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.
Dec 27, 2011

Using surveys and pilots to prepare for 2012

Greetings from Tamale, Ghana! At the time of our last update, the Examining Underinvestment in Agriculture (EUI) project had finished marketing rainfall-indexed insurance to smallholder farmers in northern Ghana, and had measured high demand for the product. The EUI project is currently preparing for the next year of the project, with a full set of activities which include: conducting an insurance product satisfaction survey; preparing to conduct a comprehensive household survey of all respondents; making plans to again market a commercial index insurance product to farmers; and wrapping up a pilot study on fertilizer technology. 

The project is currently conducting a short survey with those farmers who purchased the Sanzali insurance product this year in order to measure rainfall perception, product knowledge and product satisfaction. Results of the survey will inform the Ghana Agricultural Insurance Programme and Ghana Insurers Association as they develop a commercial index product to market ahead of next year’s agricultural season.  Following the product satisfaction survey, the project will conduct a comprehensive, four-hour household survey with all respondents to measure the effects of insurance on areas ranging from agricultural input use and yields to household financial flows and consumption. This is very exciting, as it means that many more people may be able to access rainfall insurance in years to come.

The project is also completing activities related to a small pilot study on fertilizer technology conducted with fifteen smallholder farmers living within the EUI project area. Farmers were provided with commercial organic and inorganic fertilizers and an open-pollinated maize seed variety, as well as provided with extension advice about recommended input packages. Results from the fertilizer technology pilot will help to inform decisions about testing combinations of rainfall-indexed insurance with agricultural technology packages in the future.

As usual, we thank our donors for making such remarkable progress possible. And we wish you all a very wonderful 2012 as we, too, prepare for the new year.

Nov 21, 2011

An Autumn Update

First of all, a huge thank you to all of our previous and recent supporters! Our latest update from the field includes some of the fall activities that we've carried out to achieve the next steps in both implementation and concurrent evaluation of this exciting national program in Ghana.

Some of the exciting developments we would like to share are integral parts of the success of the program. Over the last few months, all community teaching assistants were retrained to serve in their community schools throughout the country. The re-training was to ensure the instruction capacity gaps identified during teacher's assistant assessments throughout the 1st phase of the project were addressed. The aim of the re-training program was to ensure that each and every trained community assistant is well equipped to work with low-performing pupils in a separate group for two or more hours each day to bring them up to speed on basic skills. This is targeted at bringing pupils who were just achieving the minimum competencies to proficiency levels.

Another major activity of the program has been consistend monitoring of the project implementation. Schools are being visited unannounced to check on the Teacher, Community Teaching Assistants and pupil attendance as well as to gather detailed information on teaching methods. The project evaluation team has begun a nation-wide exercise to collect data on the learning levels of children involved in the program to measure the initial outcomes of the project intervention. Results from this exercise will be shared in the next update.

As always, we thank you for your interest in this exciting national endeavor and invite you to share any questions or comments you have on our Global Giving page. We would love to engage more with our donors as the program grows and expands.

Sep 12, 2011

High Demand for Rainfall Insurance

The results are in: high demand for rainfall insurance in northern Ghana

Greetings from Tamale, Ghana! At the time of our last update, the Examining Underinvestment in Agriculture (EUI) project was gearing up to market insurance to maize farmers in northern Ghana. Preparations included working with the Ghana Insurers Association, Ghana National Insurance Commission, and the Ghana Agricultural Insurance Programme to secure authorization to market the country’s first commercial drought-indexed insurance product.

IPA built on previous years’ experience marketing insurance to maize farmers in northern Ghana to develop a plan for reaching 1,100 farmers this year. IPA named the product Sanzali, the local word for drought, in order to underscore the fact that the product insured against drought. The project team trained insurance marketers, developed marketing scripts for a largely illiterate farmer population, made community entry, and made individual marketing visits to randomly selected farmers from the study sample. The script sensitized farmers to insurance, and provided information about the policy, real-world examples, costs, benefits, and timelines, and allowed for substantial question and answer sessions.

Those farmers who elected to enter into formal insurance contracts with GAIP were able to sign by signature or thumbprint and to pay in cash, and later received official certificates noting their personal information and insured acreage. Throughout the marketing process, the project team closely audited activities to ensure transparency, fairness and compliance.

Because Sanzali was offered, as part of a study, it was offered at three different prices: discounted, actuarially fair, and marked-up. After marketing activities were completed, IPA analyzed demand and found it to be high. Around the Tamale Metropolitan and Savelugu-Nanton districts, 89 percent of targeted farmers were reached for an initial marketing visit, and 50.8 percent of those farmers opted to purchase Sanzali. Demand was 70 percent at the low price, 56 percent at the fair price, and 37 percent at the high price.

In the more rural West Mamprusi district, 89 percent of farmers were reached for the first marketing visit, and 90 percent of those farmers opted to purchase Sanzali! Demand was 93 percent at the low price, 89 percent at the fair price, and 86 percent at the high price.

These results are interesting to the nascent agricultural insurance industry in Ghana, and also to relevant stakeholders such as farmers, agricultural ministries and NGOs, and academics. The project team and the farmers in our study appreciate your interest in and support of this project!