In emerging markets, women own nearly one-third of small and medium enterprises, but their average growth rate is significantly slower than that of male-owned SMEs. Working women in developing countries also often face significant stresses from the combination of long working hours, family responsibilities and barriers to work that requires being away from home.
Agricultural production entails large risks from crop failure that can leave small farmers who lack other sources of income without enough food for the year. Attempts to reduce these risks through insurance contracts have typically been unsuccessful because farmers have chosen not to buy insurance when it comes time to plant.
For new democracies and societies emerging from conflict, effective systems of dispute resolution are essential to maintaining a lasting peace and preventing violence. In Liberia, researchers examined the impact of introducing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) trainings on the rate at which community members resolved property disputes, the level of satisfaction with the resolution, and the incidence of violence related to the disputes.
In theory, local government meetings provide important opportunities for citizens to be directly involved in decisions about important services that affect their daily lives. In practice, citizens can be disengaged from local governments, either because they are uninformed or because they do not believe their involvement is welcome or effective.
Curbing deforestation in developing countries may be a cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. Innovations for Poverty Action worked with researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of a payments for ecosystem services (PES) program, in which Ugandan landowners were paid not to cut forest trees on their property.
Startups in developing countries grow more slowly over their life cycle than those in high-income countries, but the reason why is not understood. Slow growth could be due to difficulties for firms’ increasing productivity or because of difficulties boosting demand for their products.
Democratic accountability relies on performance-based voting, in which citizens vote based on candidates’ expected or previous performance. Yet, if citizens do not have this information, they cannot use it to inform their vote choices.
Seasonal hunger affects 300 million of the world’s rural poor. Seasonal migration can help some people find temporary employment, but many of those who could potentially benefit from migration face financial constraints that prevent them from traveling during the lean season. Researchers investigated whether providing low-cost travel incentives increases migration, and whether migrants experience better food security as a result of their travel.
Advances in payments technology have the potential to improve the efficiency of slow and corrupt public welfare programs. Researchers tested how Smartcards, which coupled electronic transfers with biometric authentication, affected the functioning of two government welfare schemes in India. They found that even though the new Smartcard system was not fully implemented, it resulted in a faster and less corrupt payments process without adversely affecting program access.
Intensified use of agricultural inputs, particularly fertilizer, is a possible route to improved agricultural productivity. Evaluations of fertilizer use show substantial increases in yields, but they are typically done on highly monitored experimental plots rather than by farmers themselves.
Poor sanitation in the developing world leads to major diseases, increased public health expenditures, and causes childhood diarrhea, a leading cause of mortality in children under five.i To explore how market interventions can be designed to address the unique sanitation challenges faced in developing countries, Innovations for Poverty Action is working with researchers to evaluate the impact of an information intervention on access to improved sanitation services in Accra, Ghana.
Malawi’s public works program is the largest social protection scheme in one of the world’s poorest countries. Although public works programs are widespread, they can be costly, and there is limited evidence of their effectiveness. Researchers worked with Innovations for Poverty Action and the Malawi Social Action Fund to evaluate the program’s effect on food security.
Extractive industries represent a major part of the local economy in many rural parts of Peru, but these communities often do not experience development improvements due to corruption and poor management. Can access to information about the distribution of royalties improve political accountability, increase local political participation, and reduce conflict related to extractive industries?
Helping the ultra-poor develop sustainable livelihoods is a global priority, but policymakers are faced with competing ideas about the best way to approach this problem. Researchers are working with Village Enterprise and Innovations for Poverty Action in Uganda to evaluate programs with contrasting styles of engagement with ultra-poor households.
In cities where crime tends to be concentrated in a small number of places, police forces often adopt geography-based approaches to crime reduction. However, increasing policing in one area may simply displace crime to another area, leaving the overall level unchanged. Researchers are working in Bogotá, Colombia to assess whether concentrated policing or increased municipal clean-ups in high-crime areas can reduce—rather than simply displace—crime.
Behavioral research suggests that self-control, procrastination, attention, and other behavioral factors may limit individuals’ ability to save for the long-term. New mobile money platforms in many developing countries are creating financial products that can help low- and moderate-income individuals overcome these barriers.
Traditional savings accounts often have low or negative returns, which may explain why many poor households do not use them to boost their savings. Researchers are investigating the impact of a new product that allows Kenyans to invest small amounts of money in a low-risk, high-return infrastructure bond using their mobile phones.
Intestinal helminths—including hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and schistosomiasis—infect more than one in four people worldwide. Researchers evaluated the long-run impacts of a mass school-based deworming program in Western Kenya. Approximately 10 years after treatment, researchers found that the program increased women’s educational attainment and men’s labor supply, with accompanying shifts in occupation choice.
Improving adolescents’ access to information about safe sex practices is crucial for safeguarding the health of future generations. In Ghana, Innovations for Poverty Action and researchers evaluated the impact of a program that provided young women with information on reproductive health via text messages. The study found that the program improved young women’s knowledge about contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and other reproductive health topics.
Truth and reconciliation programs have become a common approach for rebuilding social ties and promoting healing among communities in the aftermath of war, but little is known about these programs’ effectiveness. In Sierra Leone, researchers partnered with the local NGO Fambul Tok to evaluate the impact of a community-based reconciliation program.