Many farming households in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to formal credit and struggle to make ends meet between harvests. In a previous evaluation, researchers found that increasing access to credit during the hungry season helped farming households in rural Zambia allocate labor more efficiently, leading to improvements in productivity and well-being.

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Previous evidence suggests that providing bicycles to school girls reduced the gender gap in school enrollment in India, but little has been known about the impact of bicycle distribution programs in sub-Saharan Africa and whether such programs can increase girls’ empowerment. In rural Zambia, researchers partnered with World Bicycle Relief (WBR) to evaluate the impact of bicycle access on girls’ educational and empowerment outcomes.

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A Zambian health worker administers medicine

The quality of healthcare and other public services depends critically on the efforts of those who provide these services, but little is known about how to recruit the highest-performing public service providers. The Government of Zambia partnered with researchers to test the effect of two different recruitment strategies for a newly created healthcare position, the Community Health Assistant (CHA).

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Though Zambia has made significant progress in increasing access to education, allocation of resources within the system remains a challenge. This study describes the distribution of teachers across public primary schools in Zambia, examines the underlying administrative challenges and geographic factors linked to the allocation of teachers, and offers policy recommendations in order to create a more equitable teacher distribution, which may also be more efficient.

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Many pregnant women face financial barriers to accessing safe delivery services, including high costs associated with transportation to a health facility and materials needed for a safe delivery. In Zambia, researchers are piloting a set of home-based and village savings group interventions focused on empowering pregnant women to save in order to better access their preferred safe delivery services.

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Do low levels of trust limit the spread of ideas and knowledge among small-scale firms in African cities? A new study provides micro-level descriptive evidence on the spatial patterns of economic activity among small business owners in one of the fastest-developing cities in southern Africa: Lusaka, Zambia. Innovations for Poverty Action worked with researchers to collect new survey data to investigate the relation between knowledge sharing, trust, and business agglomeration within the city.

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In sub-Saharan Africa, young girls drop out of school at higher rates than boys. A large portion of drop outs occur between primary and secondary school, when families in most countries have to start paying fees for their children to continue attending school. In Zambia, researchers designed and evaluated the impact of a training that taught adolescent girls non-cognitive skills to negotiate health and educational decisions with authority figures in their lives.

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Inadequate nutrition during the earliest years of life can cause stunting and contribute to long-term developmental consequences that can affect future productivity and well-being. In Zambia, an IPA research team found that providing parents with full-sized growth charts, which included information about nutrition and were placed on the walls inside homes, reduced stunting rates among malnourished children by 22 percentage points.

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Sustainable growth requires the management of scarce natural resources, such as water. Although policymakers have put in place pricing structures meant to discourage wasteful water use, a number of barriers may prevent customers from effectively curbing water wastage. Researchers are working with Innovations for Poverty Action and a water company in Zambia to evaluate whether improved information and incentives can help households manage their water usage.

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Increasing the adoption rates of female-initiated methods of contraception may help fill an unmet demand for family planning and reduce rates of HIV infection in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Zambia, researchers are measuring how an interpersonal communication intervention impacts knowledge, acceptability, use of condoms and uptake of female condoms in the context of a mass distribution and marketing campaign for the new Maximum Diva Woman’s Condom.

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Informational campaigns and price subsidies are common ways to increase the use of health products in developing countries, but little is known about the effect of combining these tools. In Zambia, researchers investigated whether households’ demand for chlorine at varying subsidy levels was dependent on their knowledge of the product. They found that providing additional information about chlorine significantly increased the impact of price subsidies on demand for the product.

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Many climate change programs that target small-scale farmers seek to change farmers’ agricultural practices, whether to sequester additional carbon or to improve climate resiliency. Farmers are often hesitant to adopt new practices as they often entail high upfront costs. Climate change programs therefore generally provide inputs or incentives for adopting and complying with the program’s objectives.

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In the absence of formal credit markets, many farming households engage in costly coping strategies to make ends meet between harvests, including reduced food consumption, informal borrowing and short-term work for other farms. In Zambia, researchers examined the impact of access to seasonal credit on the wellbeing of farming households as well as agricultural output.

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Despite an increased international interest in child development, representative data on child development is still remarkably scarce, particularly from Sub-Saharan Africa.

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