We will implement a randomized controlled trial measuring the impact of a two-pronged intervention that:
• Provides insurance education to women and promotes the use of their savings group as a way to save money in advance for insurance purchases through what we call a village insurance savings (VISA) account. These accounts will be essentially an accounting device in which members of a savings group publicly contribute monthly sums of money into a common account with the explicit objective of saving enough funds to purchase insurance at a future time period. As with all contributions held by savings groups, all funds are held in a locked box by the group’s treasurer in a publicly known location. Withdrawal of these funds at any point of time will be allowed and the decision to purchase insurance with the accumulated savings will always remain voluntary.
• Reframes the current IBLI contract as a product that can be used to protect women’s assets and income in the event of a drought, even if the insurance holder does not directly manage livestock. This ‘Family Framing’ of the insurance product contrasts with the standard approach of focusing on the livestock-protection aspect of this kind of insurance.
Half of the 410 savings groups in our sample will be randomly selected to receive this intervention.
All of the savings groups in the sample were initially conformed in the context of a previous poverty-graduation program (the REAP initiative carried out by BOMA, a local NGO), and the intervention will be delivered by community-based ‘facilitators’ who have previously worked in this prior BOMA Project intervention and speak the local language. Facilitators will make monthly visits to savings groups in the treatment arm between March and September when the IBLI sales window opens, and the product is available for purchase. On the first visit to treatment-arm groups facilitators will introduce the insurance product in its ‘Family Framing’ version, and will invite group members to start a new savings fund (operated within the structure of their savings group) meant to accumulate enough money to buy insurance on the next sales window. On each subsequent visit facilitators will provide general information on risk and risk-mitigation strategies, and specify the details of the insurance product being sold by Takaful Insurance of Africa (TIA), our partner insurance company. Groups in the control arm will be visited only twice (at the beginning and at the end of the intervention) and will be presented with the insurance product in its traditional ‘Livestock Framing’ version. Facilitators will not invite group members in the control arm to start an insurance-dedicated savings fund.
Additionally, all group members in both treatment and control arms will receive a subsidy covering a fraction of the price of the insurance product. On average 25% of women within each group will receive a ‘high’ subsidy covering 50% of the product’s total price, while the remaining 75% of group members will receive a ‘low’ subsidy covering 5% of the product’s price. The distribution of the subsidy coupons will be made at random during the facilitator’s first visit by drawing colored balls from a bag, so the actual share of high- and low-subsidy recipients in each group will vary randomly.
We expect this intervention to increase insurance uptake rates by women belonging to savings groups in the savings arm. We plan to further investigate the effect of the intervention on women’s business assets, income level, total savings, and food security status one season after the purchase of insurance, comparing these outcomes both across insured and uninsured individuals and across households in regions affected and unaffected by drought. Specifically, food security status will be measured using, i) the number of days in a week the household’s children skipped dinner, and ii) the number of times in a day during the past week where children ate a meal. Information on all of these outcomes will be collected during a baseline survey carried out between March and April 2023 and during an endline survey collected between January and February 2024. Both surveys will be collected from 5 women in each savings group, yielding a sample of 2,050 individuals.