Innovations for Poverty Action’s Peace & Recovery (P&R) competitive research fund supports randomized evaluations and related research on reducing violence and fragility, promoting peace, and preventing, managing, and recovering from crises. The program supports policy-relevant studies that develop, illustrate, or test fundamental theories of peace, violence, and recovery, especially those that challenge common beliefs, pioneer innovative interventions, and produce evidence where little currently exists. To date, we have funded over 80 projects in approximately 30 countries.
A large and growing segment of the Bangladesh population are digital financial service (DFS) users, yet little has been done to investigate the range and prevalence of consumer protection issues that occur with these services such as fraud, hidden fees, and ineffective complaints mechanisms. In other markets, evidence suggests some customer segments, for example, women and lower-income customers may experience these issues at higher rates than the population at large. To better understand the nature of risks in DFS in Bangladesh, IPA conducted a phone survey of DFS users in November 2021, the results of which are presented in this report.
This report finds that scams, overcharging, and poor customer care were the most common consumer protection challenges faced by digital financial service users, although these were all reported at lower levels than similar surveys in Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda. The report also reveals that consumers often do not report challenges through formal complaints channels, and when they do, most consumers report the issue was not resolved to their satisfaction. These issues highlight the need for new monitoring tools such as complaints data analysis and agent mystery shopping to detect and reduce these consumer protection challenges. Additionally, there is a need to design and test interventions that may encourage the use of formal redress channels—and measure their effects via impact evaluation studies. Consumer segmentation research will also bring more understanding to the dynamics of who reports and why they report in order to throw more light on any apparent discrepancies.
In mid-2020, IPA partnered with researchers from Yale University, Stanford University, and other organizations like Green Voice in Bangladesh to research different strategies to increase mask-wearing and measure its impact on COVID-19. They found that the now called NORM model, consisting of No-cost free masks distribution, offering information on mask-wearing, Reinforcement in-person and in public, and Modeling and endorsement by trusted leaders tripled mask-wearing, increased physical distancing and reduced COVID-19. IPA partnered with Shakti Foundation to tweak this rural model into an urban context for Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and replicate the NORM program for an urban population. Overall, the intervention seemed to increase mask-wearing among middle-aged (30 to 50 years old) and men more. It has also been learning to understand the implementation impacts and challenges of the NORM module in urban areas, which has been designed in the rural setting.
About 17 percent of the world’s population has received at least one COVID-19-related cash transfer payment since the onset of the pandemic. Many of these transfers have been conducted digitally to efficiently and safely provide economic relief to affected households. Amongst low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that offered cash transfers, 58 disbursed funds directly to a fully functioning bank account, an account only for benefit withdrawal, or a digital non-bank account. Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) research from the Philippines, Colombia, and Bangladesh explores consumers’ experience with digital cash transfers, and supports policy recommendations to improve the effectiveness of G2P payments and future financial inclusion.
Aproximadamente el 17 por ciento de la población mundial ha recibido al menos una transferencia monetaria a causa de la contingencia del COVID-19. Muchas de estas transferencias se han realizado de forma digital para brindar alivio económico de una manera eficiente y segura a los hogares más impactados por la emergencia sanitaria. Entre los países de ingresos bajos y medios que ofrecieron transferencias monetarias, 58 desembolsaron fondos de forma directa ya sea a cuentas bancarias que ya se encontraban activas, a cuentas destinadas únicamente al retiro de las transferencias o una cuenta digital no bancaria. Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) realizó una investigación en Filipinas, Colombia y Bangladesh para explorar la experiencia de los beneficiarios con las transferencias monetarias digitales. Como resultado, IPA emite una serie de recomendaciones para mejorar la eficacia de los pagos gobierno a persona (G2P) así como para fomentar la inclusión financiera.
A randomized-trial of community-level mask promotion in rural Bangladesh during COVID-19 shows that the intervention increased mask-use and reduced symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections.
In settings where an individual's labor choices are constrained, the inability to work may generate psychosocial harm. This paper presents a causal estimate of the psychosocial value of employment in the Rohingya refugee camps of Bangladesh. We engage 745 individuals in a field experiment with three arms: (1) a control arm, (2) a weekly cash arm, and (3) a gainful employment arm, in which work is o ered and individuals are paid weekly the approximate equivalent of that in the cash arm. We find that employment confers significant psychosocial benefits beyond the impacts of cash alone, with effects concentrated among males. The cash arm does not improve psychosocial wellbeing, despite the provision of cash at a weekly amount that is more than twice the amount held by recipients in savings at baseline. Consistent with these findings, we find that 66% of those in our work treatment are willing to forego cash payments to instead work for free. Our results have implications for social protection policies for the unemployed in low income countries and refugee populations globally.