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This report covers some highlights of IPA’s 2019-2020 accomplishments, which were made possible by the world-class researchers, organizations, and funders we are proud to call our partners.
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Annual Report
Date:
October 30, 2020
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Visit our Strategic Ambition Website Today, IPA’s vision remains the same as always: a world with more evidence and less poverty. To achieve this vision, our last strategic plan emphasized promoting the adoption and scale-up of effective solutions. Since 2012, we have continued growing the body of evidence and contributed to the adoption of evidence-based programs, improving hundreds of millions of lives.  Yet we have learned that promoting an effective solution alone is not enough for evidence to be used systematically. Our strategic ambition through 2025 emphasizes the need for iterative learning about what works (and doesn’t work!), and why, and the need to equip decision-makers to use evidence, by building deep partnerships, engaging decision-makers throughout the research process, and helping them develop learning agendas adapted to their needs. We hope you will join us in this ambition, as we continue to build a world with more evidence and less poverty.
Type:
Annual Report
Date:
December 11, 2018
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Humanitarian crises affect over 200 million people globally and exact a large toll on population mental health. We assessed the impact of an economic transfer program on the mental health of internally displaced persons and host populations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We conducted a randomised trial among vulnerable households residing in 25 villages in North Kivu Province, DRC, where a large United Nations program responds to population displacement by providing economic transfers in the form of vouchers for essential household items (EHI). Households that were in need of assistance but outside the program’s standard eligibility criteria were randomly assigned (1:1) to a “voucher” or to “no intervention”. Households in the voucher group received US$50-92 worth of vouchers to use at a fair where EHI, such as blankets, clothes, buckets, and pans, were sold. The head woman of each household was interviewed just before the fair, six weeks and one year after the fair. T...
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Working Paper
Date:
October 14, 2021
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We implemented a randomised controlled trial study to measure the impact of one-on-one engagement with local religious leadership on the compliance of protocols at their mosque. Our messaging was a combination of religious appeal and public health guidelines that were interactive, involving frequent elicitation of the respondents’ reactions and agreement, as well as asking them to commit to action. Our study is different from previous strategies of COVID-19 containment as it does not rely on mass messaging but rather focuses on one-on-one engagement with focal community leaders. It aims to improve the implementation and communication of the 20-point plan that was agreed between the government and religious clergy to contain the spread of COVID-19. However, it is not novel in its approach as it is similar to previous interventions like the polio vaccination drive that disseminates knowledge and engages at the community level. Thus, the results from our study can provide valuable insight...
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Brief
Date:
October 07, 2021
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Mobile financial services have become the main channel of financial inclusion, especially in low-income countries. However, consumer protection failures in the sector remain common. In Uganda, researchers partnered with the Uganda Communications Commission to conduct a phone-based survey among 1,000 users of mobile financial services to inquire about their experiences. In addition, they are leveraging access to mobile network operators’ customer care logs to test and implement new tools for analyzing complaints and resolving disputes. This final report summarizes the key findings and recommendations from IPA's work with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) analyzing consumer complaints records. A report summarizing the findings from the consumer survey can be found here.
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Report
Date:
September 29, 2021
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IPA’s Peace & Recovery Program (P&R) supports field experiments and related research in several broad areas: Reducing violence and promoting peace Reducing “fragility” (i.e. fostering state capacity) Preventing, coping with, and recovering from crises, focusing on conflict but including non-conflict humanitarian crises such as COVID-19 This document covers the aims, core themes, research questions, and focus countries for our competitive research fund, supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), and the Open Society Foundations (OSF). Please send all inquiries to peace@poverty-action.org
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Report
Date:
September 29, 2021
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Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) around the world have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Women-led businesses have suffered disproportionately from the slowing pace of business activity. A gender-intentional approach to short-term mitigation and long-term recovery could address some of the gender-specific dimensions of COVID-related shocks and protect gains made on gender equality in recent years. In this brief, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) has compiled key policy-relevant findings for the short- and long-term recovery from the COVID-19 crisis of women-led businesses in low- and middle-income countries. These insights may help inform the design of programs and policies to support women-led businesses in the context of the current pandemic and beyond.
Type:
Brief
Date:
September 27, 2021
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This document provides application instructions for the Peace & Recovery (P&R) Program’s call for proposals. Applicants are asked to use the following templates when submitting their applications: Template for Pilot and Full Study Proposals Template for Exploratory Grant Proposals Budget Template (to be used for both Pilot/Full Study and Exploratory Grant Proposals) For more information about the request for proposals and P&R Program, read the Guiding Principles and Funding Priorities, and visit the P&R Competitive Fund page.
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Report
Date:
September 27, 2021
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A central challenge to telephone surveys is low response rates. This is particularly true for random digit dial (RDD) surveys, which have especially low response rates. For researchers designing RDD survey protocols, there is a clear tradeoff between effort and composition, where surveys can achieve a higher response rate by calling fewer numbers repeatedly or by calling more numbers less intensively. This brief explores this tradeoff by measuring the effects of (i) repeated attempts per case, and (ii) rescheduling a call, on completion rates and sample composition. Using data from nine low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), we find that repeated and rescheduled attempts result in lower completion rates than new attempts, on average. However, the respondents who complete the survey in later attempts or after rescheduling have statistically significant differences in observable characteristics. This suggests that more call attempts may be needed to adequately represent the respondent...
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Phone Survey Methods Resource
Date:
September 27, 2021
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The COVID-19 pandemic forced educators and students worldwide to rapidly shift to distance learning. As a result, governments, school systems, and educators worked to provide continuity in learning and services accessed through schools—such as school feeding programs—while trying to reconcile persistent equity gaps in access to technology and material and social resources. To date, global educational research has largely focused on how existing disparities and the social and economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 have undermined children’s learning. Much less data exist on how teachers fared during distance learning and the return to in-person schooling. This brief leverages an ongoing longitudinal study on children, parents, and teachers in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. Researchers conducted two rounds of phone surveys with 514 primary-school teachers from public and private schools to measure the pandemic’s repercussions on both children’s education and teacher well-being. Da...
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Brief
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September 23, 2021
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The expansion of digital credit in recent years creates an urgent need to monitor the digital credit market to develop policies to improve product suitability and responsible lending. In Kenya, this expansion over the past five years has increased access to credit but also led to new consumer risks. The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) and IPA audited loan data from Kenya’s leading digital credit providers to inform the development of consumer protection policy strategies for the tens of millions of Kenyans who use digital credit products.
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Report
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September 23, 2021
Español
A lo largo de la última década, cerca de 5.1 millones de venezolanos han abandonado su país. Colombia ha sido el mayor receptor de estos migrantes: a junio del 2020 el Gobierno Colombiano identificó cerca de 1.74 millones de venezolanos al interior de sus fronteras, de los cuales aproximadamente 986 mil son personas indocumentadas. La composición de esta población tiene características socioeconómicas diversas, aunque destaca que el grueso de los migrantes son personas en condición de trabajar, que buscan conseguir ingresos para ellos y sus familias. La crisis social desatada por la pandemia del COVID-19 ha agravado la condición de vulnerabilidad de los migrantes venezolanos. ¿Qué mecanismos favorecen el bienestar de esta población? Este resumen de política pública destaca que las redes de migrantes y la posibilidad de acceder a un permiso de permanencia (PEP-RAMV) facilitan el proceso migratorio en Colombia, permitiendo una mayor integración social y económica de la población migrante...
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Brief
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September 21, 2021
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The reintegration of former members of violent extremist groups is a pressing policy challenge. Governments and policymakers often have to change minds among reticent populations and shift perceived community norms in order to pave the way for peaceful reintegration. How can they do so on a mass scale? Previous research shows that messages from trusted authorities can be effective in creating attitude change and shifting perceptions of social norms. In this study, we test whether messages from religious leaders—trusted authorities in many communities worldwide—can change minds and shift norms around an issue related to conflict resolution: the reintegration of former members of violent extremist groups. Our study takes place in Maiduguri, Nigeria, the birthplace of the violent extremist group Boko Haram. Participants were randomly assigned to listen to either a placebo radio message or to a treatment message from a religious leader emphasizing the importance of forgiveness, announcing...
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Published Paper
Date:
September 09, 2021
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Objectives: Disrespectful and poor treatment of newborns such as unnecessary separation from parents or failure to obtain parental consent for medical procedures occurs at health facilities across contexts, but little research has investigated the prevalence, risk factors, or associated outcomes. This study examined these experiences and associations with healthcare satisfaction, use, and breastfeeding. Design: Prospective cohort study Setting: Health facilities in Nairobi and Kiambu counties in Kenya Participants: Data were collected from women who delivered in health facilities between September 2019 and January 2020. The sample included 1,014 women surveyed at baseline and at least one follow-up at 2-4 or 10 weeks postpartum. Primary and secondary outcome measures: 1) Outcomes related to satisfaction with care and care utilization, 2) Continuation of post-discharge newborn care practices such as breastfeeding. Results: 17.6% of women reported being separated from their newborns at t...
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Published Paper
Date:
September 05, 2021
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A randomized-trial of community-level mask promotion in rural Bangladesh during COVID-19 shows that the intervention tripled mask usage and reduced symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections, demonstrating that promoting community mask-wearing can improve public health.
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Working Paper
Date:
September 01, 2021
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El uso de fuerzas militares para tareas de seguridad pública se ha convertido en un enfoque común para combatir el crimen y la inseguridad. Los promotores de estas políticas de "mano dura" las consideran necesarias para controlar el crimen, mientras que los detractores afirman que podrían violentar los derechos humanos. En Cali, Colombia, los investigadores llevaron a cabo una evaluación aleatoria de un programa de policía militar llamado “Plan Fortaleza” para medir rigurosamente los impactos de la policía militar en las tasas de criminalidad y los derechos humanos. Descubrieron que el programa Plan Fortaleza de patrullas militares intensivas y recurrentes en los puntos conflictivos del crimen redujo significativamente la prevalencia objetiva del crimen, pero solo en los días y horas en que los soldados estaban físicamente presentes en las calles. El programa no redujo los reportes de los ciudadanos sobre victimización por delitos ni mejoró las percepciones subjetivas de seg...
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Brief
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August 09, 2021
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La evidencia sugiere que las habilidades socioemocionales, como la empatía y la regulación emocional, juegan un papel importante a lo largo de la vida de una persona, pero existe poca evidencia sobre el impacto de enseñar estas habilidades a niños y niñas muy pequeños. En Colombia, las investigadoras están evaluando el impacto de un currículo con enfoque socio emocional para la primera infancia en la empatía, inclusión, compasión, resolución de problemas, pensamiento crítico, colaboración, regulación emocional, generosidad, defensa y cuidado de los demás.
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Brief
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August 09, 2021
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In April 2020, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Digital Transformation (MENTD) of Togo launched the Novissi cash transfer scheme. An unconditional cash transfer (UCT) to assist informal workers whose livelihoods have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, Novissi is a fully digital social assistance program. As of March 2021, Novissi has reached 819, 972 beneficiaries and disbursed approximately US$23.9 million (13,308,224,040 FCFA). This case study details the design process for the program, and its implementation during the coronavirus pandemic, which can interest leaders of social assistance programs in other contexts. It also highlights lessons learned on the use of mobile money to support fully digital social assistance.
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Brief
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August 04, 2021
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The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately threatens vulnerable populations, including women and especially pregnant and post-partum women. Early estimates suggest that maternal and child deaths could increase by 8.7-38.6% and 9.8-44.7%, respectively, across low and middle-income countries (LMIC) due to disruptions in healthcare access and food insecurity. A global systematic review of impacts on maternal health found evidence of disruptions to healthcare services, reduced use of antenatal care, decreased access to family planning, and increased stress, anxiety, and depression related in part to isolation and fear of COVID-19 infection.3 Approximately one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, there continues to be a lack of information on the social, economic, and health impacts of the pandemic on pregnant and post-partum women and their infants, particularly from LMICs. Prior to the pandemic, Kenya, in particular, reported one of the highest rates of maternal and neonatal mortality in the wo...
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Brief
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August 02, 2021
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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to steep drops in employment, income, and access to markets, pushing tens of millions of people in low- and middle-income countries into poverty. Social protection programming has emerged as a critical response to the social and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these programs are social assistance measures, which provide benefits to individuals even if they have not previously paid contributions into the program. Before the pandemic, cash-based social assistance has been shown to successfully reduce poverty and enhance wellbeing along a number of dimensions, across many different countries. But what is known about the extent to which cash transfers have mitigated the worst social, economic, and health impacts of the pandemic? And who has benefitted the most from such assistance? This review collates the current evidence on cash during the pandemic across a range of outcomes including food security and nutrition, livelihood support, health...
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Brief
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July 29, 2021

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