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We use a randomized experiment in Kenya to study the impact of unconditional cash transfers on intimate partner violence. Transfers to women of on average USD 709 led to a 0.26 standard deviation (SD) decrease in physical violence, and transfers to men to a 0.18 SD decrease. Sexual violence was reduced after transfers to women (0.22 SD), but not men. We construct a theory which together with our empirical findings suggests that husbands use violence to extract resources, but dislike it otherwise. We observe large and significant spillovers: nonrecipient women in treatment villages report a 0.16 SD reduction in physical violence.

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Working Paper
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February 24, 2019
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Background Novartis Access is a Novartis programme that offers a portfolio of non-communicable disease medicines at a wholesale price of US$1 per treatment per month in low-income and middle-income countries. We evaluated the effect of Novartis Access in Kenya, the first country to receive the programme. Methods We did a cluster-randomised controlled trial in eight counties in Kenya. Counties (clusters) were randomly assigned to the intervention or the control group with a covariate-constrained randomisation procedure that maximised balance on a set of demographic and health variables. In intervention counties, public and non-profit health facilities were allowed to purchase Novartis Access medicines from the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS). Data were collected from all facilities served by MEDS and a sample of households in study counties. Households were eligible if they had at least one adult patient who had been diagnosed and prescribed medicines for one of the non-communicable diseases targeted by the programme: hypertension, heart failure, dyslipidaemia, type 2 diabetes, asthma, or breast cancer. Primary outcomes were availability and price of portfolio medicines at health facilities, irrespective of brand; and availability of medicines at patient households. Impacts were estimated with intention-to-treat analysis. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02773095).

Findings On March 8, 2016, we randomly assigned eight clusters to intervention (four clusters; 74 health facilities; 342 patients) or control (four clusters; 63 health facilities; 297 patients). 69 intervention and 58 control health facilities, and 306 intervention and 265 control patients were evaluated after a 15 month intervention period (last visit February 28, 2018). Novartis Access significantly increased the availability of amlodipine (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2·84, 95% CI 1·10 to 7·37; p=0·031) and metformin (aOR 4·78, 95% CI 1·44 to 15·86; p=0·011) at health facilities, but did not affect the availability of portfolio medicines overall (adjusted β [aβ] 0·05, 95% CI –0·01 to 0·10; p=0·096) or their price (aβ 0·48, 95% CI –1·12 to 0·72; p=0·500). The programme did not affect medicine availability at patient households (aOR 0·83, 95% CI 0·44 to 1·57; p=0·569).

Interpretation Novartis Access had little effect in its first year in Kenya. Access programmes operate within complex health systems and reducing the wholesale price of medicines might not always or immediately translate to improved patient access. The evidence generated by this study will inform Novartis’s efforts to improve their programme going forward. The study also contributes to the public evidence base on strategies for improving access to medicines globally

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February 21, 2019
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Voter mobilization campaigns face trade-offs in young democracies. In a large-scale experiment implemented in 2013 with the Kenyan Electoral Commission (IEBC), text messages intended to mobilize voters boosted participation but also decreased trust in electoral institutions after the election, a decrease that was stronger in areas that experienced election-related violence, and for individuals on the losing side of the election. The mobilization backfired because the IEBC promised an electronic voting system that failed, resulting in manual voting and tallying delays. Using a simple model, we show signaling high institutional capacity via a mobilization campaign can negatively affect beliefs about the fairness of the election.

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Working Paper
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February 05, 2019
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Developing country lenders are taking advantage of fintech tools to create fully digital loans on mobile phones. Using administrative and survey data, we study the take up and impacts of one of the most popular digital loan products in the world, M-Shwari in Kenya. While 34% of those eligible for a loan take it, the loan does not substitute for other credit. The loans improve household resilience: households are 6.3 percentage points less likely to forego expenses due to negative shocks. We conclude that while digital loans improve financial access and resilience, they are not a panacea for greater credit market failures.

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February 01, 2019
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Background: Helminth and protozoan infections affect >1 billion children globally. Improved water, sanitation, handwashing, and nutrition could be more sustainable control strategies for parasite infections than mass drug administration (MDA), while providing other quality of life benefits. Methods and Findings: We enrolled geographic clusters of pregnant women into a cluster-randomized controlled trial that tested six interventions: disinfecting drinking water(W), improved sanitation(S), handwashing with soap(H), combined WSH, improved nutrition(N), and combined WSHN. We assessed intervention effects on parasite infections by measuring Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, hookworm, and Giardia duodenalis among individual children born to enrolled mothers and their older siblings (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01704105). We collected stool specimens from 9077 total children in 622 clusters, including 2346 children in control, 1117 in water, 1160 in sanitation, 1141 in handwashing, 1064 in WSH, 1072 in nutrition, and 1177 in WSHN. In the control group, 23% of children were infected with Ascaris lumbricoides, 1% with Trichuris trichuria, 2% with hookworm and 39% with Giardia duodenalis. After two years of intervention exposure, Ascaris infection prevalence was 18% lower in the water treatment arm (95% confidence interval (CI) 0%, 33%), 22% lower in the WSH arm (CI 4%, 37%), and 22% lower in the WSHN arm (CI 4%, 36%) compared to control. Individual sanitation, handwashing, and nutrition did not significantly reduce Ascaris infection on their own, and integrating nutrition with WSH did not provide additional benefit. Trichuris and hookworm were rarely detected, resulting in imprecise effect estimates. No intervention reduced Giardia. Reanalysis of stool samples by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) confirmed the reductions in Ascaris infections measured by microscopy in the WSH and WSHN groups. Lab technicians and data analysts were blinded to treatment assignment, but participants and sample collectors were not blinded. The trial was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID. Conclusions: Our results suggest integration of improved water quality, sanitation, and handwashing could contribute to sustainable control strategies for Ascaris infections, particularly in similar settings with recent or ongoing deworming programs. Water treatment alone was similarly effective to integrated WSH, providing new evidence that drinking water should be given increased attention as a transmission pathway for Ascaris. Clinical trial registration ID #NCT01704105.

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November 09, 2018
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African agricultural markets are characterized by low revenues for farmers and high food prices for consumers. Many have worried that this wedge is partially driven by imperfect competition among intermediaries. This paper provides experimental evidence from Kenya on intermediary market structure. Experimentally elicited parameters governing cost pass-through and demand curvature are used to calibrate a structural model of market competition. Estimates reveal a high degree of intermediary market power, with large implied losses to consumer welfare and market e ciency. Exogenously induced firm entry has negligible effects on prices and competitiveness parameters, implying that marginal entry does not meaningfully enhance competition.

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Working Paper
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September 08, 2018

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