Access to electricity can bring significant economic benefits to communities, but in many rural areas extending the electrical grid can be costly, difficult, and unreliable. Decentralized, “off-grid” energy systems such as solar mini-grids may be another effective way to provide energy to communities that do not have access to an electrical grid, but less is known about their impacts, particularly for women.

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As in many developing countries, in Sierra Leone the process of selecting candidates often caters to the elite and lacks direct input from ordinary voters, which raises questions about representation and accountability. In response, researchers designed an evaluation to measure the efficacy of an intervention that informs party executives about the qualifications and policy visions of “aspirants," or potential candidates, during the primary selection stage, as well as which aspirant the local

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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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In countries with conditional cash transfer programs, volunteers or modestly-paid community workers often play a significant role in supporting beneficiaries in complying with the program requirements upon which their cash transfers are conditioned.

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Globally, violence is a leading risk factor for premature death and morbidity for women. In Uganda, more than half of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime. A small but growing body of literature focuses on addressing intimate partner violence (IPV) by leveraging existing social institutions, but few studies have looked at faith-based sources of authority.

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In Pakistan, take-up and use of mobile money accounts has been relatively low despite the fact that mobile money is potentially less expensive, more convenient, and can offer a wider range of financial services than many other payment channels. Researchers aimed to conduct a randomized evaluation investigating the impact of incentivizing mobile account holders to refer their friends or relatives to use mobile money on the take-up and sustained usage of mobile money.

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Women across the world face systemic challenges to their health and safety, including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, forced marriage, and disempowerment within the household. One potential way to counter these issues is through media messaging that is designed to change people’s attitudes and behavior.

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Expanding credit access to small- and medium-sized agricultural producers is an important policy challenge, given the millions of livelihoods affected along its supply chain. Researchers used data on loans to coffee processors across 24 developing countries to study credit and insurance constraints in the coffee sector and assessed whether relationships between lenders and coffee mills could mitigate strategic default.

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Digital loans, through mobile platforms such as Kenya’s M-Pesa, may be a way to increase access to affordable credit. Researchers used a regression discontinuity design to measure the impact of M-Shwari, a short-term savings and loan service run through M-Pesa, on access to credit, resilience, and savings of Kenyan households. Results show M-Shwari increased access to credit from any source.

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Measuring Knowledge and Understanding of the Peace Process in Myanmar

A key step toward designing an inclusive peace process is understanding the knowledge, perceptions, and expectations of the people involved. With this in mind, the Joint Peace Fund, an initiative that supports the peace process in Myanmar with technical, financial, and advisory assistance, is working with IPA and Myanmar Survey Research to gather quantitative and qualitative data on public knowledge and understanding of Myanmar’s peace process.

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The garment industry has expanded women’s employment opportunities in the urban job market in Bangladesh. However, jobs available to women at factories are typically limited to junior positions. This study evaluates the effectiveness of a program that provides female garment workers with skills that lead to promotion to supervisory positions.

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Low-income women disproportionately lack access to credit in developing countries, often because they are less likely to have credit histories, property rights, or formal earnings. Researchers are partnering with a bank and a mobile money operator in the Dominican Republic to evaluate the impact of credit scoring models designed specifically for women on access to credit.

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More than a third of all women of reproductive age in sub-Saharan Africa are anemic. Women from low-income communities involved in fish-smoking may be at increased risk because of inadequate diets, exposure to infectious pathogens, as well as particulate matter and other pollutants through smoke.

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Entrepreneurs in Bogota working with Agruppa

Microenterprises such as produce vendors face disadvantages compared to larger firms in sourcing inventory because they must travel frequently to restock and pay higher costs when doing so. Researchers evaluated Agruppa, a mobile phone-based technology service, which creates virtual buyer groups to buy more cheaply in bulk. The evaluation found that initial demand for the service was high, saving business owners time and expense, and increasing profits on certain staple goods.

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The adoption of mobile technology and mobile internet has expanded rapidly in Kenya in recent years, facilitated by increased access to mobile broadband and the spread of low-cost smartphones and tablets. Researchers are partnering with a leading mobile network operator to investigate how the internet affects financial and economic outcomes, particularly for women.

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Despite major global progress in vaccination coverage, many children and young infants are vaccinated late, leaving them susceptible to life threatening, preventable illnesses. In Ghana, researchers are conducting a cluster randomized evaluation to investigate the impact of mobile-phone based reminders and an incentive system on early vaccination coverage. 

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Evidence from multiple contexts suggests that the Graduation Approach, which provides holistic livelihood support for ultra-poor households, has lasting positive impacts on a range of outcomes. However, graduation programs are relatively expensive because of the intense level of support they offer. The costs pose a challenge for governments that want to implement the approach at scale.

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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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Public insecurity and widespread mistrust of police among citizens is associated with decreased police legitimacy, which has negative consequences for effective policing. While research has identified individual police behaviors that can create more positive interactions with citizens, little is known about how police units can institutionalize justice and fairness into organizational capabilities.

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A student uses the tablet program.

One reason children from disadvantaged backgrounds receive less schooling and join the labor force at younger ages with fewer skills may be that they and their families lack crucial information needed to make the right long run investment decisions regarding their human capital. In Peru, IPA and J-PAL worked with researchers and the Ministry of Education to evaluate at scale two low-cost ways of providing relevant information to help students and their families make more informed decisions.

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