The Sooner the Better: An Evaluation of Forecast-Based Action in Somalia
This study takes place in pastoralist regions of Somalia, where, based on data from Save the Children (StC), household income was $250 in a drought and $400 in the most recent drought-free year. During droughts, which are projected to increase as a result of climate change, livestock production, income, and consumption decline, and households resort to irreversible sales of livestock assets. In this study, researchers will partner with StC and the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action, to evaluate forecast-based action, which uses meteorological forecasts, price data, and satellite-based livestock production models to project the likelihood of weather-related distress. Poor conditions trigger aid before the season even begins, allowing households to avoid harmful coping strategies. While it is intuitive that delivering aid earlier would be beneficial, the evidence base on this issue is thin, and most conventional humanitarian aid is delivered after the shock has occurred. This randomized evaluation will compare the impacts of aid that begins after a drought has begun to the same amount of aid sent to households earlier based on the forecasts, in addition to measuring the impacts of the aid program overall. The researchers will measure dynamic impacts on food security, assets, and income via monthly phone surveys, and additional outcomes, including child anthropometrics, risk-coping, psycho-social well-being, and intimate partner violence, will be measured via in-person endline surveys.
This evaluation is one of the first projects of the Jameel Observatory, an international partnership with the University of Edinburgh, International Livestock Research Institute, StC, J-PAL, and Community Jameel. The Observatory is dedicated to mitigating climate shocks resulting in hunger within livestock farming communities by connecting technology, data, and evidence with community-driven applications and interventions.