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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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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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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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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Digital credit in Kenya has become a tool for households and small businesses to manage their day-to-day expenses, but concerns have been raised regarding rising household debt levels and defaults.  In this project, IPA will collaborate with the Digital Lenders Association of Kenya (DLAK) to analyze credit data with a new information sharing system and measure the system’s effects on issues such as multiple lending, loan screening, and defaults.

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Increasing access to safe water is important for reducing child morbidity and mortality. Mass distribution of water treatment products can considerably increase access but it is expensive, especially if some of the recipients do not end up using the subsidized products.

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Previous research has shown that people living in poverty are more likely to experience psychological constraints, such as lower aspirations, goals, and beliefs about their ability to act effectively, which partly arise from the difficulties of living in extreme poverty.

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Globally, many rural farmers lack access to effective savings and storage devices. This issue is particularly acute for rural farmers who receive income as a lump sum at harvest but have ongoing expenditures throughout the year. Researchers worked with existing savings clubs in Kenya to study the effect of two interventions on savings: the provision of communal crop storage devices and the provision of savings accounts earmarked for farm purchases.

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Many poor women around the world rely on sexual partners for the purpose of financial assistance, particularly when faced with financial setbacks. Providing these women with appropriate financial tools has the potential to reduce transactional sex as a coping strategy and reduce exposure to sexually transmitted infections.

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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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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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Providing cash grants to low-income households without any strings attached has been proven to have various benefits on the lives of those who receive the transfers, but less is known about how this sudden influx of income affects the local economy and people living nearby. In western Kenya, researchers evaluated the impact of unconditional cash transfers, provided by the organization GiveDirectly, on household well-being and local economic activity.

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In Sub-Saharan Africa, farmers are often paid low prices for their produce, yet customers often pay high prices for staple foods. There are multiple potential explanations for this phenomenon, one of which is that traders may hold market power and collude, leading to higher food prices than there would be if those traders offered competing prices.

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Citizen trust and participation in the political system are necessary for stable democratic regimes. During the 2013 National Elections in Kenya, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) sent text messages to approximately two million registered voters to promote public interest and knowledge and to raise voter turnout. Researchers found that the text message campaign increased voter turnout but decreased trust in the electoral commission.

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Poor nutrition and exposure to fecal contamination are associated with diarrhea and growth faltering, and both have long-term consequences for child health and development. In Kenya, researchers partnered with IPA to conduct a large-scale randomized evaluation of the impacts of water, sanitation, handwashing, and nutrition interventions delivered alone and in combination.

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