Ongoing Data Collection/RCTs

The Effects of Information on the Impact of Aid Projects in Conflict-Affected States

Funded by: KfW Development Bank

Cooperation: Government of Mali, Government of Niger, GeoPoll, Alexander De Juan (Osnabrück U)

Countries: Mali, Niger

Time frame: 2020-2021

Methods: RCT among 200 communities, 10,000 participants

PAP: in preparation

Summary: How do aid projects affect people's perception of the state and intergroup relations in post-conflict states? Households surveys conducted in contexts of conflict and violence in Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or Peru demonstrate that up to 25 percent of the local population does not know why certain aid projects are being implemented in their own villages - the share rises to above 80 percent in certain areas. Similar proportions of the population are convinced that aid projects have solely been selected because individual powerful households wanted the project. These surveys demonstrate that aid beneficiary groups often lack even a basic understanding of aid interventions in their respective communities – in terms of the initiators of the interventions, the rationale of aid distribution or specific aid objectives. While many aid projects may entail information activities in targeted areas, many others do not foresee any systematic and active information campaigns. Moreover, aid interventions very rarely extend active information to surrounding non-beneficiary areas. Case studies illustrate how the resulting lack of information can create rumors, suspicion and frustrations that can undermine the positive effects of aid interventions. Perceptions of favoritism, unfair treatment, and elite capture of aid interventions can impair intended improvements of state-society relations and inter-communal cooperation. Going beyond negative effects on intended project outcomes, misperceptions can instill distrust and thereby increase the risk that projects exert unintended negative effects on local conflict contexts. This project seeks to investigate the effects of beneficiary information campaigns on the impact of aid projects in conflict-affected areas: How does the active provision of information on aid projects influence the projects’ attitudinal effects on beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries? Answering this question does not only promise to advance academic research on heterogeneous effects of foreign aid in conflict-affected states. More importantly, it also allows for an assessment of the potential of embedding cost-efficient mobile phone)-based information campaigns into development projects to increase intended and reduce unintended aid effects.

The Mechanisms of Gender Empowerment: Experimental Evidence from Liberia


Funded by: KfW Development Bank

Cooperation: Welthungerhilfe, Oxfam, Medica Liberia, Anselm Hager (Humboldt U)

Countries: Liberia

Time frame: 2018-2022

Methods: RCT among 121 communities, 8,000 participants

PAP: http://egap.org/registration/6449

Summary: We study the empowerment of women in post-conflict Liberia using a cluster-randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Our research question is whether women are more effectively empowered by improving their economic livelihoods or by changing institutions and norms to be more accepting of gender equality. Using a factorial design, we randomly assign 120 communities in South East Liberia to i) an economic empowerment program; ii) a gender empowerment program; iii) a placebo health intervention; or iv) a pure control. Outcomes are measured during a baseline and two endline surveys.

Democratization by Accident: Does Development Aid Change Local Hierarchies?


Funded by: Welthungerhilfe, KfW Development Bank

Cooperation: Welthungerhilfe, Oxfam, Medica Liberia, Anselm Hager (Humboldt U)

Countries: Liberia

Time frame: 2018-2022

Methods: RCT among 121 communities, 8,000 participants

PAP: https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/5525

Summary: Governments of low-income countries often rely on development agencies to implement programs aiming at improving health, education and economic outcomes. Apart from these intended effects, development programs can have powerful unintended side-effects. In this study, we explore one such side-effect: democratization. Specifically, we assess whether a standard development intervention unintentionally changes local hierarchies to become more democratic. We propose two primary channels how development interventions affect social hierarchies. First, new political roles and committees challenge existing elites. Second, economic specialization brings people closer together and results in new interest groups. Both channels should, in theory, lead to more democratic local-level decision-making. We assess these hypotheses in post-conflict Liberia using a cluster-randomized controlled trial. This pre-analysis plan lays out our empirical strategy to assess the program's effect on local democratization.