Many post-conflict countries suffer from high rates of crime, violence, and unrest. Early warning systems, if viable, would help police and peacekeepers anticipate violence before it happens. But is it possible to predict where violence will occur? In response to this question, researchers built a statistical model based on data IPA gathered over four years in the most conflict-prone areas of Liberia. The model correctly predicted 88 percent of violence two years into the future, albeit at the expense of many incorrect predictions that violence would occur. The study also found that of 56 potential risk factors, only a handful consistently predicted violence over time—especially ethnic diversity and polarization. The study should be replicated to determine whether these results generalize beyond these communities and time periods.
Student learning levels across East Africa remain extremely low, despite more than a decade of major reforms and significant new investments in public education. To help generate rigorous evidence on what works, researchers are evaluating the impact of an education intervention that sends grants directly to schools and pays teachers a performance-based bonus.
Containing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa requires rapid identification, diagnosis and isolation of those who develop Ebola, but the current system for tracing Ebola contacts may be slowing down this process. IPA-Sierra Leone is working with the International Medical Corps and researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to introduce and evaluate an electronic system that uses mobile devices to identify and track Ebola contacts. If successful, the electronic system could be scaled-up rapidly.
Introducing biometric identification substantially increased repayment rates amongst Malawian farmers with the highest risk of default. Researchers are now examining the large-scale impact of biometric technology on repayment and borrower behavior at microfinance institutions across the country.
Rural finance is considered a key tool to reduce poverty, yet more evidence is needed on how to make financing work best for poor farmers. This study with farming communities in Burkina Faso evaluates the impact of inventory credit on agricultural production, food security and resilience, as well as on informal systems for lending, borrowing and saving.
Does the migration of highly educated people from developing countries hurt local economies, decimating their human capital and fiscal revenue? Or does a highly educated diaspora serve to develop economies through remittances, trade, foreign direct investment and knowledge transfers? Researchers tracked academic high achievers from five countries and found large positive benefits of high-skilled migration for citizens of high emigration countries. The largest benefits were to the migrants themselves, who benefit through massive gains in income and through greater human capital. Meanwhile, while most high-skilled migrants from poorer countries remitted, involvement in trade and foreign direct investment was rare. Fiscal costs to the countries of origin varied widely but were much less than the benefits to the migrants themselves.