Urban Services Initiative: Evaluations

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Evaluations Funded During the Seventh Round (Fall 2016)

Paying for Urban Services: Utility Bills and the Spending Patterns of the Poor
Researchers: B. Kelsey Jack, Kathryn McDermott
Location: South Africa
Timeline: 2017-2018
Type of Project: Full Study

Revenue recovery is a challenge for urban service providers in developing countries. Poor customers often struggle to pay monthly bills and providers face both high costs and political economy barriers to enforcing payment. Prepayment is an increasingly popular solution to this problem in the electricity and water sectors. In this study setting, low income households purchase prepaid electricity every 3 days, on average, and use 12 percent less electricity than when they are billed monthly. Researchers will investigate the preferences and constraints that give rise to these spending and consumption patterns on prepaid metering. The study findings will both shed light on factors that contribute to current high rates of payment delinquency on monthly billing and will inform the design of interventions to improve revenue recovery for urban services while simultaneously meeting the needs of low income households.

Work-progression and Productivity Toolkit
Researchers: Christopher Woodruff, Hannah Uckat
Location: Bangladesh
Timeline: 2017-2018
Type of Project: Full Study

The Bangladeshi garment industry was instrumental in expanding women’s employment opportunities in the urban job market. However, the positions available to women at factories remain mostly limited to those at the machine-operator level. Building on previous researchers (Macchiavello et al., Challenges of Change: An Experiment Training Women to Manage in the Bangladeshi Garment Sector, 2015) researchers propose to design a shorter and less costly training program for female operators that focuses on soft skills, especially building confidence. Randomizing individual workers into three groups (soft skills training, soft + hard skills training, and control), researchers will determine whether soft skills training or hard skills training is a more effective and efficient means to promoting female advancement. If one of the trainings is found to be effective, IFC and Better Work are interested in scaling-up the intervention.

What Drives Carpooling?
Researchers: Rema Hanna, Abhijit Banerjee
Location: Malaysia
Timeline: 2017-2018
Type of Project: Full Study

Traffic is a significant and growing concern in many developing and emerging countries, which are experiencing rising incomes and increasing urbanization. This project aims to shed light on one mechanism that has the potential to help reduce traffic and its associated ills: specifically, can carpooling be encouraged? Researchers will partner with an innovative company that has designed a phone app that aims to help individuals coordinate to carpool. Using this platform, they will test the willingness to pay for carpooling services, as well as understand what can be done to reduce coordination failures and increase the match rate of drivers and passengers.

Effect of Capacity in Delivery of Urban Services
Researchers: Gharad Bryan, Gerard Padro I Miguel, Ali Cheema, Asad Liaqat, Adnan Khan
Location: Pakistan
Timeline: 2016-2017
Type of Project: Pilot Study

The delivery of public services in many developing countries is very poor. The literature has focused the lack of incentives for officials to perform adequately. However, a significant challenge to the delivery of public services might be the lack of capacity of those ultimately responsible. It is therefore important to measure the relative importance of inadequate capacity in the delivery of public service. This pilot study aims to determine the relevant dimensions of capacity as well as measure the relative effect of capacity in the delivery of public services in Lahore city in Pakistan via an intervention. The pilot will be run in close collaboration with policy actors, especially the Government of Punjab. The subsequent step will be the design of an intervention to mitigate the effects of lack of capacity which will ultimately be taken to policy.

New to the City: A Pilot Study on Migrant Job Search, Information Revelation and Technology
Researchers: Shawn Cole, Niharika Singh, Nilesh Fernando, Gabriel Tourek
Location: India
Timeline: 2017
Type of Project: Pilot Study

Urban populations in the developing world are expanding rapidly, driven, in large part, by rural migrants drawn by the promise of lucrative employment alternatives to agriculture. However, significant barriers often prevent new migrants, who have left behind their rural support network, from making a successful transition. This pilot study focuses on this population in Bangalore, India, a city undergoing rapid growth in both economic opportunities and population. Researchers will explore the potential for online and mobile technologies to expand awareness of opportunities and reduce the exclusion of new arrivals through addressing standard failures in markets for information. Working in partnership with an online job-matching start-up based in Bangalore, they will experimentally evaluate strategies to improve access to and the quality of information among employers and migrant jobseekers. Researchers hope to identify innovations that could be used to address barriers on both the demand and supply sides of the market at scale.

The Real Effect of Electronic Wage Payments: An Experiment with Salaried Factory Workers in Bangladesh
Researchers: Emily Breza, Leora Klapper, Martin Kanz
Location: Bangladesh
Timeline: 2016-2017
Type of Project: Full Study

Researchers have partnered with two garment factories, a local bank, and a mobile payments provider to study whether employers can assist workers in building basic financial capability by offering electronic wage payments. To investigate this question, researchers are conducting a randomized controlled trial in which they introduce i) electronic wage payments through conventional bank accounts and ii) electronic wage payments through a mobile payment platform among a population of salaried factory workers who were previously paid in cash. In the main experiment, researchers test the effects of electronic wage payments on workers’ financial decisions and capabilities. In addition, they plan to conduct a proof of concept experiment for a new financial product designed to help workers smooth their consumption throughout the month. Researchers aim to evaluate whether electronic wage payments and consumption smoothing products translate into improved worker attendance and productivity, either through induced savings, improved ability to cope with income shocks, or changes in borrowing behavior.

The Role of Information, Accountability and Resource Gaps in Explaining Poor Urban Services Quality in Addis Ababa and Its Rapidly Urbanizing Surroundings
Researchers: Pascaline Dupas, Girum Abebe Tefera, Daniel Agness, Tigabu Degu Getahun
Location: Ethiopia
Timeline: 2017
Type of Project: Full Study

Researchers aim to explore the role of three potential, non-mutually exclusive, reasons for why the responsiveness of local officials to the needs of dwellers in rapidly growing urban areas at the outskirt of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is low: (1) they lack information on the citizen’s priorities; (2) they lack the incentives to respond to citizen’s priorities because they are not held accountable for citizen’s well-being; (3) they lack the autonomy (i.e. the power to access the resources) to respond to citizen’s priorities.

Researchers will explore these issues by (1) surveying local officials (both elected officials and bureaucrats) to gauge the extent to which there is a mismatch between what they perceive as the local community’s priorities and the actual priorities, as well as between their stated priorities and what they think are the community’s priorities; and (2) piloting a “report card” treatment intervention in which we will report summary information on citizen’s concerns and needs. The report cards will be shared with officials at different levels of both the political and bureaucratic hierarchy. Researchers will then trace the extent to which the report card intervention affects budget allocations and policy choices, and how this depends on who is targeted by the intervention.

Understanding Urban Housing in India
Researchers: Mushfiq Mobarak, Gaurav Chiplunkar
Location: India
Timeline: 2017
Type of Project: Pilot Study

This study aims to understand the factors that influence the equilibrium of poor housing quality in India, where low-income households (demand side) demand services from informally trained masons (supply side). This study proposes to understand the interactions between demand and supply side factors that result in the poor equilibrium in the housing market. On the supply side, the primary research questions focus on ways to increase in the masons’ knowledge and technical skills, improving the livelihood of masons etc. With the incorporation of the demand side, we can now examine questions on the demand side as well. From existing literature, financial constraints seem to be a major constraint in undertaking investment activities. However, from anecdotal evidence from talking to households and masons, there seems to be a mismatch of expectations with regard to the construction costs as well. So a reason for the lack of housing investments could be because households overestimate the construction costs and hence do not undertake them even though they are capable of doing so. In that regard, the study proposes to evaluate the impact of correcting the mismatch of expectations in undertaking investment decisions, both by households as well as the masons using a software developed by the partner organization, mHS. Taking into account the requirements of the project along with local prices, the software estimates costs and timelines for a construction project. Researchers will also investigate if intermediaries are needed to provide credibility to the software.

Evaluations Funded During the Sixth Round (Fall 2015)

Waiting Time, Wasting Time: A Randomized Control Trial to Investigate the Health Impacts of Improving the Quality of Antenatal Care in Mozambique
Researchers: Margaret McConnell, Sandra Sequeira 
Location: Mozambique
Timeline: 2016-2018
Type of Project: Pilot Study

Researchers will conduct a pilot of a randomized evaluation in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Mozambique to determine whether reducing wait times can increase the demand for antenatal care and improve the quality of care. The central hypothesis is that long queues have a negative effect on both demand and quality of care in public clinics in urban Mozambique. The objective of the pilot is to evaluate the impact of a scheduling system for follow-up antenatal care visits with a randomized evaluation to be conducted in clinics in urban and peri-urban Mozambique. Key outcomes will include clinic wait times, the number of patients seen per day, the percentage of women receiving the recommended number of antenatal care visits and the number of key effective interventions that women receive from the recommended national package of antenatal care.

Designing Incentives to Combat Urban Diabetes
Researchers: Rebecca Dizon-Ross, Shilpa Aggarwal, Ariel Zucker
Location: India
Timeline: 2016
Type of Project: Full Study

Diabetes and diabetes-related complications have reached epidemic levels in urban India. A promising strategy for local governments to reduce the financial and physical burdens of diabetes is to encourage better disease management by patients. Disease management may be particularly poor among impatient people, since the costs of management (e.g., exercising more) are borne today but the benefits are realized in the future. Thus, offering financial rewards for healthy behaviors may be a potent tool for improving disease management. However, it is not well understood how to optimally design incentives for impatient agents. Two key aspects of the incentive design (the lag between incentivized behavior and payment, and whether the contract is additively separable across days) should theoretically interact with time preferences. Based on these interactions, the researchers have developed new insights for how to structure contracts to overcome the behavioral biases preventing healthy behaviors. This project will conduct a randomized evaluation of different incentive schemes for diabetics, varying lag length and additive separability, to evaluate what incentive scheme works best and how incentive effectiveness varies by individual time preferences. The project will also assess whether input or outcomes incentives are more effective. Researchers are measure impacts on health outcomes like blood sugar control and BMI, as well as the persistence of the impacts.

Rebuilding the Social Compact: Urban Service Delivery and Property Taxes in Pakistan
Researchers: Benjamin OlkenAsim Khwaja, Adnan Khan
Location: Pakistan
Timeline: 2016 – 2017 
Type of Project: Full Study (also funded in round 5 as a pilot)

A significant challenge to the provision of local public services–water, sanitation, waste removal, etc.–in developing economies is the inability to raise adequate resources, especially through local taxation. In many countries the social compact, whereby citizens agree to pay taxes to fund government services that are then credibly and transparently delivered, is broken. A low willingness to pay taxes leads to low revenue collection and prevents adequate service provision, which in turn reduces willingness to pay and even leads to citizen disengagement from the state. In this project, researchers will investigate whether strengthening the link between local collections and urban services can increase citizens’ willingness to pay for services, improve service delivery, and ultimately revitalize the social compact. Researchers will test this in major urban centers in Punjab, Pakistan via several interventions–including eliciting citizen preferences for specific services when taxes are collected, earmarking revenue for specific services, and providing matching grants– that credibly strengthen the link between tax collection and urban service provision. In addition to alleviating public finance challenges, outcomes will also likely address citizen demand, collective action, and broader political economy constraints.

Evaluations Funded During the Fifth Round (Fall 2014)

Following Up for Better Health: Improving Non-Communicable Disease Compliance in Urban India
Researchers: Daniel Bennett, Simone Schaner
Partner(s): Swasth India
Location: India
Timeline: 2015-2017
Type of Project: Full Study

The majority of individuals with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) live in the developing world, where prevalence rates are growing rapidly as nations become richer and more urban. In cities, where most individuals have access to a variety of medical providers, improving adherence to treatment is key to reducing morbidity from NCDs. Researchers will partner with Swasth India, which operates private health clinics in the slums of Mumbai, to experimentally evaluate several interventions designed to improve NCD adherence. These interventions include (a) SMS reminders to adhere to treatment, (b) patient education on NCDs and the consequences of non-adherence, (c) a discount for NCD follow-up visits and medicine, and (d) a “regular patient” lottery, where the number of follow-up visits increases the value of the lottery prize. A key aim of the project will be to evaluate the role that different behavioral factors (particularly psychic costs of seeking treatment, limited attention, and loss aversion) play in limiting NCD adherence.

Worker Well-Being and Productivity in the Bangladesh Garment Sector
Researchers: Paula Lopez-Peña, Muhammad Kamruzzaman Mozumder, Atonu Rabbani, Christopher Woodruff
Partner(s): Innovations for Poverty Action
Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Timeline: 2015
Type of Project: Pilot Study 

Researchers will pilot a stress management intervention based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to understand whether building skills to cope with psychological strain raises productivity and well-being levels among female workers in an urban manufacturing context. The setting is the Bangladesh ready-made garment (RMG) sector, the country’s largest employer of low-skilled workers living in urban slums and squatter settlements. Residing in these areas exposes them to high levels of noise, waste accumulation, air pollution, and other distressing environmental conditions. In addition, the majority migrate from rural areas, losing access to family support and social networks. This study will use a randomized placebo-controlled trial to ascertain whether a stress reduction intervention can pay for itself through increased productivity and reduced absenteeism in factories. Researchers will also measure its effects on the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and on self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Rebuilding the Social Compact: Urban Service Delivery and Property Taxes in Pakistan
Researchers: Asim KhwajaBenjamin Olken
Partner(s): Center for Economic Research in Pakistan
Location: Punjab, Pakistan
Timeline: 2015-2016
Type of Project: Pilot Study

A significant challenge to the provision of local public services–water, sanitation, waste removal, etc.–in developing economies is the inability to raise adequate resources, especially through local taxation. In many countries this social compact–whereby citizens agree to pay taxes to fund government services that are then credibly and transparently delivered–is broken. A low willingness to pay taxes leads to low revenue collection and prevents adequate service provision, in turn further reducing willingness to pay and even leading to citizen disengagement from the state. In this project, researchers will investigate whether strengthening the link between local collections and urban services can increase citizens’ willingness to pay for services, improve service delivery, and ultimately revitalize the social compact. They will test this hypothesis in major urban centers in Punjab, Pakistan via pilot interventions–including eliciting citizen preferences for specific services when taxes are collected, earmarking revenue for specific services and providing matching grants–credibly strengthening the link between tax collection and urban service provision. While alleviating public finance challenges, outcomes also will likely address citizen demand, collective action and broader political economy constraints.

Public Transport and Urban Labor Market Integration: A Randomized Control Trial
Researchers: Erica Field, Kate Vyborny
Partner(s): Center for Economic Research in Pakistan, Lahore Transport Company
Location: Lahore, Pakistan
Timeline: 2015-2017
Type of Project: Full Study

A well-integrated citywide public transport network contributes to economic development by reducing transport costs and travel time, facilitating specialization of firms and workers, and decreasing the cost of economic transactions. Yet, despite increasing urbanization, many cities in developing countries suffer from a poorly connected public transport network, particularly in peri-urban areas. The challenges of limited public transportation affect women disproportionately in many settings, including Pakistan, primarily because of social taboos on women’s use of bicycles and motorcycles, and cultural and safety constraints. Researchers are testing the impact of a low-cost transport service—short feeder routes that link in to major transport lines—around Lahore, Pakistan. Feeder routes are a low-cost means of enhancing the effectiveness of existing investments such as the capital-intensive Bus Rapid Transit system in Lahore. One treatment arm of the study will offer a service reserved for women, which is particularly important since small wagons appropriate for feeder routes do not have room to accommodate a women’s compartment. Researchers will examine the effect of these routes on labor market outcomes as well as measures of female empowerment.

Mental Health, Productivity, and Child Investment in Peri-Urban Bangalore
Researchers: Manuela Angelucci, Daniel Bennett, Rahul Shidhaye
Partner(s): BasicNeeds, Grameena Abudaya Seva Samsthe
Location: Bangalore, India
Timeline: 2015-2017
Type of Project: Pilot Study

Researchers are piloting an impact evaluation of depression treatment and economic assistance for women in peri-urban communities near Bangalore, India. Poor mental health is a severe problem in developing countries and particularly in peri-urban areas with high rates of migration and low access to basic services. This study will explore whether mental health moderates other important economic behaviors for this vulnerable population. After screening the study population for mild or moderate depression, researchers will cross-randomize depression treatment and economic assistance to study participants. The depression treatment will involve monthly psychiatric consultations and SSRI (anti-depressant) medications. Researchers will provide economic assistance by placing workers in formal-sector jobs in several dozen nearby factories. They will measure impacts on mental health, labor supply, productivity, and child investment over three and six months.

Evaluations Funded During the Fourth Round (Spring 2014)

Wastewater as a Collective Action Problem: Effluent Trading for Water Quality in Urban India
Researchers: Michael Greenstone, Nick Hagerty, Rohini Pande, Nicholas Ryan, Anant Sudarshan
Partner(s): Indian state pollution regulator, and a common effluent treatment plant
Location: India
Timeline: 2014-2016
Type of Project: Full Study

The density that defines cities exacerbates collective action problems: my garbage litters your street, my sewage taints your drinking water. Households and firms often do not see the true cost that their waste imposes on others, which leads to excessive discharge. The resultant pollution of common resources, like waterways and reservoirs, imposes high costs on downstream residents. Researchers will investigate whether markets for pollution—specifically, the discharge of industrial effluent in urban India—can provide better incentives for conservation. Such trading markets have never been used to manage water pollution in India. Researchers will partner with an Indian state regulator and a common effluent treatment plant to set up a cap-and-trade system for effluent in a large group of industrial plants. Markets theoretically yield efficient water conservation, provided there are clear property rights and low transaction costs. Researchers will conduct a randomized evaluation of the initial allocation of discharge permits to test this fundamental relationship. This trial will provide policy guidance on the scope for market instruments to address collective action problems in public services with externalities from overuse.

Pre-Paid Electricity: Better Service Delivery for the Poor?
Researchers: Kelsey Jack, Grant Smith
Partner(s): City of Cape Town
Location: South Africa
Timeline: 2014-2016
Type of Project: Pilot Study

Prepaid water and electricity meters offer a promising solution to lumpy and unpredictable bills by allowing customers to choose the timing and quantity of purchases. At the same time, prepayment circumvents debt accumulation, allowing utility companies to serve otherwise high-cost customers. Researchers will collaborate with the municipal utility in Cape Town, South Africa to evaluate customer responses and revenue recovery for prepaid versus credit electricity metering. The study will generate new evidence on the impacts of prepaid meters on energy use and revenue recovery using both a randomized phase-in of new prepaid customers and a retrospective evaluation of historic transitions to prepaid meters in a ten year, household database of all municipal utility customers. Researchers will explore how prepaid meters change the customer experience and the municipality’s revenue recovery. The pilot study will be used to refine hypotheses about consumption responses and explore the potential for complementary interventions, such as improved price information. Findings from this pilot study will contribute to the literature on service delivery for customers with limited liability, and will inform future (testable) policy interventions for South Africa and other developing country municipalities.

Handwashing and Habit Formation
Researchers: Reshmaan Hussam, Atonu Rabbani, Giovanni Reggiani, Natalie Rigol
Partner(s):Society for Health and Demographic Surveillance, India
Location: India
Timeline: 2014-2015
Type of Project: Pilot Study

This project addresses poor hand hygiene, a leading driver of child mortality via bacterial and viral contamination and resulting diarrhea and acute respiratory infection. Public health campaigns focused on handwashing with soap have consistently failed to generate long term behavioral change, despite the effectiveness of the practice in clinical studies in improving health. In collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, researchers have developed an innovative measurement tool for handwashing that generates the precise data and feedback loop required to study and nurture systematic behavioral change via the habit loop; the project then employs this device across a large sample of households and nursery schools along with a series of incentive-driven interventions intended to generate sustained habit formation. 

This pilot study will take place in West Bengal, India. The study intervention will target mothers and children below age five directly in their homes and through government-funded nurseries. The pilot study will randomize households into one of four treatment arms: 1) handwashing with soap and information, 2) treatment 1 plus monitoring, 3) treatment 2 plus incentives, and 4) treatment 3 plus self-commitment. Each treatment will be cross-randomized with a reminder treatment via text message. Immediate outcomes include frequency and timing of handwashing; long term outcomes include changes in household valuation for soap and detailed child-level health measures. 

Spreading the Word for Child Health and Immunization in Bangladesh Slums 
Researchers: Stephen Luby, Atonu Rabbani, Md. Jasim Uddin
Partner(s):International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b)
Location: Bangladesh
Timeline: 2014-2015
Type of Project: Pilot Study

Children of families that recently migrated to urban slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh suffer high morbidity and mortality from acute respiratory illnesses because of low immunization rates and delays in seeking appropriate health care. Recently relocated families are generally poorer, less-educated, and less knowledgeable about nearby health services than the more residentially stable population. 

This pilot study aims to develop and test an innovative, potentially low-cost intervention in Dhaka slums designed to disseminate knowledge by word-of mouth from residentially stable mothers to newly arrived mothers about nearby immunization centers and pediatric health providers. The study comprises three parts: 1) qualitative research to identify what information is useful to mothers regarding immunization centers and acute health services, 2) developing word-of-mouth communication messages, and 3) iteratively testing whether the intervention increases recently relocated mothers' knowledge of nearby immunization centers and child health clinics.  

Evaluations Funded During the Third Round (Fall 2013)

Lighting Up Bihar: Electricity Service Delivery as a Collection Action Problem
Researchers: Robin BurgessMichael Greenstone, Nicholas Ryan, Anant Sudarshan
Partner(s): Department of Energy, Government of Bihar
Location: India
Timeline: 2013-2014
Type of Project: Full Study

Each poor person cannot buy urban services alone. Many important urban services are utility or network goods, that are only viable to supply at scale, meaning that each customer’s access depends on the take-up and payments of others. This evaluation uses a group-level incentive to address this collective action problem in the context of grid electricity, where high theft and other losses limit investment and supply. The hours of power supply to each neighborhood will be explicitly linked to aggregate payment rates from that area so that higher-paying groups can earn more reliable supply. This evaluation tests how the response to this incentive in terms of collection revenues and power supply varies with group size and composition. A second treatment arm addresses supply constraints from within by providing collection incentives to the staff of electricity distribution companies. 

Evaluations Funded During the Second Round (Spring 2013)

Creating a Toilet Habit
Researchers: Johann Caro Burnett, Judy Chevalier, Mushfiq Mobarak
Partner(s): Sanergy
Location: Kenya
Timeline: 2013-2015
Type of Project: Full Study

Public health externalities from unhygienic sanitation remain a significant development challenge, even in areas where hygienic latrines are accessible or affordable. We hypothesize that behaviors like open defecation may persist because they represent ingrained habits that are difficult to change. Inspired by findings from psychology and neuroscience, we propose field experiments that are designed to instill a revised habit of community toilet use among the slum population of Nairobi. Our partner, Sanergy has created a network of hygienic latrines in Nairobi, but face a challenge of low demand for the toilets. Habit loops have been successfully created by private sector firms to increase demand for many household products and behaviors such as brushing regularly with Pepsodent toothpaste, or spraying Febreze air freshener. We propose to create such a loop for Sanergy toilets using a combination of economic incentives and a marketing campaign that is attentive to psychological cues and rewards. The experiments are designed to separate habit formation from other closely related models of risk aversion and learning.

Demand for Sanitation in Kenyan Urban Slums
Researchers: Sebastian GalianiPaul Gertler
Partner(s): Athi Water and Sanitation Board, Nairobi, Kenya; The World Bank; Water and Sanitation Program
Location: Kenya
Timeline: 2014-2016
Type of Project: Full Study

We propose to study the demand for household connection to municipal sewage systems in informal slums in Nairobi, Kenya. Governments are investing in expensive sewerage systems to bring sanitation services to the household door. The cost-effectiveness of these investments depends on the number of households that connect to the sanitation systems. However, there are large fixed costs to connect to sewage systems including both the costs charged by the utility investment in household sanitation facilities, and pipes to connect from the house to the network. We propose to use a RCT to estimate price elasticity of the demand for connections, and the extent to which the price elasticity depends on information about the relationship between sanitation and health. We also consider complications related to collective action in multi-household compound connections, and resident versus non-resident landlords. Results from this study are critical to developing pricing/subsidy and information campaign policies to cost-effectively improve connectivity.

Incentive Schemes to Promote Sustainable Urban Transportation in India
Researchers: Santosh Kesavan, Rohini PandeAnant Sudarshan
Partner(s): Rapid Metro Gurgaon Limited (RMGL)
Location: India
Timeline: 2013-2014
Type of Project: Pilot Study

The transport sector accounts for over 60 percent of global petroleum consumption and nearly a quarter of world carbon-dioxide emissions. It seems evident that if we are to address global climate challenges it will be necessary to ensure that the rapidly growing additional mobility needs in the developing world are met largely through sustainable public transport. In addition, while environmental considerations alone represent reason enough to incentivize public transport, access to reliable, safe and affordable mobility is likely to have significant impacts on poverty reduction and development in urban regions of developing countries. We propose an innovative project in partnership with a new metro rail network located in a satellite city of Delhi (Gurgaon) in India. The pilot will involve a quick evaluation of (i) Effectiveness of a set of innovative behavioral and financial incentive schemes designed to encourage the use of public transport (ii) Sensitivity to price of the urban poor, and (iii) Provide evidence on the effects of access to safe mobility on socio-economic outcomes within the urban poor, in particular for women.

Eliciting Willingness-To-Pay for Point-of-Source In-Line Chlorinators in Low Income Areas of Urban Dhaka
Researchers: Jenna Davis, Stephen Luby, Amy Pickering, Atonu Rabbani, Leanne Unicomb
Partner(s): Stanford University; International Center for Diarrheal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b)
Location: Bangladesh
Timeline: 2013-2014
Type of Project: Pilot Study

This project proposes estimating the willingness-to-pay for a novel water treatment device that is attached to a hand pump that draws water from the public water supply network. The water supply is often contaminated with impurity and pathogens and causes common water-borne diseases. The device will treat water through a pre-specified amount of chlorine as the water flows out of the pump. The device uses simple techniques and does not require any moving parts or electronics. The automatic In-Line Chlorinator is a novel innovation (designed and developed by Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University with local partnership of icddr,b in Bangladesh) and this project will contribute towards measuring WTPs for such devices at the compound level. The community level point-of-source water treatment devices have not been studied before. Both technical and social innovations of the device and a demand side analysis of the product will contribute towards designing a sustainable business model, which will enable a thorough and larger research design when the intervention is eventually scaled up.

Evaluations Funded During the First Round (Fall 2012)

A Tragedy of the Commons in the Household: Water Use and Intrahousehold Externalities
Researchers: Kelsey JackSeema Jayachandran
Partner(s): Southern Water and Sewerage Company
Location: Zambia
Timeline: 2013-2015
Type of Project: Pilot Study

A household’s water usage has negative externalities on community members and future community members when water resources are scarce and depletable. If piped water is delivered by a water utility, this externality can be addressed by setting the price equal to the marginal social cost.  The household is paying the social cost on the margin. However, each individual within the household may not be paying that price. If individuals are not completely altruistic toward their family members or cooperation fails because of an inability to enforce individual consumption levels, then each will only partly internalize the price if the water bill is partly or fully paid by other family members. This is a challenging problem for a water utility to solve because the water is provided to a household, not an individual. There is an analogous problem with electricity or penalties for not recycling or any other case where a household’s behavior imposes externalities beyond the household and a service is provided to and priced at the household level. This motivates the research question for this project: Are households in which members are less altruistic toward each other less price sensitive in their water consumption?

Encouraging the Adoption of Improved Sanitation Solutions in Lusaka
Researchers: Muthoni Ngatia, William ParienteRoland Rathelot
Partner(s): Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP)
Location: Zambia
Timeline: 2014-2016
Type of Project: Full Study

This project received off-cycle pilot funding in early 2015, after which the researchers submitted a proposal for a full evaluation to carry out a research study to test different strategies to encourage the urban poor in a peri-urban area in Lusaka to build pour-flush latrines. However, due to problems in securing an implementing partner, the project was later cancelled.