NGOs and the effectiveness of interventions

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2018-05-31

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Abstract

Interventions in remote, rural settings face high transaction costs. We develop a model of household decision-making to evaluate how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) address these implementation-related challenges and influence intervention effectiveness. To test our model’s predictions, we create a sample of observationally similar Indian villages that differ in their prior engagement with a local development NGO. In partnership with this NGO, we then stratify a randomized technology promotion intervention on this institutional variable. We uncover a large, positive, and statistically significant ‘NGO effect’: prior engagement with the NGO increases the effectiveness of our intervention by at least 30 per cent. Our results have implications for the generalizability of experimental research conducted jointly with NGOs. In particular, attempts to scale-up findings from such work may prove less successful than anticipated if the role of NGOs is insufficiently understood. Alternatively, policy makers looking to scale-up could achieve greater success by enlisting trusted local partners.

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Usmani, F, MA Jeuland and SK Pattanayak (2018). NGOs and the effectiveness of interventions. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/17226.

Scholars@Duke

Jeuland

Marc A. Jeuland

Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy

Marc Jeuland is a Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, with a joint appointment in the Duke Global Health Institute. His research interests include nonmarket valuation, water and sanitation, environmental health, energy poverty and transitions, trans-boundary water resource planning and management, and the impacts and economics of climate change. 

Jeuland's recent research includes work to understand the economic implications of climate change for water resources projects on transboundary river systems, a range of primary data collection projects related to analysis of adoption of environmental health improving technology, and analysis of the costs and benefits of environmental health interventions in developing countries. He has conducted multiple field experiments on issues such as: the role of water quality information in affecting household water and hygiene behaviors; the demand for, and impacts of cleaner cookstoves on household well-being; the long-term sustainability and effects of rural sanitation and water supply projects. He has also collected data on preferences for a range of environmental health improvements including cholera vaccines, household water treatment technologies and improved cookstoves. In the energy and development domain, he is currently working on several projects with the Energy Access Project at Duke, and is a co-founder of the Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative (SETI), along with Professor Subhrendu Pattanayak and scholars from Chile, China and Ethiopia. His energy portfolio includes work related to evaluation of cleaner cooking interventions, measuring energy access and reliability, and reviews of the drivers and impacts literature related to energy. 

Jeuland has worked in the past with the World Bank, USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, UNICEF, and many field-based NGOs and community-based implementing organizations.

Prior to his graduate studies and work with the World Bank, Jeuland was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, West Africa, where he designed and monitored construction of a pilot wastewater treatment system and trained management personnel at the plant’s managing firm.

Pattanayak

Subhrendu K. Pattanayak

Oak Foundation Distinguished Professor of Environmental and Energy Policy

Subhrendu K. Pattanayak is the Oak Professor of Environmental and Energy Policy at Duke University. He studies the causes and consequences of human behaviors related to the natural environment to help design and evaluate policy interventions in low-income tropical countries. His research is in three domains at the intersection of environment, development, health and energy: forest ecosystem services, environmental health (diarrhea, malaria, respiratory infections) and household energy transitions. He has focused on design of institutions and policies that are motivated by enormous inequities and a range of efficiency concerns (externalities, public goods and imperfect information and competition).

Dr. Pattanayak approaches these problems through systematic reviews of the literature (meta-analyses) and statistical modeling with high-resolution objective data collected in the field. He then uses those data to test hypotheses salient to policy manipulation, developed both from economic frameworks, stakeholder discussions and direct observations in the field. He employs empirical methods that exploit quasi-experimental variation (or experiments where feasible and appropriate), captured through household, community and institutional surveys. He typically matches these survey data with meso-scale secondary statistics and estimates econometric models to generate policy parameters. Dr. Pattanayak has collaborated closely with multi-lateral agencies, NGOs, governments, and local academics in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the U.S.


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