Elected government officials in many developing countries often do a poor job of performing their core responsibilities of providing public goods, developing legislation and regulation, and representing their constituents at the national level. Additionally, primary elections often cater to the elite and lack input from the average voter.

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Evidence suggests that approaches based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can improve mental health and reduce crime and violence in post-conflict areas. However, delivering CBT programs is a challenge in settings that lack trained staff and therapeutic facilities. Researchers in Sierra Leone are exploring alternate delivery platforms to bring evidence-based mental health interventions to youth facing conflict and adversity in West Africa.

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Can social incentives increase demand for skilled pregnancy care? How much do people care to signal to others that they looked after their and their children's health? How much do people learn from observing others’ actions?

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Can social incentives increase timely and complete immunizations? How much do people care to signal to others that they look after their and their children’s health? How much do people learn from observing others’ actions?

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A rural community gathers in Sierra Leone

Truth and reconciliation programs have become a common approach for rebuilding social ties and promoting healing among communities in the aftermath of war, but little is known about these programs’ effectiveness. In Sierra Leone, researchers partnered with the local NGO Fambul Tok to evaluate the impact of a community-based reconciliation program.

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While political debates are often considered an integral part of campaign strategy, there is little definitive evidence on whether they affect how people vote. In Sierra Leone, researchers partnered with the civil society organization Search for Common Ground to evaluate how the dissemination of political information through debates impacts voter behavior, campaign spending, and the performance of elected politicians.

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A cocoa farmer in Sierra Leone

In perfectly competitive markets, higher valued agricultural products should translate into higher prices, putting more money in the pockets of farmers. However, changes in value tend to reach producers at a lower rate in developing economies, which may be a result of the nature of the relationships between farmers and traders in this context.

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A young boy and girl gather rice in Sierra Leone

The economic impacts of the Ebola virus required monitoring in real time for policymakers to estimate the short- and long-term costs of the epidemic and respond appropriately, yet information on the magnitude of the effects was scarce. The aim of this monthly survey in Sierra Leone was to measure the economic and social impacts of the outbreak on households and provide timely updates on the survey's findings to policymakers.

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Starting the summer of 2014, many risk factors pointed to a potential food crisis in areas of West Africa hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak. Innovations for Poverty Action, in partnership with researchers and the International Growth Center, began monitoring markets across Sierra Leone for changes in food prices and supply. Researchers provided rapid feedback to the government and other development partners on where food shortages were occurring. 

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The emerging markets of low-income countries are often characterized by uncertainty and instability, weak enforcement of formal contracts, and concentrated market power, making informal contractual relationships especially important. When market structures change, how do those relationships change?

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During an Ebola outbreak, the rapid identification, diagnosis, and isolation of those infected is essential to preventing the further spread of infection.

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Sierra Leone’s government made agriculture its top priority beginning in 2008, but policymakers lacked information about the status of the sector. In August 2009, the Government of Sierra Leone commissioned a large-scale survey to obtain accurate and credible agricultural data that could serve as a baseline for years to come.

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Adolescent girls living in low-income settings may be trapped in a vicious cycle that prevents them from attaining employment and achieving better health outcomes and reproductive autonomy. Researchers will evaluate the impact of a program in Sierra Leone that aims to address this problem by bundling health education, vocational skills training, and micro-credit.

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Can non-financial incentives improve the performance of health care workers in countries with cash-strapped health systems? In this study, researchers evaluated the impact of two types of non-financial incentives aimed at improving the quality of healthcare and the utilization of services at health clinics in Sierra Leone.

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