Africa

  • Can Skills Training Programs Increase Employment for Young Women? The Case of Liberia.

    World Bank (2012)

    Original Abstract:

    The Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women (EPAG) project in Liberia consists of six-months of classroom training followed by six-months of placement and support (including micro-enterprise advisory services and internship and job placement assistance). Participants are trained in business development skills, job skills, and life skills, and the program includes a capacity-building component for local partners. The aim is to smooth the transition from the classroom to wage or self-employment. According to midline results from 2012, the program led to a 50% increase in employment among trainees, increased average weekly income by 115%, and significantly increased girls' savings.

    Intervention settings: Mixed.

    Intervention description: Vocational, business development, and life skills classroom and on-the-job training.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Women 16-27 years old with basic literacy and numeracy skills, currently not in school.

    Findings: Employment increased by 50%. Incomes increased by 115%.

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  • Intentions to Participate in Adolescent Training Programs: Evidence from Uganda

    Bandiera et al (2010)

    Original Abstract:

    Almost one-third of the population in developing countries is under age 15. Hence improving the effectiveness of policy interventions that target adolescents might be especially important. We analyze the intention to participate in training programs of adolescent girls in Uganda, a country with perhaps the most skewed age distribution anywhere in the world. The training program we focus on is BRAC's Adolescent Development Program, which emphasizes the provision of life skills, entrepreneurship training, and microfinance. We find that girls who are more likely to benefit from the program are more likely to intend to participate. The program attracts girls who are likely to place a high value on financial independence: single mothers and girls who are alienated from their families. The program attracts girls who are more likely to benefit from training: girls who believe they could be successful entrepreneurs but currently lack the quantitative skills to do so. Reassuringly, girls who are in school full-time are less likely to intend to participate. We also find that the program attracts girls from poorer villages but we find no evidence that poorer girls within each village are more likely to want to participate. Finally, girls from villages who have previously been exposed to NGO projects are less likely to intend to participate.

    Intervention settings: Mixed.

    Intervention description: Group-based unconditional cash transfer.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Men and women 16-35 years old.

    Findings: 80% of beneficiaries use grants for vocational training and business asset purchases. Employment increases by 50% for women and 25% for men. Income increases by 50%.

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  • Tap and Reposition Youth (TRY): Providing Social Support, Savings, and Microcredit Opportunities for Young Women in Areas with High HIV Prevalence

    Erulkar et al (2006)

    Original Abstract:

    The document reports on the Tap and Reposition Youth (TRY) project in Nairobi, Kenya. The project aimed to reduce the vulnerability of out of school adolescent girls and young women, aged 16-22, to HIV infection and other illnesses by improving their livelihood options through microfinance interventions. The document includes a description of the project, an overview of microfinance in Africa, a discussion of the limits of the project's initial microcredit model, an analysis of the project's impact, and recommendations for the way forward.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Microfinance.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Women 16-22 years old, who are out-of-school and live in low-income and slum areas of Nairobi

    Findings: Low repayment and high program dropout.

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  • Vocational Education Voucher Delivery and Labor Market Returns: A Randomized Evaluation Among Kenyan Youth

    Hicks et al (2011)

    Original Abstract:

    This report describes the ongoing Technical and Vocational Vouchers Program (TVVP) in Kenya and provides early results from the intervention. Implementation began in 2008 with the recruitment of approximately 2,160 out-of-school youths (ranging in age from roughly 18 to 30). Study participants were drawn from the Kenya Life Panel Survey, an unusual on-going panel dataset of detailed educational, health, and cognitive information for over 7,000 adolescents in western Kenya. Of the 2,160 youths that applied to the TVVP, a random half were awarded a voucher for vocational training, while the other half served as the control group. Of the voucher winners, a random half were awarded a voucher that could only be used in public (government) institutions, while the other half received a voucher that could be used in either private or public institutions. The project also included a cross-cutting information intervention, which exposed a randomly selected half of all treatment and control individuals to information about the actual returns to vocational education. This report focuses on program take-up, the demand for vocational training and the impacts of the information intervention on institution and course selection, participant attendance, the short-term impacts of training on labor market expectations and outcomes for a representative subset of program participants, and training center characteristics. The report also provides some suggestive evidence on the supply-side impacts of the program.

    Intervention settings: Mixed.

    Intervention description: Awarded voucher for either public (government) institution or private institution. Half of the group was also expsed to information about actual returns to vocational education.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 2,160 men and women aged 18-30 (63% women) who were out of school.

    Findings: Influenced more women to enroll in traditionally male-dominated (and higher-paying) courses of study.

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  • Impact of Farmer Field Schools on Agricultural Productivity and Poverty in East Africa

    Davis and others (2010)

    Original Abstract:

    Farmer field schools (FFSs) are a popular education and extension approach worldwide. Such schools use experiential learning and a group approach to facilitate farmers in making decisions, solving problems, and learning new techniques. However, there is limited or conflicting evidence as to their effect on productivity and poverty, especially in East Africa. This study is unique in that it uses a longitudinal impact evaluation (difference in difference approach) with quasi-experimental methods (propensity score matching and covariate matching) together with qualitative approaches to provide rigorous evidence to policymakers and other stakeholders on an FFS project in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The study provides evidence on participation in FFSs and on the effects of FFSs on various outcomes. The study found that younger farmers who belong to other groups, such as savings and credit groups, tended to participate in field schools. Females made up 50 percent of FFS membership. Reasons for not joining an FFS included lack of time and information. FFSs were shown to be especially beneficial to women, people with low literacy levels, and farmers with medium-size land holdings. FFS participants had significant differences in outcomes with respect to value of crops produced per acre, livestock value gain per capita, and agricultural income per capita. FFSs had a greater impact on crop productivity for those in the middle land area (land poverty) tercile. Participation in FFSs increased income by 61 percent when pooling the three countries. FFSs improved income and productivity overall, but differences were seen at the country level. Participation in FFSs led to increased production, productivity, and income in nearly all cases: Kenya, Tanzania, and at the project level (all three countries combined). The most significant change was seen in Kenya for crops (80 percent increase) and in Tanzania for agricultural income (more than 100 percent increase). A lack of significant increases in Uganda was likely due to Uganda's National Agricultural Advisory Services. When disaggregating by gender, however, female-headed households benefited significantly more than male-headed households in Uganda.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Farmer field schools with 50% female participation.

    Methodology: Difference in differences estimation with propensity score matching.

    Sample: Poor households (50% female-headed) randomly selected, with and without farmer field schools.

    Findings: FFS increased the value of crops grown and agricultural income per capita (61% in the pooled sample), especially among women.

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  • Commitments to Save: A Field Experiment in Rural Malawi

    Bruné, Giné, Goldberg and Yang (2011)

    Original Abstract:

    This paper reports the results of a field experiment that randomly assigned smallholder cash crop farmers formal savings accounts. In collaboration with a microfinance institution in Malawi, the authors tested two primary treatments, offering either: 1)"ordinary"accounts, or 2) both ordinary and"commitment"accounts. Commitment accounts allowed customers to restrict access to their own funds until a future date of their choosing. A control group was not offered any account but was tracked alongside the treatment groups. Only the commitment treatment had statistically significant effects on subsequent outcomes. The effects were positive and large on deposits and withdrawals immediately prior to the next planting season, agricultural input use in that planting, crop sales from the subsequent harvest, and household expenditures in the period after harvest. Across the set of key outcomes, the commitment savings treatment had larger effects than the ordinary savings treatment. Additional evidence suggests that the positive impacts of commitment derive from keeping funds from being shared with one's social network.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Provided either an ordinary savings account to rural smallholders with direct deposits of sales revenue from participating agri-businesses or both an ordinary savings account and a "commitment" savings account.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 3,150 (6% women) poor and low-middle income farmers in 299 clubs.

    Findings: Increased land under cultivation (9.8%), use of agricultural inputs (26.2%), crop sales from subsequent harvest (22%), and HH expenditure during post-harvest (17.4%). No gender-specific effects are reported.

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  • Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya

    Dupas and Robinson (2009)

    Original Abstract:

    Does limited access to formal savings services impede business growth in poor countries? To shed light on this question, we randomized access to non-interest-bearing bank accounts among two types of self-employed individuals in rural Kenya: market vendors (who are mostly women) and men working as bicycle-taxi drivers. Despite large withdrawal fees, a substantial share of market women used the accounts, were able to save more, and increased their productive investment and private expenditures. We see no impact for bicycle-taxi drivers. These results imply significant barriers to savings and investment for market women in our study context. Further work is needed to understand what those barriers are, and to test whether the results generalize to other types of businesses or individuals.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Individual commitment savings products offered by a village bank. Interest-free account; high withdrawal fees. Tested the importance of savings constraints for self-employed individuals.

    Methodology: RCT - Moderate rigor (small sample size).

    Sample: 185 microentpreneurs.

    Findings: Positive impact of savings on business investment among women (40% increase). Increase in women's private expenditures (37 to 40% higher). Some impact on making women less vulnerable to health shocks. No effect for men.

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  • Impacts of Land Certification on Tenure, Security, Investment, and Land Markets: Evidence from Ethiopia

    Deininger, Ali and Alemu (2009)

    Original Abstract:

    While early attempts at land titling in Africa were often unsuccessful, the need to secure land rights has kindled renewed interest, in view of increased demand for land, a range of individual and communal rights available under new laws, and reduced costs from combining information technology with participatory methods. We used a difference-in-difference approach to assess the effects of a low-cost land registration program in Ethiopia, which covered some 20 million plots over five years, on investment. Despite policy constraints, the program increased land-related investment and yielded benefits significantly above the cost of implementation.

    Intervention settings: Rural: East Gojjam zone of the Amhara region.

    Intervention description: Low-cost land registration scheme covering 20 million plots over 5 years.

    Methodology: Difference in differences estimation using four rounds of panel survey data spanning 8 years.

    Sample: 900 plots owned by households from 7 villages in 3 districts.

    Findings: Significant positive effect on the three outcomes examined: i.e., perceived tenure security, land-related investments and participation in land rental markets.

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  • Challenges in Banking the Rural Poor: Evidence from Kenya's Western Province

    Dupas and Robinson (2012)

    Original Abstract:

    Most people in rural Africa do not have bank accounts. In this paper, we combine experimental and survey evidence from Western Kenya to document some of the supply and demand factors behind such low levels of financial inclusion. Our experiment had two parts. In the first part, we waived the fixed cost of opening a basic savings account at a local bank for a random subset of individuals who were initially unbanked. While 63% of people opened an account, only 18% actively used it. Survey evidence suggests that the main reasons people did not begin saving in their bank accounts are that: (1) they do not trust the bank, (2) service is unreliable, and (3) withdrawal fees are prohibitively expensive. In the second part of the experiment, we provided information on local credit options and lowered the eligibility requirements for an initial small loan. Within the following 6 months, only 3% of people initiated the loan application process. Survey evidence suggests that people do not borrow because they do not want to risk losing their collateral. These results suggest that, while simply expanding access to banking services (for instance by lowering account opening fees) will benefit a minority, broader success may be unobtainable unless the quality of services is simultaneously improved. There are also challenges on the demand side, however. More work needs to be done to understand what savings and credit products are best suited for the majority of rural households.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Provided safe place (metal box) to save money with randomly varying levels of commitment to save.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 771 Members of 113 rotating savings clubs (ROSCAs) in one administrative division of western Kenya.

    Findings: Preventive health investments increased by 68%. The share of households achieving their savings goals increased by 13% (compared to 34% in the control group). Three years later 39% of those who received metal boxes were still using them for saving. Larger effects found among married than among unmarried females. The results also suggest that savings programs that do not restrict liquidity are most effective.

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  • How High Are Rates of Return to Fertilizer? Evidence from Field Experiments in Kenya

    Duflo, Kremer and Robinson (2008)

    Original Abstract:

    N/A

    Intervention settings: Rural: Busia district.

    Intervention description: Free fertilizer and hybrid seeds provided to randomly selected farmers. Assistance in applying the inputs correctly and harvesting the crops.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 673 farmers with children enrolled in schools (randomly selected from school enrollment list).

    Findings: Median increased in yields from 9% to 49% (depending on the fertilizer treatment). However, median rates of return were positive for only one of the treatments.

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