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Community Driven Development in Sierra Leone
Last registered on March 22, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Community Driven Development in Sierra Leone
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001000
Initial registration date
March 22, 2016
Last updated
March 22, 2016 2:51 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
JPAL
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of California, Berkeley
PI Affiliation
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2005-10-10
End date
2012-09-07
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Despite their importance, there is limited evidence on how institutions can be strengthened. Evaluating the effects of specific reforms is complicated by the lack of exogenous variation in institutions, the difficulty of measuring institutional performance, and the temptation to ‘‘cherry pick’’ estimates from among the large number of indicators required to capture this multifaceted subject. We evaluate one attempt to make local institutions more democratic and egalitarian by imposing participation requirements for marginalized groups (including women) and test for learning-by-doing effects. We exploit the random assignment of a governance program in Sierra Leone, develop innovative real-world outcome measures, and use a pre-analysis plan (PAP) to bind our hands against data mining. The intervention studied is a ‘‘community-driven development’’ program, which has become a popular strategy for foreign aid donors. We find positive short-run effects on local public goods and economic outcomes, but no evidence for sustained impacts on collective action, decision making, or the involvement of marginalized groups, suggesting that the intervention
Registration Citation
Citation
Casey, Katherine, Rachel Glennerster and Edward Miguel. 2016. "Community Driven Development in Sierra Leone." AEA RCT Registry. March 22. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1000-1.0.
Former Citation
Casey, Katherine, Rachel Glennerster and Edward Miguel. 2016. "Community Driven Development in Sierra Leone." AEA RCT Registry. March 22. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1000/history/7400.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Two hundred thirty-six villages from two ethnically and politically distinct districts were randomly allocated into a treatment group or a comparison group. Villages in the treatment group were regularly visited by a GoBifo facilitator, who helped community members create or revamp Village Development Committees (VDCs), set up bank accounts for the VDCs, establish transparent budgeting practices, and create village development plans that included specifics on how GoBifo grants would be used. The participation and inclusion of marginalized groups was central to this process - for example, each social group (women, youth, and adult men) came up with their own development plan, and these plans were then combined into a single unified vision. Women were often established as treasurer of the VDC and served as co-signatories on all project finances. A series of block grants totaling US$4,667 per community were given to implement local public goods and skills training projects that were identified in the village development plans.

Household surveys, which covered participation in local decision-making, attitudes to minorities, and engagement in collective action, as well as demographic and socioeconomic information, were collected in late 2005 and again in mid-2009, along with village-level focus group discussions. In addition, three structured community activities (SCAs) were conducted in late 2009, shortly after GoBifo activities had ended, to capture any persistent impacts on collective action, participation of minorities, and elite capture. The SCAs were designed to measure how communities responded to concrete, real-world situations in three areas where GoBifo had sought to change behavior: (i) raising funds in response to a matching grant opportunity; (ii) making a community decision between two comparable alternatives; and (iii) allocating and managing an asset that was provided for free.
Intervention Start Date
2006-01-01
Intervention End Date
2009-10-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Project Implementation and Local Infrastructure Investment: The GoBifo project successfully established the village-level organizations and tools to manage development projects in nearly all cases. The distribution of project benefits within communities was equitable, leakage of project resources minimal, and minority participation high.

GoBifo villages had a larger stock of higher quality local public goods, such as a functioning primary school or community grain-drying floor, than comparison areas. There was also more market activity in treatment communities, including the presence of more traders and items for sale, suggesting short-run economic gains.

Institutional Change and Collective Action: There is no evidence that the program led to fundamental changes in local institutions or descision-making. Despite the fact that many women in treatment villages participated in GoBifo decisions, they were no more likely to voice an opinion in community meetings after the project ended or to play a leadership role in other areas. Similarly, the establishment of a democratically elected village development committee that carried out multiple projects did not lead treatment villages to be any more successful at raising funds in response to a later matching grant opportunity. Lastly, there were no program impacts on elite capture, although levels of capture were low in the research communities (at least as measured by the third SCA).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
This analysis draws on three main data sources: household surveys from late 2005 (baseline) and mid-2009 (follow-up); village-level focus group discussions held in 2005 and 2009; and three novel SCAs conducted in late 2009 shortly after GoBifo activities had ended. The SCAs were introduced with the initial follow-up survey in May 2009 and then followed up in an unannounced visit five months later. The research team and enumerators were operationally separate from GoBifo staff at all stages of the project.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
We ran 500 computer randomizations and saved all resulting assignments that generated no statistically significant differences (at 95% confidence) between treatment and control groups in terms of the total number of households per village and the distance to the nearest road. The randomization process for the island communities of Bonthe Town (which comprise 3.4 per cent of our sample) was conducted manually by a public lottery since there was no community list from the Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) 2004 Population and Housing Census available for the town to use in the computerised process.
Randomization Unit
Village level, stratifying on ward.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
236 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
2,382 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
118 GoBifo treatment and 118 control villages
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
IRB Approval Date
2005-11-04
IRB Approval Number
2005-10-17
IRB Name
MIT, COUHES
IRB Approval Date
2006-01-17
IRB Approval Number
0512001546
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
Online appendix with PAP

MD5: e9d179363f51994acd4d44d4d4a3333c

SHA1: de2b274fa1118df4211705bed7eedfdb80a56a93

Uploaded At: March 22, 2016

Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
October 01, 2009, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
October 01, 2009, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
236 villages
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
The attrition rate was moderate: no attrition in community level data, 96% of the same households were located and reinterviewed, as were 76% of the same individual respondents.
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Treatment: 118 villages Control: 118 villages
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Yes

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Program Files
Program Files
Yes
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
The World Bank and other donors dedicate sizeable portions of their portfolios to
community-driven development (CDD) projects, yet until recently there has been little
rigorous evidence regarding the efficacy of this approach. By emphasising local participation
in and control over project implementation, CDD has come to be seen as an efficient and
accountable mechanism for delivering local public goods. However, CDD aims to achieve
much more than this. Through intensive, long-term facilitation, CDD aims to strengthen
local institutions, enable them to become more democratic and inclusive of marginalised
groups and enhance the capacity of communities to engage in collective action.

This evaluation tests the extent to which CDD has achieved these goals in Sierra Leone and
has several key features. First, by randomly assigning project participation across a large
pool of eligible communities, the experimental design provides rigorous evidence regarding
the causal effects of the programme. Second, the research team followed communities over
four years, allowing it to capture changes in behaviour that are likely to evolve only slowly
over time. Third, by using a rich set of survey techniques, as well as creating a series of
real-world decisions and opportunities to act collectively through 'structured community
activities' (SCAs), we approach these important but elusive concepts of social dynamics
from a variety of angles. Fourth, to avoid data mining, the research and project teams
jointly agreed to a set of hypothesised areas of impact in 2005 before the project began,
and then in 2009 the research team defined exactly which outcome measures would be
used to evaluate success before analysing any of the post-project data. Finally, our
relatively large and diverse sample enables us to make precise statements about even
subtle changes. We use this framework to estimate (i) the direct impacts of the project
during its implementation, as well as (ii) potential spillovers onto other non-project realms
of local affairs and (iii) the lingering effects that persisted after the project itself had ended.

More specifically, one might expect a range of impacts from any development intervention,
ordered by the reach of their influence and the difficulty of their attainment. The first stage
is actually to implement projects in communities, which GoBifo accomplished quite
successfully (see outcome Family A in Table 1 below). The programme achieved what it
intended: it established village-level structures and tools to plan and manage development
projects; it provided communities with financing and guidance to implement small-scale
projects; and it created links between these processes and local government institutions.
Moreover, the contributions to and benefits from the sponsored projects were distributed
broadly and equitably, and the leakage of project resources appears to be minimal. The
extreme poverty, recent recovery from civil war and endemic struggles against corruption in
Sierra Leone make these achievements impressive.
Citation
Casey, Katherine, Rachel Glennerster, and Edward Miguel. "The GoBifo Project Evaluation Report: Assessing the Impacts of Community Driven Development in Sierra Leone." 3ie Impact Evaluation Report, October 2013.
Abstract
Despite their importance, there is limited evidence on how institutions can
be strengthened. Evaluating the effects of specific reforms is complicated by the
lack of exogenous variation in institutions, the difficulty of measuring institutional
performance, and the temptation to ‘‘cherry pick’’ estimates from among
the large number of indicators required to capture this multifaceted subject. We
evaluate one attempt to make local institutions more democratic and egalitarian
by imposing participation requirements for marginalized groups (including
women) and test for learning-by-doing effects. We exploit the random assignment
of a governance program in Sierra Leone, develop innovative real-world
outcome measures, and use a preanalysis plan (PAP) to bind our hands against
data mining. The intervention studied is a ‘‘community-driven development’’
program, which has become a popular strategy for foreign aid donors. We
find positive short-run effects on local public goods and economic outcomes,
but no evidence for sustained impacts on collective action, decision making,
or the involvement of marginalized groups, suggesting that the intervention
did not durably reshape local institutions. We discuss the practical trade-offs
faced in implementing a PAP and show how in its absence we could have
generated two divergent, equally erroneous interpretations of program impacts
on institutions.
Citation
Casey, Katherine, Rachel Glennerster, and Edward Miguel. 2012. "Reshaping Institutions: Evidence on Aid Impacts Using a Pre-Analysis Plan." Quarterly Journal of Economics 127(4): 1755-1812.