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IPA is synonymous with impact. We’re known for both measuring impact and using those results to impact people’s lives. In 2015, we further improved our research quality and grew in research quantity, and we began new efforts to share results to improve programs and policies for the poor. Since our founding in 2002, IPA has worked with over 400 leading academics to conduct over 600 evaluations in 51 countries. This research has informed hundreds of successful programs that now impact millions of individuals worldwide. Browse an online version of the report here: annualreport.poverty-action.org
Type:
Annual Report
Date:
September 12, 2016
English
Over the past five years, the SME Program at IPA has grown from an ambitious idea to a thriving, prolific, and influential initiative. It is with great enthusiasm that we share this report highlighting some of our accomplishments—which would not have been possible without the collaboration and support of so many of you. Our work began at the end of 2010, when we sat down with leading practitioners and academics working on entrepreneurship and SME growth in developing countries, and assessed the most pressing knowledge gaps in the sector. At the time, only a handful of impact evaluations had been conducted on SME support programs in developing countries, and there was an urgent need for evidence to help guide decision-making. Following that initial event, IPA launched the SME Program (formerly known as the “SME Initiative”), with the goal of addressing the existing knowledge gaps and generating evidence on the most effective solutions to the constraints SMEs face in developing countries...
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Report
Date:
January 12, 2017
English
Three hundred million of the world’s rural poor suffer from seasonal income insecurity, which often occurs between planting and harvest when the demand for agricultural labor falls and the price of food rises. Those who undergo a lean season typically miss meals for a two- to three-month period. This is especially problematic for pregnant women and young children since poor nutrition for even a short time can limit long-term cognitive and physical development. Seasonal hunger and deprivation is perhaps the biggest challenge to the reduction of global poverty that has remained largely under the radar. Members of some families in poor rural areas migrate to urban areas for work to cope with seasonal deprivation. In Bangladesh, however, researchers observed that many vulnerable households, who could potentially reap large benefits from temporary migration, didn’t send anyone away to work, thereby risking hunger. Why weren’t more people migrating? Would these households improve food securi...
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Brief
Date:
December 29, 2016
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Objectives. To evaluate whether text-messaging programs can improve reproductive health among adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries. Methods. We conducted a cluster–randomized controlled trial among 756 female students aged 14 to 24 years in Accra, Ghana, in 2014. We randomized 38 schools to unidirectional intervention (n = 12), interactive intervention (n = 12), and control (n = 14). The unidirectional intervention sent participants text messages with reproductive health information. The interactive intervention engaged adolescents in text-messaging reproductive health quizzes. The primary study outcome was reproductive health knowledge at 3 and 15 months. Additional outcomes included self-reported pregnancy and sexual behavior. Analysis was by intent-to-treat. Results. From baseline to 3 months, the unidirectional intervention increased knowledge by 11 percentage points (95% confidence interval [CI] = 7, 15) and the interactive intervention by 24 percentage points (95%...
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Published Paper
Date:
December 20, 2016
English
IPA Zambia is pleased to share with you its final bulletin of the year: "2016 in Review." This bulletin highlights ten of IPA Zambia's research projects, including updates from projects included in the previous bulletin as well as new contributions. We hope you enjoy this look at the high-quality evidence we've generated this past year, and we look forward to continuing this work with you in the year ahead.
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Brief
Date:
December 13, 2016
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Targeted interventions that sustainably improve the lives of the poor will be a critical component in eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. The poorest households tend to be physically and socially isolated and face disadvantages across multiple dimensions, which makes moving out of extreme poverty challenging and costly. This paper compares the cost-effectiveness of three strands of anti-poverty social protection interventions by reviewing 30 livelihood development programs, 11 lump-sum unconditional cash transfers, and seven graduation programs. All the selected graduation initiatives focused on the extreme poor, while the livelihood development and cash transfer programs targeted a broader set of beneficiaries. Impacts on annual household consumption (or on income when consumption data were not available) per dollar spent were used to benchmark cost-effectiveness across programs. Among all 48 programs reviewed, lump-sum cash transfers were found to have the highest benefit-cost ratio...
Type:
Report
Date:
December 13, 2016
English
Potential Energy: Monitoring Cookstoves Use Through Environmental Sensors Around the world, 3 billion people cook with biomass, causing over four million annual premature deaths, and generating 30% of global black carbon emissions. In addition to the acute health and environmental effects of biomass cooking, there are economic effects, as women across the developing world spend considerable time and money acquiring fuel. For a family in Sub-Saharan Africa, it can cost between 10-30% of total household income to purchase fuel for cooking fires.  Potential Energy (PE) is a not-for-profit organization with a mission of making cooking safe, and affordable, for women and their families. PE’s core product is the Berkeley-Darfur Stove (BDS), a high-efficiency wood-burning cookstove. As compared to preparing meals over an open fire, the BDS was designed to save users 50% on fuel while reducing cooking time and exposure to smoke. To date, PE’s primary focus has been the distribution of the BDS...
Type:
Goldilocks Toolkit
Date:
November 28, 2016
English
Antipoverty programs in developing countries are often difficult to implement; in particular, many governments lack the capacity to deliver payments securely to targeted beneficiaries. We evaluate the impact of biometrically authenticated payments infrastructure (“Smartcards”) on beneficiaries of employment (NREGS) and pension (SSP) programs in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, using a large-scale experiment that randomized the rollout of Smartcards over 157 subdistricts and 19 million people. We find that, while incompletely implemented, the new system delivered a faster, more predictable, and less corrupt NREGS payments process without adversely affecting program access. For each of these outcomes, treatment group distributions first-order stochastically dominated those of the control group. The investment was cost-effective, as time savings to NREGS beneficiaries alone were equal to the cost of the intervention, and there was also a significant reduction in the “leakage” of funds...
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Published Paper
Date:
October 31, 2016
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We implemented a randomized controlled trial among transnational households in the Philippines estimating impacts on financial behaviors of a financial education treatment, a financial access treatment, and the combination of the two. We test whether there are complementarities between financial education and financial access interventions, and also provide insight into the nature of constraints operating in financial services markets. We find no evidence of complementarities between the financial education and financial access treatments. In addition, while we find no evidence of constraints in access to formal credit and savings products, our results do suggest that access constraints exist in the formal insurance market. Impacts on other financial behaviors are suggestive of the importance of information constraints in financial decision-making. These results provide guidance to designers of financial interventions in similar populations.
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Working Paper
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September 22, 2016
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Background: The recent global climate agreement in Paris aims to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions while fostering sustainable development, and establishes an international trading mechanism to meet this goal. Currently, carbon offset program implementers are allowed to collect their own monitoring data to determine the number of carbon credits to be awarded. Objectives: We summarize reasons for mandating independent monitoring of greenhouse gas emission reduction projects. In support of our policy recommendations, we describe a case study of a program designed to earn carbon credits by distributing almost one million drinking water filters in rural Kenya to avert the use of fuel for boiling water. We compare results from an assessment conducted by our research team in the program area among households with pregnant women or caregivers in rural villages with low piped water access with the reported program monitoring data and discuss the implications. Discussion: Our assessment in Keny...
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Published Paper
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September 16, 2016
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Asymmetric information can be costly in insurance markets and can even hinder market development, as is the case for most agricultural insurance markets. I study information asymmetries in crop insurance in the Philippines using a randomized field experiment. Using a combination of preference elicitation, a two-level randomized allocation of insurance and detailed data collection, I test for and find evidence of adverse selection, moral hazard and their interaction – that is, selection on anticipated moral hazard behavior. I conclude that information asymmetry problems are substantial in this context and that variations on this experimental design may be useful in future work for identifying interactions between choice and treatment effects.
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Type:
Working Paper
Date:
September 07, 2016
English
Paving streets in marginalized neighborhoods in Mexico increased property values, allowing households to purchase more home appliances and vehicles and to invest more in home improvements.
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Type:
Brief
Date:
September 01, 2016
English
Systematic reviews of existing evidence show promising effects of community health worker (CHW) programs as a strategy to improve child survival, but also highlight challenges faced by CHW programs, including insufficient incentives to deliver timely and appropriate services. We assessed the effect of an incentivized community health delivery program in Uganda on all-cause under-five mortality.
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Type:
Working Paper
Date:
September 01, 2016
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Public employment programs play a major role in the anti-poverty strategy of many devel- oping countries. Besides the direct wages provided to the poor, such programs are likely to affect their welfare by changing broader labor market outcomes including wages and private employment. These general equilibrium effects may accentuate or attenuate the direct benefits of the program, but have been dicult to estimate credibly. We estimate the general equilibrium effects of a technological reform that improved the implementation quality of Indias public employment scheme on the earnings of the rural poor, using a large-scale experiment which randomized treatment across sub-districts of 60,000 people. We nd that this reform had a large impact on the earnings of low-income households, and that these gains were over- whelmingly driven by higher private-sector earnings (90%) as opposed to earnings directly from the program (10%). These earnings gains reflect a 5.7% increase in market wages for ru...
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Working Paper
Date:
August 30, 2016
Spanish
Una capacitación financiera simplificada basada en reglas prácticas mejoró las prácticas de negocios y los resultados económicos de microempresarios en República Dominicana, mientras que una capacitación técnica basada en principios contables tradicionales no produjo impactos significativos.
Type:
Brief
Date:
August 30, 2016
Spanish
El acceso a servicios nancieros es crucial para el crecimiento de la Pequeña y Mediana Empresa (PyME). Estos servicios permiten a los emprendedores innovar, incrementar su e ciencia, expandirse a nuevos mercados y crear nuevos puestos de trabajo. Sin embargo, la mayoría de las PyMEs en países en desarrollo son incapaces de conseguir el nanciamiento necesario para alcanzar su potencial. Proporcionar nanciamiento a las PyMEs en dichos países puede ser riesgoso y costoso para los prestamistas, lo que ha llevado a una brecha de crédito de aproximadamente un billón de dólares (IFC, 2011). Para reducir la brecha de crédito, instituciones nancieras, gobiernos y donantes han invertido en una gran cantidad de programas y políticas orientadas a proporcionar a las PyMEs el nanciamiento necesario para crecer e innovar. No obstante, la e cacia de estos programas en reducir los obstáculos para el nanciamiento de las PyMEs no ha sido evaluada con rigor. El Programa PyME en Innovations for P...
Type:
Brief
Date:
August 12, 2016
English
We evaluated a program to improve literacy instruction on the Kenyan coast using training workshops, semiscripted lesson plans, and weekly text-message support for teachers to understand its impact on students’ literacy outcomes and on the classroom practices leading to those outcomes. The evaluation ran from the beginning of Grade 1 to the end of Grade 2 in 51 government primary schools chosen at random, with 50 schools acting as controls. The intervention had an impact on classroom practices with effect sizes from 0.57 to 1.15. There was more instruction with written text and more focus on letters and sounds. There was a positive impact on three of four primary measures of children’s literacy after two years, with effect sizes up to 0.64, and school dropout reduced from 5.3% to 2.1%. This approach to literacy instruction is sustainable, and affordable and a similar approach has subsequently been adopted nationally in Kenya.
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Published Paper
Date:
August 11, 2016
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One Acre Fund: Measuring Yields from Space A substantial proportion of the world’s poor are smallholder farmers, and measuring their productivity is a basic first step in understanding where livelihoods are improving (and where additional help is needed).  Unfortunately, comprehensive data on farmers’ productivity do not exist.  They are collected piecemeal by researchers and governments in limited areas of the globe, and over limited periods, typically using household surveys which are both expensive and time consuming.  One Acre Fund (1AF) is a social enterprise working with such farmers in East Africa. 1AF’s mission is to address long-standing barriers to farmer productivity. 1AF provides seeds and fertilizers on credit, delivers agricultural inputs within walking distance of farmers’ homes, trains farmers on how to use inputs most effectively, helps them store their crops safely, and links them to local traders to provide access to markets. This comprehensive approach is geared tow...
Type:
Goldilocks Toolkit
Date:
August 09, 2016
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Premise: Monitoring Food Prices in Post-Disaster Environments In most countries, government agencies collect data on the prices of consumer goods throughout the year, using periodic market and household level surveys run by National Statistics Offices (NSOs). The data are reported in aggregate (in the form of a monthly consumer price index, for example) and are used for central planning and macroeconomic policy as well as private sector decision-making.  In tandem, the World Food Programme (WFP) monitors prices for a small set of staple goods, particularly in areas of the world prone to food insecurity, where emergencies are frequent and resources to collect high quality data are scarce. WFP is a United Nations (UN) humanitarian agency that fights hunger worldwide through food aid, emergency assistance, and disaster prevention activities. A key function of the agency is to track food security globally, through a program of Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM). The VAM is a collecti...
Type:
Goldilocks Toolkit
Date:
August 09, 2016
English
This paper identifies separate and unique pathways to profits among small businesses in South Africa that are exposed to marketing or finance training in a randomized control study. The marketing group achieves greater profits by adopting a growth focus on higher sales, greater investments in stock and materials, and hiring more employees. The finance group achieves similar profit gains but through an efficiency focus on lower costs. Both groups show significantly higher adoption of business practices related to their respective training program. Consistent with a growth focus, marketing/sales skills are significantly more beneficial to firm owners who ex ante have less exposure to different business contexts. In contrast and in line with an efficiency focus, entrepreneurs who have been running more established businesses prior to training benefit significantly more from finance/accounting skills.
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Working Paper
Date:
July 30, 2016

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