News and Announcements
- Dec 01/14 | From the newsroom |
David Bornstein, writing in the New York Times Fixes column, discusess the kind of savings groups which IPA is evaluating in several African countries. These groups, called Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) are run by the participants who save together, and can be alternatives to microcredit. They have the advantage of allowing individuals to save up for expenses in advance, rather than take out high interest loans when those expenses come up, and don't require banks or other third party lender involvment. As IPA founder Dean Karlan says in the piece:“What makes this nice as an intervention is that it needs no financial infrastructure to make it work,” explained Dean Karlan, a professor of economics at Yale University and president of Innovations for Poverty Action (I.P.A.), which conducted a three-year randomized controlled evaluation of the Saving for Change program in Mali, and CARE’s V.S.L.A. program in Ghana, Uganda and Malawi. “It needs no bricks and mortar. You just demonstrate it, walk people through it, and they can keep doing it.”The full piece is available here.
- Nov 24/14 | From the newsroom |
Malawi's BNL Times, covers IPA & The Bankers Association of Malawi's conference Achieving Better Banking in Malawi. As the articles describes:The conference was a partnership between IPA and Bam and brought together practitioners and policy makers to discuss empirical evidence on financial inclusion from randomized evaluations conducted by IPA and its partners in Malawi and other countries.Munthali said the research findings points to a need to dig deeper to find out what works when designing financial inclusion programmes.“The question remains as to whether the many activities outlined in the financial inclusion strategy will be effective at delivering the desired outcomes, particularly around savings behavior,” said Munthali.The full article is available here.
- Nov 19/14 | From the newsroom |
IPA-Malawi’s Country Director Thomas Munthali writes in The Nation about financial inclusion in the country. He cites research showing 46 percent exclusion rates, with 80 percent of Malawians unaware of mobile money options. The upcoming IPA & Bankers Association of Malawi conference Achieving Better Banking in Malawi will bring researchers from around the world to Lilongwe to discuss the latest findings from randomized evaluations in financial inclusion. Read the full piece here.
- Nov 03/14 | From the newsroom |
Fox News reported on IPA's study using text messages to remind patients to take their medication. You can find the story here (note the country in which the study took place is Ghana, not Guinea). More information on the study is here, with a follow-up blog post reporting on qualitative findings here.
- Oct 31/14 | From the newsroom |
IPA-Philippines Director Nassreena Sampaco-Baddiri was honored by the UK Government, which named her and seven UK-educated colleagues as UK Education Ambassadors. You can read more about it in the Philippines GMA (television network) News here and the Philippine Star News. A first person account of the formal event at which the honor was bestowed is also in the Business Mirror.
- Oct 30/14 | From the newsroom |
The news site Quartz.com covered Chris Blattman’s research with IPA in Liberia. Researchers were able to predict outbreaks of future violence in the country with a small set of variables. You can read the full piece, This statistical model can predict outbreaks of violence in Liberia here.
- New York Magazine’s Science of Us column features IPA’s new evaluation of text message reminders for malaria patients in Ghana. The piece highlights one of the interesting parts of the study, helping people to stick to intentions when it comes to health behavior, a notoriously difficult problem in public health. You can read the piece on New York Magazine's site here, see the announcement on IPA's site here, and find a summary of the full study here.
- IPA founder Dean Karlan has a feature article in the fall issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, assessing where we’ve come in financial inclusion, and looking in particular at the role of non-profits versus the private sector. As he says:The time has come, in short, to take stock of the broad movement to expand access to financial services among the poor. What’s next for that movement—the movement for financial inclusion? Where should donors and NGOs who care about financial inclusion now turn their attention?You can read the full article here, and also find his previous piece on the SSIR blog, with Mary Kay Gugerty, Measuring Impact Isn’t for Everyone.
- Oct 27/14 | Announcement |
New study shows text messaging could be useful tool in fight against malariaNew Haven, CT, Oct. 28 2014 – Each year, malaria kills over 600,000 people, more than half of them children. In a study published today in PLOS ONE (summary here and full study here), researchers with the non-profit Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and Harvard University found that simple text message reminders to take malaria medication can help in the fight against the disease by boosting the rates at which patients complete their medication regimen.One challenge in fighting malaria is that the disease has evolved resistance to many drugs that formerly worked, according to Julia Raifman, a Ph.D. candidate in the Harvard School of Public Health, who co-authored the study. Only one class of drugs, artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) remains effective and available. “When patients don’t complete their full medication regimen, diseases can develop resistance to treatment. And with infectious diseases like malaria, drug resistant diseases can spread to others” Raifman said. “Even in the United States, studies show that about half of people don’t adhere to their medications—it’s easy to forget, or to think you’ve beaten the disease because you feel better. We’ve already begun to see resistance to artemisinin in Southeast Asia. It would be catastrophic if that became widespread and there was no effective treatment for the most deadly form of malaria,” she added.The researchers, working with IPA’s research staff in Ghana, drew on previous research using SMS reminders in situations where people fail to follow through on intentions, such as saving money, paying back loans, or completing college financial aid forms. The research staff in Ghana recruited more than 1,100 people outside pharmacies and healthcare facilities, who then used their mobile phones to enroll in an automated system. The system randomly assigned half to receive the text message reminders to take their medication at the 12 hour intervals corresponding to when the pills were to be taken. The local staff followed up with the participants several days later at their homes to check how many pills they had taken. Study authors Raifman, Heather Lanthorn, Slawa Rokicki, and Günther Fink found that those who received the texts were significantly more likely to finish the full regimen.The study also tested whether a short versus longer, more informative message would be more effective and found unexpectedly that the shorter messages had a significant impact, but the longer ones did not. “SMS reminders are a ‘nudge,’ not a ‘shove’ ” said Aaron Dibner-Dunlap, an Innovations for Poverty Action researcher who studies text message reminders. “They can help people follow through on something they originally intended to do, but human nature is tricky and the science is still young. We're optimistic because the technology has become so widespread and inexpensive to administer, that for programs like this one that work, there’s huge potential for helping people at very low cost.”The study was implemented by IPA in Ghana, with researchers Julia RG Raifman and Heather Lanthorn, both doctoral candidates at Harvard’s School of Public Health, Slawa Rokicki, doctoral candidate at Harvard’s Department of Health Policy, and Günther Fink, Associate Professor of International Health Economics at Harvard’s School of Public Health.###More information about the study is available at (http://bit.ly/MalariaSMS)Additional information:Malaria is one of the leading causes of death for children under five worldwide.Of malaria deaths, 92 percent occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa, where Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent form of the malaria parasite, is most common.This study took place in and around Tamale, the capital of Ghana’s Northern Region.Ghana was a pilot country for the Global Fund’s Affordable Medicines Facility – malaria (AMFm), which aimed to expand access to ACTs by highly subsidizing their cost. National health insurance allows members to receive the medications free of charge.Contact:Jeff Mosenkis, Innovations for Poverty Action (firstname.lastname@example.org 203-672-9552 )OrJulia RG Raifman, Harvard School of Public Health (jrgoldbe at hsph.harvard.edu)About Innovations for Poverty Action:Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA designs, rigorously evaluates, and refines these solutions and their applications together with decisionmakers to ensure that the evidence created is used to improve opportunities for the world’s poor. In the ten years since its founding IPA has worked with over 250 leading academics to conduct over 400 evaluations in 51 countries. More information is available at www.poverty-action.org.
- Oct 21/14 | From the newsroom |
IPA's research in Uganda on encouraging youth savings for educational expenses through a school based program was featured in that country's Daily Monitor. Researcher Oliver Schmidt points to qualitative findings showing that education expenses are a primary reason named for taking out loans, and the research by Dean Karlan and Leigh Linden finding one variation of a combination of programs involving parent outreach and flexible savings commitments, which increased school supply purchases for kids and subsequent test scores. The full story is here, and Beniamino Savonitto and Pooja Wagh of IPA's Global Financial Inclusion Initiative expanded with a blog post addressing the broader issue, available here.
Support IPA in finding
solutions that work
to help the world's poor