News and Announcements
The Christian Science Monitor profiles the work of our partner, J-PAL, as well as some IPA projects, as they point out that perhaps Americans and Europeans who are stressed at the prospects of job growth might have something to learn from the evaluations of what works for the poor around the world. An excerpt:
In both America and Europe, people are pessimistic about the ability of politicians to spur job growth. Traditional economic theories – either left or right – are failing as millions of people face years of being without work or underemployed. And as the stress of daily living rises, the jobless often make poor choices, such as not reeducating themselves.
Is there a solution to this gloom?https://poverty-action.org/node/add/story
Perhaps one lies in a hot new approach being tried in the world’s poorest countries, where people living under long-term poverty may have something to teach those in wealthy countries.
A group of behavioral economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and elsewhere are challenging traditional antipoverty policy by conducting experiments in slums and villages to show which competing ideas of development actually work, much like randomized testing in the pharmaceutical industry. They try to avoid generalizing their results, knowing that simplistic ideas are not always easy to replicate, even in the next village.
The history of antipoverty policy, state MIT economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, “is littered with the detritus of instant miracles that proved less than miraculous.”
Yet if they have one overarching conclusion, it is this: The poor often stay poor because of the stress of daily survival; but given enough hope of a better future, they respond like everyone else.
USAID praises Ghana for its advancement in primary education enrollment and highlights the work of the recent Evidence-Based Education conference. An excerpt:
The conference dubbed “Evidence Based Education: Policy-Making and Reform in Africa”, is being co-hosted by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the Ghana Education Service (GES), The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and USAID.
Through the evaluation of the Teacher Community Assistant Initiative and other efforts, the government of Ghana has demonstrated its willingness to make further improvements in social programmes based on scientific evidence. This openness to new ideas and enthusiasm for change is what has brought about the conference.
The conference brings together leading development researchers, senior policy makers from African countries, representatives from international development organisations, foundations and NGOs, to discuss the importance of using scientific evidence from field evaluations to guide policy.
It is also to share randomised evaluations of innovative programmes that have proven to be highly effective, and to give organisations an opportunity to provide input on the future research agenda.
The Huffington Post highlights the necessity of deworming and its impact to call attention to a range of issues that should be addressed at the G8 summit. An excerpt:
Most people have never heard of elephantiasis, river blindness, snail fever, trachoma, hookworm, whipworm or roundworm. These seven parasitic and bacterial infections impact one in six people worldwide, including half a billion children. Without treatment, NTDs can lead to anemia, malnutrition, blindness and other severe physical and cognitive disabilities, perpetuating a cycle of poverty that continues from generation to generation.
The story of one girl in Bihar, India represents an experience shared by hundreds of millions of other children around the world. Twelve-year-old Jyoti recently battled an NTD infection that filled her body with intestinal worms, causing her to experience terrible bouts of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. She grew weak and whenever she tried to eat, she felt like she couldn't get food down her throat. And though she was an excellent student, Jyoti lacked the energy to perform well in school.
Thankfully for children like Jyoti, the solution to these diseases is readily at hand. A simple packet of pills, donated by pharmaceutical companies, can be used to treat and prevent infection from all seven NTDs for an entire year. The treatment programs are so simple that volunteers, community health workers and even teachers can administer them, bringing the annual cost of NTD prevention to about 50 cents per person and making it one of the most cost-effective public health programs around today.
"IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, launched the SME Finance Forum [on April 19, 2012], a G-20 initiative designed to improve access to financial resources for small and medium enterprises and catalyze effective SME-financing tools...The forum is a knowledge-sharing platform for data, research, and experiences for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Access to finance remains one of the most significant challenges for the survival and advancement of small enterprises, which are important drivers of economic growth in developing countries. The forum will promote tools and approaches tailored to policy makers and funders of the SME industry to share knowledge and build networks to improve good practices." To visit the online platform, click here.
"This report outlines the need to provide capital to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries. It shows the impact of this capital on economic development, and the role for International Finance Institutions (IFIs) in the provision of this capital. Finally, it outlines recommendations for additional interventions and further research."
Dean Karlan discusses IPA's work and More than Good Intentions on MSNBC's The Dylan Ratigan show. He explains how we find out what works and what doesn't and also encourages those who give to help the poor to embrace their good intentions but add to their dollar's impact by asking: "Does the organization [you give to] have clear evidence of their impact?"
"When we think of financial inclusion, being included in the ranks of taxpayers is usually not the first item on the list. But for those who operate primarily in the informal economy, NOT paying taxes can be the very thing that keeps them out of the formal sector and denies them a fair shot at real growth. Formal financial services are critical to breaking out of a subsistence level of business, yet even when informal firms have the choice to access such financial services, they may choose to stay out of the formal economy to avoid paying taxes and incurring other costs…For small and medium enterprises (SMEs), [the] negative incentives can be even more daunting."
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