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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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An advertisement for waste management in Accra, Ghana.

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.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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Savings on a Mobile Money Platform in Afghanistan

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.

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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.

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A child is given deworming medicine in Kenya

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.

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SMS messages are used to improve grils' knowledge of reproductive health In Ghana

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.

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Small business growth is crucial for helping the poor improve their livelihoods, but expensive and inflexible financial products restrict business owners’ access to credit and constrain profits. Innovations for Poverty Action is supporting research that examines whether new financial products can help Indian female market vendors pursue borrowing strategies tailored to their business needs, while building up a reserve of savings they can use to finance week-to-week inventory purchases.

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IPA works with researchers in Ghana to evaluate different variations of the Graduation program

The Graduation Approach, a model for holistic livelihoods programs, has been proven to have lasting impacts on poor families’ income, assets, food security, and mental health, but these programs can be expensive to implement.

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Researchers in Côte d’Ivoire evaluate an economic empowerment and gender dialogue program on domestic violence

Intimate partner violence is a pervasive health and human rights concern, but relatively little is known about how to reduce gender-based violence in conflict-affected settings. In Côte d’Ivoire, researchers evaluated the impact of an economic empowerment and gender dialogue program on domestic violence and gender norms.

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IPA researchers investigate the impact of subsidies and healthworker visits on healthcare use in Mali

Reducing child mortality is a high priority for many governments, but policymakers disagree about how to fund children’s healthcare. While charging fees may prevent poor families from accessing care, subsidizing care may lead to overuse and wasted resources. Innovations for Poverty Action worked with researchers to investigate the impact of subsidies and health worker visits on use of healthcare among young children in Mali.

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Governments often implement a number of policies intended to support small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to grow and expand. One such government tool is to use tax breaks to reward small and medium-sized firms for investing. While such investment tax credits are widely practiced, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of these policies in promoting firm investment, employment, or growth.

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A microentrepreneur in Ghana interviews with an IPA surveyor

Of the two billion people living on less than $2 per day, roughly half run a business. Finding effective approaches to enhance the productivity and performance of these businesses is considered key to economic growth in many developing economies.

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A crowded urban area in Bangladesh

Poor sanitation is estimated to cause 280,000 deaths per year, and may also contribute to serious long-term health conditions, despite the existence of simple, effective solutions.

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