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.

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The adoption of agricultural practices that can increase yields, like fertilizer application, remains low among smallholder farmers in many low- and middle-income contexts. While traditional agricultural extension aims to ensure farmers receive and act upon timely information to improve their agricultural yields, these efforts are often costly and time-consuming.

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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.

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Addressing high rates of gender-based violence experienced by girls is a policy goal in many developing countries, in particular in post-conflict settings such as Liberia where evidence suggests women commonly experience physical and/or sexual violence. IPA partnered with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Population Council and the World Bank’s Development Research Group to evaluate the Girl Empower program in Liberia.

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Intrapartum and postpartum care are essential to the health and well-being of mothers, infants, and families. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, resources have shifted away from providing preventative services for mothers and newborns.

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Burkina Faso has a strong history of peaceful coexistence among ethnic and religious groups, but in recent years has seen a rise of organized violence by Islamic extremists and a fracturing of social cohesion, particularly in rural areas. This pilot study assesses the effectiveness of a school-based peace and dialogue curriculum to strengthen social trust, resolve disputes non-violently, discourage radicalization, and rebuild communal norms of tolerance among youth.

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More than 60 percent of global workers are employed in the informal sector, facing more challenges and risks than their formal sector counterparts. While governments and organizations have implemented programs to encourage formalization, progress is slower than hoped in Colombia. Researchers studied whether access to information promoted formalization in a low-income community.

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Agricultural product exports from developing countries usually necessitate a measure of quality upgrading for products to be competitive in foreign markets. While many interventions focused on product quality upgrading traditionally targeted a single aspect of a value chain, actually achieving higher quality could require interventions at multiple points along the process.

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Maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality are persistent challenges despite increasing rates of deliveries within health care facilities over the last decade. Especially in low-resource contexts, improving infrastructure in facilities through access to reliable electricity may enable healthcare workers to provide higher-quality obstetric and newborn care.

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Ugandan women in the IPA WINGS program

Poverty is a staggering problem, with 46 percent of the world’s population living on less than 5.50 USD per day. Research shows that individuals experiencing poverty can leverage investments to increase their self-employment activities and improve their livelihoods  but often lack access to credit and insurance, thereby limiting their potential to benefit from investment opportunities.

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As early childhood is an extremely important period for long-term cognitive and non-cognitive development, incorporating promising pedagogical practices in preschools may be an effective way to improve learning outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. In Peru, researchers evaluated the impact of a tailored inquiry- and problem-based learning approach on preschoolers’ performance in math.

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The Covid-19 pandemic led to unprecedented extended school closures around the globe. Ghana’s schools were closed from March 2020 through January 2021. Remote learning was introduced to ensure children continue learning while schools were closed. Equitable access to education is difficult to maintain during remote learning and may increase inequalities by child gender and household backgrounds.

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The transaction costs associated with opening, maintaining, and withdrawing funds may be a barrier to using formal savings accounts for low-income individuals. In partnership with Family Bank of Kenya, researchers evaluated the impact of providing free ATM card to couples on savings account use.

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Remittances are one of the largest sources of financial flows to low- and middle-income countries, and researchers and decision-makers are interested in ways to increase their development impact. One promising approach is enabling migrants to label the remittances that they send home for a specific purpose, such as education or business activities.

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For new democracies and societies emerging from conflict, effective systems of dispute resolution are essential to maintaining a lasting peace and preventing violence. In Liberia, researchers examined the short and long-term impacts of introducing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) trainings on the rate at which community members resolved property disputes and the incidence of violence related to those disputes.

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Social Media apps on a phone - via dole777 on Unsplash

As financial services digitize, more consumers are bringing their experiences online as well, using social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to raise concerns and issues with specific products or services. Social media data could shed new light into the issues that affect digital consumers and how providers are responding to these complaints.

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Community policing, which aims to create opportunities for positive, mutually respectful interactions between civilians and the police, may increase citizen trust and enhance the ability of police to enforce the law, but little evidence has existed on this model outside of the US and other developed countries.

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A child is given deworming medicine in Kenya

Intestinal helminths—including hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and schistosomiasis—infect more than one in four people worldwide. Researchers evaluated the short-run impacts of a mass school-based deworming program in western Kenya, and found that deworming substantially improved health and school participation of treated children, as well as of untreated children in treatment schools and children in neighboring schools.

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Improving access to family planning in sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to help women and couples achieve their desired family size, reduce high-risk pregnancies, and improve child health and growth. In Malawi, Innovations for Poverty Action worked with researchers to measure how an increase in access to family planning—through information, free transportation, and reimbursements for family planning services—impacted women’s fertility, health, and well-being.

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To what extent do cash transfers cushion the blow to poor families during hard times? Taking advantage of a pre-existing large-scale evaluation of a universal basic income project in Kenya, researchers measured how different types of cash transfers impact recipients’ income, reported well-being, food security, mental health, and social interaction in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying agricultural seasonality.

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