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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.
Type:
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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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
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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
Spanish
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
Date:
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
Date:
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
Date:
July 29, 2021
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In a collective effort bringing together 15 studies, researchers from over 30 institutions surveyed over 20,000 individuals between June 2020 and January 2021 on questions regarding respondents’ vaccine acceptance and hesitancy and their most trusted sources for vaccination advice. During some surveys, results from COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials had yet to be announced, and during later surveys, governments had started approving vaccines for use. The fast-moving nature of COVID-19 information may change people’s perceptions about vaccines by the time they are widely available in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Over the past six months, the body of evidence demonstrating the safety and efficacy of available COVID-19 vaccines, which have been given to millions of people, has become clearer. At the same time, severe, but rare, side effects may have undermined public confidence.
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Type:
Brief
Date:
July 19, 2021
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Widespread acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines is crucial for achieving sufficient immunization coverage to end the global pandemic, yet few studies have investigated COVID-19 vaccination attitudes in lower-income countries, where large-scale vaccination is just beginning. We analyze COVID-19 vaccine acceptance across 15 survey samples covering 10 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Asia, Africa and South America, Russia (an upper-middle-income country) and the United States, including a total of 44,260 individuals. We find considerably higher willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine in our LMIC samples (mean 80.3%; median 78%; range 30.1 percentage points) compared with the United States (mean 64.6%) and Russia (mean 30.4%). Vaccine acceptance in LMICs is primarily explained by an interest in personal protection against COVID-19, while concern about side effects is the most common reason for hesitancy. Health workers are the most trusted sources of guidance about COVID-19 vaccines....
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Published Paper
Date:
July 16, 2021
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Over the last five years, there has been increasing interest from global stakeholders in the relationship between cash transfers and gender-based violence, and in particular, intimate partner violence (IPV). Interest has grown both within the development and humanitarian spaces, although empirical research is mainly concentrated in the former. A mixed-method review paper published in 2018 found that, across 22 quantitative or qualitative studies in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the majority (73%) showed that cash decreased IPV; however, two studies showed mixed effects, and several others showed heterogeneous impacts (Buller et al. 2018). A more recent meta-analysis of 14 experimental and quasiexperimental cash transfer studies found average decreases in physical/sexual IPV (4 percentage points (pp)), emotional IPV (2 pp), and controlling behaviors (4 pp) (Baranov et al. 2021). A feature of this literature is the high representation of evaluations from Latin America, primar...
Type:
Report
Date:
July 07, 2021
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We study a simple savings scheme that allows workers to defer receipt of part of their wages for three months at zero interest. The scheme significantly increases savings during the deferral period, leading to higher post-disbursement spending on lumpy expenditures. Two years later, after two additional rounds of the savings scheme, we find that treated workers have made permanent improvements to their homes. The popularity of the scheme suggests a lack of good alternative savings options, and analysis of a follow-up experiment shows that demand for the scheme is also due to the scheme’s ability to address self-control issues.
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Working Paper
Date:
July 01, 2021
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Mass media reaches a large and growing share of the population in developing countries, but can it be used to tackle poverty and change behaviors, such as the adoption of modern contraception? Given the low marginal costs of mass media campaigns, even small effects could be highly cost-effective. IPA partnered with researchers and Development Media International to evaluate the impact and cost-effectiveness of an intensive, 2.5-year mass media radio campaign in Burkina Faso that promoted family planning and aimed to dispel myths and misinformation about modern contraception.
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Brief
Date:
June 30, 2021
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The COVID 19 pandemic and the associated social and economic downturn are undermining children's educational and developmental outcomes, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Leveraging an on-going longitudinal study, researchers in Ghana conducted phone surveys and other research activities to measure the pandemic’s repercussions on children’s education and broader developmental outcomes. On average, private school students and students with high socioeconomic status had higher test scores at the end of the school closure period compared with their public- school counterparts, even when controlling of their previous scores. Additionally, 72 percent of public school children missed daily lunches that are received by the Ghana School Feeding Program and 30 percent of surveyed children claimed they experienced hunger during school closures.
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Brief
Date:
June 29, 2021
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Education in the 21st century has taken a new dimension with emphasis on modernization and technology. Over the last few years, the Government of Ghana has aimed to improve education sector performance through its education reform programmes to strengthen service delivery and ensure that well-intentioned policy goals translate into improved learning outcomes and future workforce development. Improving access and quality of education in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic has made these efforts more challenging. The Ministry of Education has therefore aimed to identify ways to ensure education targets are achievable and sustainable through innovations and effective quality control systems for better planning, accountability, teaching, and learning. The Evidence Summit, which forms part of the National Education Week (NEW), will bring together policymakers, researchers, and practitioners to: a) share rigorous evidence that has been collected about innovative approaches to improving access to...
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Report
Date:
June 26, 2021
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Childhood immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions to date, preventing an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year and severe morbidity for millions more children from devastating diseases such as polio and the hepatitis B virus. Although there have been substantial gains in childhood immunization globally, coverage still lags in many countries, leaving millions vulnerable to disease. A particular challenge is on the demand side—low acceptance and uptake despite availability of vaccine supplies and services. Demand-side interventions target the barriers to acceptance and uptake, such as lack of awareness about the schedule and benefits, low prioritization of immunization, financial obstacles, or distrust in immunization. These interventions will only move the needle in the context of a functioning vaccine supply chain and effective health services. In this brief, Innovations for Poverty Action’s Path-to-Scale Research team has compiled...
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Brief
Date:
June 24, 2021
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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, increasingly, these studies are striving to test broader hypotheses about how programs work (i.e. what are the key program components driving change) and to generate insights into human behavior (i.e. why individuals may be motivated to act in certain ways). This evidence review, prepared by staff at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) ) for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), 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 Governan...
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Type:
Report
Date:
June 23, 2021
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Instead of using long questionnaires administered in person, researchers are increasingly turning to phone surveys, which require shorter instruments but can be administered over multiple, shorter interviews. A limitation of high-frequency phone surveys is study attrition, where individuals enrolled in a baseline survey may not be reachable or willing to complete follow-up interviews. This brief shares some evidence on phone survey attrition calculated from existing data collected in the early 2010s in Tanzania and Senegal. In these cases, the researchers distributed devices to respondents, ensuring the best-known conditions for minimizing attrition. In addition to presenting attrition rates calculated over multiple survey waves, the brief explores whether there is differential attrition by respondent type, examining changes to the sample composition. Differential attrition can lead to bias in the parameters that researchers are trying to estimate. The results show that attrition was...
Type:
Phone Survey Methods Resource
Date:
May 21, 2021
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For the public health sector, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines presents new challenges—a rapid timeline, targeting of adults, and, given limited initial supply, prioritization of high-risk populations. Research on these challenges in the context of childhood immunization has shed light on the barriers and enablers to vaccination, as well as effective demand-generation strategies to improve acceptance and uptake. While new information will emerge over time, evidence from decades of global efforts to immunize children offers important lessons to inform COVID-19 vaccination rollouts. In this brief, Innovations for Poverty Action’s Path-to-Scale Research team has compiled evidence from demand-side interventions to increase vaccination in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to help inform COVID-19 vaccination programming.
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Brief
Date:
May 20, 2021

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