Innovations for Poverty Action

IPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating, evaluating, and replicating innovative solutions to poverty and policy problems worldwide. Combining technical rigor and creative thinking, IPA partners with frontline organizations to create and evaluate context-specific solutions to poverty problems. IPA is driven by the belief that concrete evidence on what works, what does not work, and why, will accelerate the eradication of global poverty.
Aug 1, 2012

Clean water in Khasolo

Caroline, dispenser promoter/photo:Jonathan Kalan
Caroline, dispenser promoter/photo:Jonathan Kalan

In our second year of program activity, the Dispensers for Safe Water initiative at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) experienced significant growth. The number of dispensers installed in Kenya grew from 687 to 2,129 this past year and the program is now providing access to safe water to more than 420,000 people in Kenya. 

These numbers fail to convey the outsized impact that access to safe water has on the lives of individuals in Kenya. Take Adimu for example, a grandmother who was left to take care of her HIV-positive granddaughter, Tabia, after the death of her daughter. Adimu noted that HIV severely weakened Tabia’s immune system, making her especially vulnerable to waterborne diseases. “She would always need to go to the hospital,” says Adimu, “due to her weak immunity, she suffered from diarrhea regularly.” Visits to the local clinic to treat Tabia’s diarrhea were costly, uncomfortable, and time-consuming. 

But since IPA’s Chlorine Dispenser System was set up in her community in Khasolo, western Kenya, Tabia has experienced far fewer cases of diarrhea and she is doing extremely well in school. “Chlorine has improved my granddaughter’s health since she no longer suffers from diarrhea,” says Adimu, with a smile.

Your donations allow us to improve the lives of people like Adimu and Tabia every day. Without your generous support our work would not be possible. We’re hoping that you will continue to help us reach our funding goal!

Jul 13, 2012

We're reaching our goal...again!

Jyoti. (Photo by Esther Havens)
Jyoti. (Photo by Esther Havens)

17 million.  That’s the number of kids who were provided with de-worming treatment through schools last year in the state of Bihar, making this program the largest school-based de-worming program in the world!

This program impacts children’s lives on a massive scale - not only does Bihar have one of the largest populations in India, but it also has a lot of worms: all 21 million school-age children in the state are at risk of infection and more than half are infected.  The good news is that the fight against worms has already started in Bihar: in 2011 a powerful partnership between the state's departments of health and education, supported by the De-worm the World Initiative (DtW), treated those 17 million at-risk kids by training over 140,000 teachers and rolling out through a network of 67,000 schools.

The not-so-good news is that re-infection can occur in these same kids – de-worming is not a one-time solution.  That’s why DtW continues to support the government to conduct the program on an annual basis, ensuring that kids who have already been treated continue to benefit, and with the goal of reaching even more at-risk children in 2012.

Jyoti, pictured here, is a 12 year old girl who felt the impact of de-worming first hand in the initial round. Plans are underway to treat her again in September, but we need all the help we can get to guarantee a successful program round. After all, it takes a lot of planning and logistical coordination to reach 17 million kids, all on one De-worming Day.

There are few interventions that can compete with de-worming’s low cost and high benefit. For every dollar donated to the Bihar program, 4 children will receive the benefits of de-worming – and each treated child is anticipated to gain 15 more days in school. 

Help us reach our goal!  Multiplied by several dollars and many people equals a lot of healthy kids who can be ready to learn, grow, and achieve.

Jun 20, 2012

A full and exciting report from Ghana

Two students collaborate to solve a problem
Two students collaborate to solve a problem

Hello from Ghana! The last several months have been eventful for the Teacher Community Assistant Initiative (TCAI), with data analysis on the last survey of pupil testing nearly completed and refresher trainings for Teacher Community Assistants (TCAs) and teachers underway across Ghana.

The preliminary results of the testing survey have shown promise for several of the TCAI interventions, with impact on basic skills in reading and math with remedial TCAs in the after-school program, and some impact on basic skills with in-school remedial TCAs, who focus on helping the weakest pupils in each class to succeed. In the after-school intervention, pupils performed 20% better than control group pupils in basic reading skills, and 10% better than the control group in basic math! Though the teacher training intervention showed limited impacts, the results have prompted further innovation and research to better understand how to help teachers reach the weakest pupils in their classes. IPA co-hosted a  successful conference in May for education officials across Africa, featuring evidence from IPA-J-PAL (Jameel Poverty Action Lab) education research across the globe, during which the preliminary TCAI results were shared. The presentation of the TCAI results at the event provided a platform for discussion with other education leaders in countries across sub-Saharan Africa, all of whom are interested in leveraging innovative research to improve basic education outcomes in their own countries.

To help the TCAs, teachers, and head teachers run the program effectively, the implementation team is currently holding trainings across the country, where they reinforce the key ideas behind the TCA program and offer feedback and support to those working on the ground. Some highlights of the trainings thus far have been the instructional songs and games that engage pupils and make learning fun and accessible.

In the last few months, the evaluation team ran another round of surveying, during which we collected data on the execution of the Initiative on the ground. TCAI surveyors visited 497 of the 500 schools across all of Ghana, observing teachers and Teacher Community Assistants (TCAs), interviewing them, and taking attendance on pupils and school staff to measure different aspects of the program’s implementation and to measure pupil exposure to the treatments. This helps researchers from IPA and Ghanaian policy-makers to understand the true efficacy of the program, to gain insights into the reasons behind the test results for each treatment group and help shape future policy and programs.

The TCAI team has been working with the Ghana Education Service to review these initial results from the testing conducted in November 2011, and to integrate lessons learned from these early results into nation-wide policy. Local district-level education officials have already seized on TCAI’s central ideas – remedial instruction, targeted at the child’s actual learning level – to scale new initiatives across their own districts; in Adenta, in southern Ghana, a new program to improve basic reading skills was launched with successful early results, including a significant increase in the reading abilities of pupils across the district.

This exciting work will have a great impact on the education of children across Ghana, and with the help of donors like you, the TCAI study will continue to answer key research questions that will help governments and teachers to address the learning needs of pupils everywhere.