for the product.

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Many climate change programs that target small-scale farmers seek to change farmers’ agricultural practices, whether to sequester additional carbon or to improve climate resiliency. Farmers are often hesitant to adopt new practices as they often entail high upfront costs. Climate change programs therefore generally provide inputs or incentives for adopting and complying with the program’s objectives.

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In the absence of formal credit markets, many farming households engage in costly coping strategies to make ends meet between harvests, including reduced food consumption, informal borrowing and short-term work for other farms. In Zambia, researchers examined the impact of access to seasonal credit on the wellbeing of farming households as well as agricultural output.

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A Zambian health worker administers medicine

Employing community health workers may help governments address the shortage of healthcare providers in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, it is unclear how offering incentives such as career advancement opportunities might affect who self-selects into community health worker jobs. Researchers partnered with the Government of Zambia to test the effect of two incentive strategies on applicants’ characteristics and job performance.

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Despite an increased international interest in child development, representative data on child development is still remarkably scarce, particularly from Sub-Saharan Africa.

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In Sub-Saharan Africa, young girls drop out of school at higher rates than boys. Parents often invest more in sons than in daughters, by allowing them more resources for education, such as school fees, and time away from house chores for studying. Adolescent girls are also more likely to contract HIV from older, more sexually active male partners, on whom they often depend for financial resources.

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Rates of unwanted births and unmet demand for contraception remain high in many countries where men report larger ideal family sizes than their wives. Researchers used an evaluation that varied whether women were given access to contraceptives alone or with their husbands to examine the effect of male involvement in family planning on fertility outcomes.

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Can male partners play a role in improving reproductive health among women in developing countries? Evidence suggests women are less likely to seek contraception if their husbands are present, but what if men are educated first about the risks of bearing multiple children close together?
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