Center for Effective Global Action
August 2016 - Impact Note
Rural Demand for Electricity  

Photo by CEGA
The Kenyan government has ambitious plans to connect millions of households to the national grid, specifically targeting rural households. But is there enough demand in rural areas for electricity connections? CEGA Energy Director  Catherine Wolfram and colleagues find that the demand for grid connections is much lower than expected, which may have implications for how the Kenyan government develops its Last Mile Connectivity Project.

Using Machine Learning to Fight Poverty
Photo by Marcin Ignac / 
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 
Limited economic data in parts of the developing world make it difficult to understand income distributions, identify pockets of poverty, and track governments' progress against the Sustainable Development Goals. In a new
  study , CEGA affiliates Marshall Burke and David Lobell combine high-resolution satellite imagery, nighttime lights, and machine learning to remotely measure households' consumption. In a companion article in Science , Joshua Blumenstock looks at the range of innovative tools that are being used to predict and target poverty, including cell phone call records. These new methods may generate more accurate  
estimates of household consumption, while decreasing the time and costs of data collection.

GridWatch Launches in Nairobi

Example from GridWatch smartphone app
GridWatch is a smartphone app developed by Berkeley and University of Michigan researchers, using crowdsourced mobile data to detect power outages and report back to utilities and users. The project is supported by CEGA through the Development Impact Lab (DIL), and was beta tested in August with external users at the iHub (a tech entrepreneurship hub in Nairobi). It will be launched in Kenya to the general public in September 2016.  
Research Transparency Training in the DRC
Zacharie Dimbuene   
The Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) sponsored a workshop in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on July 19-20, organized by Catalyst Zacharie Dimbuene. The event, held at the University of Kinshasa, featured trainings on the Open Science Framework (OSF), Git, and pre-analysis plans. 

New Website for Agricultural Technology Adoption

The Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI), co-managed by CEGA and the Jameel Abdul Latif Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), has launched a revamped website this month to more effectively share research and findings. The site houses evidence from more than 40 randomized evaluations in 14 countries, providing insights on agricultural finance models, extension approaches, and market access interventions for small-holder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Do Mandatory Transfers of Teachers Improve Education Quality?

Saint Kizito Omala , a fellow of the   East Africa Social Science Translation Collaborative (EASST), was interviewed for an article in the Citizen about a new study examining how Uganda's centralized teacher transfer systems affect job performance. The ongoing study is funded by EASST and led by Omala with CEGA affiliates Frederico Finan and Ernesto Dal Bo .

CEGA @ Effective Altruism (EA) Global 2016
On August 6 Joshua Blumenstock and Solomon Hsiang spoke about the growing role of machine learning and "big data" in public policy at the Effective Altruism Global 2016 conference. Held at UC Berkeley, the conference drew more than a thousand philanthropists, tech professionals, students, and others searching for evidence-based solutions to social challenges.

Savings Accounts and Interpersonal Financial Relationships

  Photo by Travis /
CC BY-NC 2.0
What are the effects of expanding access to formal savings accounts among the rural unbanked? A working paper by CEGA affiliates Jonathan Robinson (UC Santa Cruz) and Pascaline Dupas (Stanford) and co-authors finds that households with bank accounts become less reliant on money from siblings and grown children, and more supportive of neighbors within their villages.

Will Voters Support New Climate Change Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa?   
Photo by DEMOSH / CC BY 
In 2014, with support from a CEGA seed grant, UC San Diego students Nick Obradovich and Brigitte Zimmerman ran a series of experiments with prospective voters in Malawi, informing them about their preferred party's climate adaptation plans. They find that parties with long-term climate strategies are punished by voters (observing a small but very precisely estimated change in party preference). This suggests that climate change policies in Sub-Saharan Africa may face greater political obstacles than many international policymakers have anticipated. The study is available in Environmental Science and Policy .


The Science of Scaling - Event - Register Now!

On Monday, September 26, the Development Impact Lab will host an event on the Science of Scaling at UC Berkeley, exploring how evidence-based anti-poverty innovations are
being scaled up through the public and private sector. The agenda includes talks from CEGA, J-PAL, IPA, Evidence Action, and a host of partner organizations. The event will help to articulate a research agenda and community of practice for the "Science of Scaling".
Register online now .

Submit to CEGA's Photo Drive!
Photo by Venetia Menzies 
The 3rd Annual CEGA Photo Drive begins September 12. We're looking for high-resolution, captivating images to use throughout the coming year on our digital and print materials.
Submit up to five of your photos for a chance to win a $50 or $100 Amazon gift card! Photos submitted last year can be viewed online.