Ownership and use of bank accounts is low in many developing countries. Researchers partnered with banks in three countries to see if removing the costs to opening basic bank accounts would lead to more households opening and using bank accounts. Overall, use of the accounts was low across all three countries, and being offered a free, basic bank account had no impact on savings, expenditures, health, or education.
The lack of formal financial services in rural areas may inhibit farmers from saving, investing, and smoothing their consumption. Researchers analyzed the effect of reducing barriers to saving in rural Malawi on savings behavior, investment in agricultural inputs, and consumption. They found that farmers with access to formal savings accounts preserved greater amounts of savings throughout both the harvest and planting seasons.
At the end of 2009, 22.5 million people were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) facilities in the region has grown significantly over time, but utilization of the services has remained low. Researchers evaluated the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project (MDICP), which sought to explore the demand for, and the impact of, learning one’s HIV status.
Poor subsistence farmers often see adoption of new technologies, such as hybrid seeds, as risky because they fear the up-front investment will not pay off and they could be worse off, particularly in the case of drought. Yet new technologies can help farmers produce more food. So what happens if the risk of trying a new technology is removed? Few studies have evaluated whether providing insurance can increase the adoption of profitable agricultural technologies.
In Malawi, most of the population works in agriculture and many people grow just enough food to survive, sometimes less. Agricultural technology can enable farmers to grow more food, but questions remain about how to get farmers to adopt new technologies and more efficient farming methods. Researchers in this study examine if certain established social networks can break down information barriers and increase adoption of new agricultural technology in Malawi.
Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) are thought to play a critical role in bringing financial services to rural areas of developing countries, where access to formal financial services is typically very limited. However, evidence on the impact of these groups has been sparse. In Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda, Innovations for Poverty Action worked with researchers and CARE to rigorously evaluate the impact of VSLAs on rural households.
Access to transportation is generally considered to be a fundamental determinant of economic growth and a significant factor in an individual’s health, schooling, and economic status. In Malawi, researchers studied the introduction of a daily minibus service that connected five rural villages and the nearby market town. Although a majority of households used the new bus service, demand was very sensitive to price and was never sufficient to cover operational costs.