As of January 2021, COVID-19 has infected approximately 85.2 million people and killed more than 1.84 million people worldwide. Given the importance of individual behavior change in containing the spread of a pandemic, individuals must learn, trust, and apply various recommended health behaviors. In Ghana, researchers are measuring the impact of a quiz-style information strategy on people’s learning and adherence to COVID-19 health protocols.

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Professional advancement often depends on subjective performance reviews, especially in developing countries where objective data on performance may not be available. But subjective reviews may be susceptible to personal biases based on characteristics like gender. To better understand this in the education sector in Ghana, researchers compared both principals’ reviews and teacher self-assessments of effectiveness to an objective measure:  increases in student test scores.

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated social and economic downturn are undermining children's educational and development outcomes, particularly in low-and middle-income countries. Leveraging a previous study, researchers in Ghana are conducting phone surveys and other direct assessments to measure the pandemic’s repercussions on children’s education and broader development outcomes.

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Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, remote learning has been introduced in Ghana to ensure children continue learning while schools are closed. Equitable access to education is difficult to maintain during remote learning, and may increase inequalities by child gender and household backgrounds.

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Ghana, like many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, has greatly expanded access to primary school in the last two decades, but very few children meet academic standards for their grade.

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Low-capacity governments can face challenges in collecting the tax revenues necessary to promote economic development and provide public goods to their citizens. In partnership with Melchia Investments, a private Ghanaian technology company, researchers are conducting a pilot randomized evaluation to identify the effectiveness of a new tax collection technology in increasing property tax revenues for local governments.

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People often report wanting to save more money than they actually do, and rigorous evidence has shown that simple reminders to save can be effective at helping people save more. Researchers working with IPA carried out evaluations in Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic to build the evidence base about text-message reminders to save. In Ghana, the research team worked with Fidelity Bank to evaluate the impact of behaviorally targeted text messages on savings behavior.

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Household food security, defined as stable access to sufficient and nutritious food, is critical in the early years to meet a child’s developmental needs.

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Graduating the Ultra Poor in Ghana

More than one fifth of the world’s population lives on less than US$1.25 per day. While many credit and training programs have not been successful at raising income levels for these ultra-poor households, recent support for livelihoods programs has spurred interest in evaluating whether comprehensive “big push” interventions may allow for a sustainable transition to self-employment and a higher standard of living.

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In Ghana, many traditional credit providers like banks and microfinance institutions are wary of extending credit to small-scale farmers, fearful that they will inherit the risks inherent to farming; with limited access to traditional, formal credit, many farmers must rely on costly, informal loans. Researchers are evaluating the impact of an innovative mobile phone-based digital finance program on loan repayment rates, investment decisions, savings, and use of other financial services, as we

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Youth unemployment and underemployment are pressing policy challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa and job-training programs have not proven to be effective (or cost-effective) at improving youth labor market outcomes. In Ghana, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to estimate the impact of a government program that placed young people in traditional apprenticeships and matched them with training providers.

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More than a third of all women of reproductive age in sub-Saharan Africa are anemic. Women from low-income communities involved in fish-smoking may be at increased risk because of inadequate diets, exposure to infectious pathogens, as well as particulate matter and other pollutants through smoke.

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Despite major global progress in vaccination coverage, many children and young infants are vaccinated late, leaving them susceptible to life threatening, preventable illnesses. In Ghana, researchers are conducting a cluster randomized evaluation to investigate the impact of mobile-phone based reminders and an incentive system on early vaccination coverage. 

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Ghanaian girls dancing in drama presentation

Women face significant barriers to participation and leadership in politics and government in many countries, including Ghana. Shortly before Ghana’s 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections, researchers evaluated whether community meetings focused on encouraging women’s participation in local politics could close the gender gap that exists in grassroot politics. The evaluation found no change in women’s political participation or in views of gender norms in local politics.

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For millions of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, the shift from subsistence agriculture to engagement with markets is a promising way to improve rural livelihoods. However, engaging with markets often requires the difficult task of adopting new inputs, such as improved seed varieties and fertilizers, as well as implementing new farming techniques.

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