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The Cox’s Bazar Panel Survey (CBPS) tracks representative samples of Rohingya refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar district in southern Bangladesh. A phone-based follow-up survey from April 2020 reveals that, despite widespread knowledge of COVID-19, attendance at religious gatherings is high, representing a potentially important pathway for disease spread in refugee camps and host communities in Cox’s Bazar. Even after the imposition of lockdown restrictions in early April, attendance to religious events was still common in refugee camps and host communities alike. Over 75% of men in refugee camps and over 50% of men in host communities reported attending religious services at least once in the week prior to the survey (April 9-16, 2020). Most male respondents who attended religious gatherings did so regularly, for an average of 4.0 days and 2.2 days in the last week for refugees and hosts, respectively. These behaviors are prevalent despite widespread awareness of the sources of COVID-19 trans-mission. When asked about trusted sources of advice on COVID-19, both hosts and refugees identified friends, acquaintances, and community leaders—including religious leaders—as important. In fact, 44% of refugees place their trust in community leaders such as block majhees; putting them in front of other trusted sources of information including family, relatives, and informational campaigns.

In a separate survey of Imams from around Bangladesh, we find considerable willingness to make changes: almost every respondent had adjusted their practices in some way. Still, some important measures remain uncommon, including discouraging attendance of the elderly, removal of the communal prayer mat, and postponing congregational prayer. This may be due to respondents’ subjective assessment of the risk posed by COVID-19. About two-thirds of Imams felt that COVID-19 posed no or low risk to their communities. Given the ongoing attendance of religious gatherings and the trust placed in religious leaders, policies should be targeted towards decreasing prayer gathering sizes, reducing frequency of prayer attendance, and disseminating public health and social distancing advice through a key trusted source of information: Imams and religious leaders themselves.

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Brief
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July 29, 2020
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We study the prevalence of COVID‐19 symptoms in refugee and host communities and their correlates with current and pre‐COVID‐19 living conditions. We administered a phone‐based survey to a sample of 909 households in Cox’s Bazar which was drawn from a household panel representative of Rohingya refugees and the host population. We conducted a symptoms checklist to assess COVID‐19 risk based on the WHO guidelines. We included questions covering returning migration, employment, and food security. We asked additional questions on health knowledge and behaviors to a random subsample (n=460). 24.6% of camp residents and 13.4% of those in host communities report at least one common symptom of COVID‐19. Among those seeking treatment, a plurality did so at a pharmacy (42.3% in camps, 69.6% in host communities). While most respondents report good respiratory hygiene, between 76.7% (camps) and 52.2% (host community) had attended a communal prayer in the previous week. Another 47.4% (camps) 34.4% (host community) had attended a non‐religious social gathering. The presence of returning migrants, respondent mobility, and food insecurity strongly predict COVID‐19 symptoms. Conclusion. COVID‐19 symptoms are highly prevalent in Cox’s Bazar, especially in refugee camps. Attendance at religious and social events threatens efforts to contain the spread of the disease. Pharmacies and religious leaders are promising outlets to disseminate life‐saving information.

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Working Paper
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May 19, 2020
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Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh has received multiple waves of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar since the 1970s, but late 2017 saw the largest and fastest refugee influx in Bangladesh’s history. Between August 2017 and December 2018, 745,000 Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, following an outbreak of violence in Rakhine State. As of December 31, 2019, Teknaf and Ukhia sub-districts host an estimated 854,704 stateless Rohingya refugees, almost all of whom live in densely populated camps (UNHCR 2019).

Researchers from Yale University, the World Bank, and the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) initiative started the Cox’s Bazar Panel Survey (CBPS) in order to provide accurate data to humanitarian and government stakeholders involved in the response to the influx of refugees. The survey is an in-depth household survey covering 5,020 households living in both refugee camps and host communities. This quantitative data collection is complemented with qualitative interviews with adolescents and their caregivers.

In line with the 2018 Global Compact for Refugees commitment to promote economic opportunities, decent work, and skills training for both host community members and refugees, this brief presents a set of stylized facts on the socioeconomic status of Rohingya refugees in 2019 and in the year preceding the latest outbreak of violence.

The aim is to better understand the ways in which the challenges faced by Rohingya refugees while they were living in Myanmar are likely to affect their ability—and the ability of future generations of Rohingya—to attain a better living standard in their host communities, with a view to informing policy and programming.

Drawing from a survey on retrospective employment and labor income from the first round of panel data in 2019, we compare three groups: the population of Myanmar, Rohingya people who crossed the border into Bangladesh in 2017, and those who left Myanmar prior to 2017 and are currently living in Cox’s Bazar.

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April 30, 2020
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IPA's Peace & Recovery Program is pleased to announce that it is now accepting off-cycle proposals, capped at $50,000, for time-sensitive research projects and additions to research projects that study or support the COVID-19 response. 

We have two priorities for our COVID-19 off-cycle funding. To the degree possible, successful proposals will address both. 

  1. To produce information that can directly inform the humanitarian response to COVID-19 
  2. To produce generalizable knowledge that contributes academic literature on resilience, response, and recovery, in line with the goals and methods outlined in our Guiding Principles and Funding Priorities   

Please direct all questions to peace@poverty-action.org.   

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April 02, 2020
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This brief draws on mixed-methods data collected in 2019 as part of the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) programme—a unique longitudinal mixed-methods research and impact evaluation study that is focusing on what works to support the development of adolescents’ capabilities during the second decade of life (10–19 years) (GAGE consortium, 2019 forthcoming). In Cox’s Bazar, GAGE partnered with researchers from Yale University and the World Bank to implement the Cox’s Bazar Panel Survey (CBPS) in order to provide accurate data to humanitarian and government stakeholders involved in the response to the influx of refugees.

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Brief
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December 30, 2019
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The work of Nobel Laureates Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer has centered around the use of randomized control trials to help solve development problems. To date, however, few field experiments have been undertaken to evaluate the effects of humanitarian assistance. The reasons may lie in challenges related to logistics, fragility, security and ethics that often loom large in humanitarian settings. Yet every year, billions of dollars are spent on humanitarian aid, and policymakers are in need of rigorous evidence. In this paper, we reflect on the opportunities and risks of running experiments in humanitarian settings, and provide, as illustration, insights from our experiences with recent field experiments of large-scale humanitarian aid programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Published Paper
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December 01, 2019

La exposición al conflicto y otras experiencias traumáticas afectan negativamente el capital económico, social y humano de los individuos y sus comunidades. El emprendimiento y los programas de habilidades para los negocios han sido comúnmente adoptados para promover la inclusión socioeconómica en contextos frágiles. Sin embargo, la mayoría de estos programas le prestan muy poca atención a la motivación y a las barreras internas para aprender y tomar buenas decisiones, lo cual puede ser especialmente cierto para las víctimas del conflicto. Para estas poblaciones, la visualización—que anima a los participantes a simular escenarios en el futuro o adoptar la perspectiva de otros—puede ser una herramienta pedagógica útil para estimular la motivación. Para evaluar la efectividad de esta técnica, los investigadores diseñaron y están evaluando un programa de habilidades blandas que incorpora la visualización para emprendedores que han experimentado violencia u otras circunstancias difíciles en Bogotá, Colombia.

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November 15, 2019
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Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) invita a organizaciones y asociaciones civiles que trabajen con individuos en situación de riesgo expuestos a la violencia a participar en la convocatoria para participar en el proyecto “Construyendo Policías Eficaces, Resilientes y Confiables en México”.

El proyecto “Construyendo Policías Eficaces, Resilientes y Confiables en México” de la Universidad de Yale liderado por el Dr. Rodrigo Canales, tiene por objetivo diseñar y evaluar cómo las fuerzas policiales pueden enfrentar el reto de reducir la violencia, aumentar la legitimidad institucional y confianza en las instituciones, y fortalecer el estado de derecho.

En el marco del proyecto, se realizará una intervención comunitaria en conjunto con la Secretaría de Seguridad Ciudadana de la Ciudad de México. Esta intervención busca atender dinámicas de violencia grupal en territorios específicos para cambiar el comportamiento de individuos en situación de riesgo de ejercer violencia o ser víctima. Una parte fundamental de la estrategia se basa en el trabajo comunitario con las personas previamente identificadas por IPA como personas que se encuentran en mayor riesgo de cometer un acto de violencia o ser víctima.

La intervención se realizará de noviembre de 2019 a mayo de 2020 (con posibilidad de extensión) en aproximadamente 47 colonias en una zona vulnerable al poniente de la Ciudad de México y el número de individuos a intervenir oscila entre las 30 y 40 personas.

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Research Resource
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October 24, 2019
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Recent research suggests giving cash directly to the poor can have a range of benefits for recipients in the first few years, including increased consumption, assets, and food security, but little evidence exists on the long-term effects of cash transfers, particularly as a way to spur entrepreneurship and increase earnings. To shed light on this question, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation in Uganda of a government self-employment program that provided cash grants of about $400 per person to groups of young adults to start a skilled trade. An IPA research team followed up after two, four, and nine years—providing some of the longest-term rigorous evidence on how start-up cash grants impact measures of poverty.

Key Findings:

»  Four years after grants were distributed, recipients were more likely to be practicing a skilled trade and earning 38 percent more than their peers who hadn’t received grants. The boost in earnings seemed to be driven by recipients’ work in skilled trades.

»  Nine years after the cash grants were disbursed, most of the business and earning gains had dissipated, but grant recipients still had more household assets and were more likely to be practicing a skilled trade.

»  The fade out of business and earnings effects was driven by changes in the comparison group: those who hadn’t received the grants had started working, and earning, a lot more—in fact, they had caught up to the grant recipients in hours worked and income.

»  The grant had some positive impacts on health outcomes, but only for the children of women who had received the grant: children of grant-recipient mothers displayed better physical skills such has walking and talking, relative to male-recipients and to the comparison group.

»  In sum, start-up grants served the purpose of providing better jobs and businesses—but they did not offer sustained gains in earnings as earlier ndings suggested.

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September 17, 2019
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Las fuerzas policiales urbanas tienden a enfocar sus esfuerzos en las áreas con tasas de crimen más altas. Sin embargo, incrementar la presencia estatal en los sitios más inseguros puede simplemente desplazar el crimen a otras áreas, dejando las tasas de crimen agregadas iguales a como estaban en un principio. En Bogotá, Colombia, un grupo de investigadores, en alianza con la Alcaldía de la ciudad, decidieron medir el impacto de tres estrategias sobre la reducción del crimen y su desplazamiento: focalizar la vigilancia policial, hacer mejoras al espacio público y una combinación de ambas estrategias. La evaluación encontró que estas estrategias reducen el crimen en las calles focalizadas en el estudio, pero solo cuando son implementadas al mismo tiempo. Mientras la mayoría de los crímenes, particularmente los delitos contra la propiedad parecen desplazarse a las calles aledañas. Hay evidencia que sugiere que los crímenes violentos, especialmente los homicidios y el abuso sexual, disminuyen en toda la ciudad como resultado de la intervención.

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September 03, 2019
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Lessons from randomized evaluations on managing and preventing crime, violence, and conflict.
 

What are the most promising strategies for reducing crime, violence, and conflict? The past decade has seen a dramatic expansion in the experimental literature designed to help answer this question. Moving beyond evaluations of individual programs, these studies seek to advance our understanding of what drives individuals and groups towards violence and conflict and the levers at our disposal for their reduction.

This evidence review, prepared by staff at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) for the Department for International Development (DFID), offers a broad review of the expansion of this literature and seeks to capture some of the emerging insights from across these studies. The review has been prepared as part of J-PAL and IPA’s Governance, Crime and Conflict Initiative (GCCI), a £12-million investment by DFID launched in 2017 to produce new research on effective policies to promote peace and good governance, reduce crime, and support individuals and communities recovering from conflict.

We reviewed the existing experimental and rigorous quasi-experimental literature for studies that help to answer six questions identified in conversation with DFID staff1:

  1. What does and does not work in policing, including community policing?
  2. What does and does not work in terms of justice provision, including criminal justice and corrections/prisons?
  3. What do RCTs tell us about how to reduce the violent behavior of individuals in high-crime or conflict settings?
  4. What do RCTs tell us about how violent organizations/groups make strategic choices between violent and non-violent action?
  5. What do RCTs tell us about what works in peacebuilding, reconciliation and community-based/alternative dispute resolution?
  6. Does RCT evidence demonstrate that including women in interventions increases stability, conflict resolution, dispute resolution or violence reduction outcomes?

For more information about the research funded through GCCI, see the Governance InitiativeCrime and Violence Initiative, and Peace & Recovery Program webpages.

1 The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department for International Development.

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Report
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July 31, 2019
English

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy non-profit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor. Since our founding in 2002, IPA has worked with over 600 leading academics to conduct over 830 evaluations in 52 countries. Future growth will be concentrated in focus countries, such as Myanmar, where we have local and international staff, established relationships with government, NGOs, and the private sector, and deep knowledge of local issues.

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Brief
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July 08, 2019
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Over the past two decades, sports programs have proliferated as a mode of engaging youth in development projects. Thousands of organizations, millions of participants, and hundreds of millions of dollars are invested in sports-based development programs each year. The underlying belief that sports promote socioemotional skills, improve psychological well-being, and foster traits that boost labor force productivity has provided motivation to expand funding and offerings of sport for development (SFD) programs. We partnered with an international NGO to randomly assign 1200 young adults to a sports and life skills development program. While we do not see evidence of improved psychosocial outcomes or resilience, we do find evidence that the program caused a 0.12 standard deviation increase in labor force participation. Secondary analysis suggests that the effects are strongest among those likely to be most disadvantaged in the labor market.

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Working Paper
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July 01, 2019
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Los grupos armados urbanos—especialmente las bandas criminales—son un obstáculo para el desarrollo económico y la consolidación de entornos pacíficos en muchas ciudades del mundo. Frecuentemente, estos grupos actúan como cuerpos estatales, ejecutando acciones típicamente gubernamentales como la resolución de disputas, la provisión de justicia y seguridad, la prevención del crimen, la regulación de mercados y la recolección de impuestos. En Medellín, Colombia, en alianza con la alcaldía de la ciudad, un grupo de investigadores diseñó una intervención para aumentar la participación del gobierno municipal en la provisión de servicios públicos y evaluar el impacto de ésta sobre la legitimidad del Estado y las bandas criminales.

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Brief
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March 28, 2019
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In Mexico, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our work detailed in this brief promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of people in Mexico.

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Brief
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September 26, 2018

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