News and Announcements
The Guardian's Poverty Matters development weblog recently highlighted development experts questioning the impact of the Millenium Villages Project. IPA Research Affiliate Chris Blattman weighs in, calling for more thorough evaluation of "the theory of the big push":
The nub of the issue was well put by Chris Blattman when he asked on his blog what the MVP will prove. That "a gazillion dollars in aid and lots of government attention produces good outcomes"? This is hardly surprising, says Blattman. The point, he adds, is how we test "the theory of the big push: that high levels of aid simultaneously attacking many sectors and bottlenecks are needed to spur development; that there are positive interactions and externalities from multiple interventions".
As Blattman says, the reverse could be true – "that marginal returns to aid may be high at low levels and that we can also have a big impact with smaller sector-specific interventions". There has been plenty of development along the latter lines in recent years, such as mass distribution of malaria bed nets for example. Which is the most effective, sustainable form of aid? It's a very good question.
The problem for the likes of Blattman, Clemens and Demombynes is that, for a number of reasons, the MVP – despite the huge investment of resources, expertise and effort – is not going to help answer the question one way or the other. The evaluation process is simply not rigorous and open enough..."
Read more on their recommendations for randomized and longitudinal evaluation here.
Update: MVP responds to critics, arguing "When we began the project, we knew that randomised trials would not be the appropriate methodology for evaluating it's impact. Our focus was, and is, on designing operational systems across many sectors to achieve the eight MDGs, a task that is far more complex than can be addressed in a standard clinical trial."
Sick children are not as able to learn in school as their healthy classmates. For millions of children across the world this illness is caused by intestinal worms. These parasitic worms can cause cause anaemia, stunted growth, lethargy, impaired...
"By any measure, the global economy is facing unusually high levels of uncertainty and volatility. But human nature may be impeding our ability to turn the economy around." - NYTimes.com
Richard H. Thaler, economics professor at UChicago's Booth School of Business, cites IPA Research Affiliate Eldar Shafir's experiment in a New York Times article to illustrate how being overly cautious about future conditions can delay action when it may be needed most.
"Along with making people irritable, uncertainty can create paralysis. Some animals freeze when they are frightened. Acting like a deer in the headlights can be a good strategy if you are trying not to be seen, but it can get you run over.
In humans, this behavior is illustrated by an experiment conducted by the Princeton psychologist Eldar Shafir. The subjects, who were graduate students, were told about an attractive deal for a spring-break vacation. They could get an especially good price if they bought their tickets now, rather than waiting a week. But, as part of the deal, the students wouldn’t hear the results of an important exam until the discount expired. That uncertainty caused many students to freeze: Although a majority said they intended to take the trip whether or not they passed the exam — either to celebrate their success or recover from failure — they didn’t want to buy the tickets until they found out the results.
I worry that many Americans are now acting like Professor Shafir’s subjects. They know that there are investments they should be making, investments that are currently “on sale,” but they are waiting to see how things shape up before they act."
- Oct 05/11 | From the newsroom |
IPA’s SME Initiative held its first Working Group on September 16, 2011 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This full-day event brought together 41 researchers, practitioners and donors to discuss early-stage research and potential new projects pertaining to SME policy and entrepreneurship. The Working Group provided an opportunity for affiliates of the SME Initiative to share their work, discuss potential areas for collaboration, and network with others active in the SME space.
A diverse array of presentations covered topics including: the G20 Financial Inclusion agenda for SME finance; the impact of SME growth on poverty reduction; innovative risk-based pricing for SMEs; secured transactions reform in Colombia and its impact on increasing access to finance for SMEs; network spillovers in Uganda and technology spillovers in Pakistan; entrepreneurial career trajectories in Indonesia; and procurement value chains in post-conflict states. Summaries and copies of these presentations can be viewed here.
The next Working Group meeting for SME Initiative affiliates will be held at the beginning of 2012.
- Oct 03/11 | Announcement |
Over 17 million children in the Indian state of Bihar were provided with deworming treatment as part of one of the largest school-based deworming efforts ever conducted in the world. The announcement was made by Mr. Rajesh Bhushan, the State Project Director of the Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC) and Secretary of Public Relations Department, Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Secretary of Department of Health & Family Welfare and Executive Director of the State Health Society Bihar (SHSB), and Ms. Prerna Makkar, Regional Director – South Asia, Deworm the World (DtW) as they reported the results of Bihar’s first-ever statewide school-based deworming program implemented from February through April 2011. Mr. Kumar said "it is remarkable that such a technically simple intervention, as regular and systematic deworming, can have such a profound effect on the nutritional, health and education status of millions of children."
Bihar has a very high rate of parasitic worm infection,with all school-age children at risk and more than 50% infected in most districts, according to prevalence surveys conducted by DtW. As worm infections damage children’s health, education and development, all school-age children in Bihar – nearly 21 million – were targeted for deworming by this program. Infected children are more likely to suffer from malnutrition and anemia, resulting in children who are either too sick or too tired to concentrate in class or to attend school. This can cause lifelong harm to a child with research showing that children who remain infected earn 43% less as adults, and are 13% less likely to be literate.
Fortunately, treating worm infection is as easy as administering a deworming tablet once or twice each year to all school-age children. The medication is safe for both infected and uninfected children, and delivery through schools ensures the greatest coverage and impact. Deworming children in schools, where the treatment is administered by teachers and supported by healthcare staff, is a simple and cost-effective way to improve children’s health and their ability to learn. Researchers at Harvard University and University of California, Berkeley have found that school-based deworming reduces school absenteeism by as much as 25%.
This massive first-time deworming program in Bihar was launched under the direction of the State School Health Coordination Committee (SSHCC), an inter-sectoral committee between the SHSB and the BEPC in coordination with DtW. Mr. Bhushan stated that “a strong three-way partnership amongst the BEPC, SHSB, and Deworm the World along with elaborate advance planning and large-scale training of education and health personnel led to the program's success.” Program costs in Bihar were financed by the BEPC, SHSB and Information and Public Relations Department, with support for DtW’s technical, coordination and monitoring assistance provided by the World Bank and the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases.
During the program, nearly 140,000 teachers and 20,000 healthcare staff throughout Bihar were trained to deliver the medication. “Deworming Day” treated both enrolled and non-enrolled children between the ages of 6 and 14 through a network of over 67,000 government schools statewide. Children who receive treatment benefit immediately – previous research shows that school participation increases and children are better able to learn in school. The SSHCC is actively considering implementing a second round of deworming in 2012, with the goals of continuing treatment for the millions of children already reached, and expanding the program to include even more school-age children.
The large scale of the Bihar program exemplifies the success and positive impacts of school-based deworming. According to Dr. Lesley Drake, Executive Director of DtW, “there are very few interventions which are as safe, cost effective and as easy to administer as deworming. For less than 50 cents per year, a child can be free from worms and free to learn. The children of Bihar are already experiencing the benefits of treatment, and we will continue to support governments in their efforts to ensure that millions more children can live healthy lives and fully reap the benefits of education.”
Bihar provides a model that can be rapidly scaled up and sustained over time to improve the education, health and productivity of school-age children.
Find out more about school-based deworming at www.dewormtheworld.org
Deworm the World (DtW) is an initiative of Innovations for Poverty Action and the Partnership for Child Development. DtW works directly with Ministries of Education and Health, in coordination with development partners, to help launch, strengthen and sustain school-based deworming programmes.
DtW has helped to reach over 37 million children in 27 countries.
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