Jenny C. Aker

Field Projects

[This page describes ongoing field projects; for information on completed projects please seel below and the research section.]

I am currently working on a number of field projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these are impact evaluations — a type of evaluation whereby in which researchers work closely with development agencies, practitioners and the private sector in order to better understand the most effective strategies for reducing poverty.  Much of this research is related to the impact of mobile phone technology on development outcomes, such as literacy, agricultural practices and financial inclusion.

Here are some of the main projects I am involved in at the moment, all in collaboration with NGOs and the private sector:

ABC2 in Niger.(with Christopher Ksoll, Borge Wietzke and Catholic Relief Services). How do adult education interventions affect adults’ learning, self-esteem and educational investments in children? And does the ABC model have similar learning results once scaled up?

Mobile Money and Savings in Rwanda.(with Jessica Goldberg, Mercyline Kamande and Tigo/Rwanda). Can a mobile money product allow urban households to better achieve their savings goals?

Kichabi in Tanzania.(with Brian Dillon, Josh Blumenstock and Adalbertus Kamanzi). Can a mobile phone directory for agricultural firms reduce farmers’ information costs and improve agricultural outcomes?

Mobiles, Messages and Moutons in Niger.. (with Markus Goldstein, Michael O’Sullivan and Margaret McConnell). How can access to simple savings devices and SMS message reminders affect rural households’ savings and expenditures religious ceremonies in Niger?

The Long-Term Impacts of the ABC Program. (with Christopher Ksoll). Do the short-term learning impacts of a mobile phone adult education program persist after the program? Do these transfer into welfare gains?

Let it Reign: Adoption of Rainwater Harvesting Techniques in Niger. (with Catholic Relief Services). What are the constraints to adoption of micro-catchment techniques in Sahelian countries? And how does the use of these water techniques affect farmer-herder conflicts in the Sahel?

Cell Ed Mobile Phone-Based Adult Education in Los Angeles and Niger. (with Christopher Ksoll, Susan Smalley and CellEd.org). Can a mobile phone-based adult education program be successful in allowing illiterate populations to achieve basic numeracy and literacy?

Prior projects (2009-2012)

Mobile phones and literacy in Niger (with Catholic Relief Services, Christopher Ksoll and Travis Lybbert). Known as Project ABC (Alphabetisation de Base par Cellulaire).

Mobile Phones and Cash Transfers in Niger (with Concern Worldwide). The introduction of mobile money transfer systems such as M-Pesa in Kenya has brought new opportunities for cash transfer and remittances in Africa. This project tests the effectiveness and efficiency of a mobile phone-based conditional cash transfer system as opposed to normal cash transfer systems in Tahoua, Niger.

Cash Transfers and Vouchers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (with Concern Worldwide). There has been considerable debate over the use of conditional versus unconditional cash transfers in developing countries. Yet a key question is how the additional disposable income is spent. A key issue in many countries is the introduction of voucher programs, whereby households can spend their transfer on a more limited range of items. This project tests the effectiveness and efficiency of cash transfers versus vouchers in Masisi, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Information, Civic Education and Elections in Mozambique (with Pedro Vicente, Paul Collier and Jornal @Verdade). How does access to information affect voters’ perceptions and electoral behavior? In this field experiment in Mozambique, we worked with Jornal @Verdade and local civil society institutions to provide civic education messages to voters through different mechanisms prior to the October 2009 presidential elections.