Regular data collection with populations on the move is challenging for practitioners and researchers alike. With the support of IPA Colombia, the Immigration Policy Lab and Mercy Corps built and used a novel technology-assisted partially automated WhatsApp survey to interview Venezuelan migrants in Colombia and assess key indicators such as food security and well-being in a global pandemic.

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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV and syphilis can pose significant health risks for people who contract them and also create public health concerns if they spread. Safer sex can help to mitigate these risks, particularly for female sex workers who have a higher exposure to STIs. In Tanzania, researchers are evaluating whether cash incentives motivated female sex workers to practice safer sex with their clients and reduce their likelihood of contracting STIs.

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Despite the availability of new agricultural technologies, which may increase yields and household income, few farmers in the Sahel region are using improved seeds and fertilizers. In Burkina Faso, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to measure the impact of social network targeting on the introduction of micro-dosing– a technique that applied small amounts of fertilizer at the time of planting improved seeds.

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How can we improve students' educational achievement? Can radio instruction successfully support distance learning, particularly in settings such as the COVID-19 pandemic? In rural Peru, researchers measured whether remote support from educational coaches for caregivers during MateWasi — a radio program with interactive math lessons for preschool-aged children— impacted their children’s math learning outcomes.

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Mangrove in the Dominican Republic

Mangroves play an important role in protecting the environment and communities from natural disasters and climate change. As the effects of climate change worsen, the conservation of ecosystems that are natural climate solutions becomes paramount to alleviate further risks. Research suggests that education programs linked with sports may help stimulate community awareness and engagement in conservation activities.

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In international markets, high-quality coffee that is ripe, undamaged, and washed can be sold for substantially higher prices than lower-quality coffee. However, for many reasons, farmers in low-income countries produce coffee that does not always meet the quality standards demanded by international buyers.

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The ability to recruit, elicit effort from, and retain civil servants is a central issue for any government. Can pay-for-performance contracts successfully maintain a skilled and motivated workforce? In Rwanda, researchers partnered with the Rwanda Education Board to design a pay-for-performance contract for teachers and measure its impact on both the composition of recruited teachers and their performance.

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For displaced migrants, running a small or medium enterprise may be a promising opportunity to attain a stable livelihood in their host country. However, they may need access to finance and business training to successfully run an enterprise. In Peru, researchers are delivering cash grants and business training to Venezuelan migrant entrepreneurs and assessing the impacts on the short- and long-term success of enterprises as well as migrants’ food security, health, and income.

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Uganda has one of the highest prevalences of intimate partner violence (IPV) globally. Research suggests community leaders can promote behavioral change, thereby reducing IPV. In Uganda, researchers conducted an impact evaluation of a faith-based couples counseling program called Becoming One. To attract a wide audience, Becoming One does not directly address violence, focusing instead on improving couples' relationships and shifting decision-making power.

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Young men in Liberia

Urban crime and violence is one of the most costly and divisive issues facing cities around the world. Short-term studies have demonstrated that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapeutic approach to improving a wide range of harmful beliefs and behaviors, is an effective way to reduce violence and criminality among adolescents and young adults.

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Digital remittances may be an effective tool for addressing extreme poverty in rural areas, but little is known about how to maximize their impact. In Bangladesh, researchers are working with IPA, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and BRAC Bank to evaluate the impact of aligning the financial goals of  remittance senders and recipients on financial behavior.

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Can training programs in the creative industries such as music provide opportunities to help improve youths’ technical and nontechnical skills to be prepared for and be successful in the modern economy? In Colombia, researchers are evaluating the impact of a music entrepreneurship and life planning program on fostering technical and soft skills development among youth.

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Structural barriers including discrimination, gender-specific social and personal stigma, lower economic mobility and access to technology, and individual barriers including low self-efficacy and external locus of control (i.e., outcomes based on luck or chance), are among the challenges that can discourage women from resolving disputes with financial service providers when they arise. As a result, this can impede their use of key digital services.

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Globally, women have experienced the socioeconomic impacts from COVID-19 particularly severely. The pandemic led to a dramatic short-term downturn in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector, an industry in which women predominate. Researchers worked with IPA to survey RMG workers during the first year of the pandemic, collecting short- to medium-term data on the crisis’ impacts on workers’ livelihoods.

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Ethnomathematics, an approach to teaching mathematics that incorporates local cultural understandings of mathematics, may improve student learning in indigenous communities. Researchers worked with IPA and the Inter-American Development Bank to conduct a randomized evaluation of an ethnomathematics program called JADENKÄ developed by Panama’s government for preschool students in the country’s Ngäbe-Buglé region.

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Understanding the level of vaccine acceptance is crucial for the design and implementation of public health campaigns to achieve mass vaccination against COVID-19. Phone surveys have been the most frequent way to collect this information, yet they pose measurement challenges that could bias the results.

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Digital technologies enable new financial products to reach historically unbanked populations, increasing financial access but also raising questions as to their broader social and economic impact. In Nigeria, researchers are working with a digital financial service provider who provided loans to applicants to assess how access to digital loans impacts the welfare of borrowers.

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Evidence suggests that microloans often fail to improve outcomes for borrowers, but providing micro-enterprises with larger loans may be more effective in helping them grow, while increasing business opportunities for microfinance lenders and reducing poverty.

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Mobile financial services have become the main channel of financial inclusion, especially in low-income countries. However, consumer protection failures in the sector remain common.

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