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Community Reconciliation in Sierra Leone
Last registered on December 19, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Community Reconciliation in Sierra Leone
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001439
Initial registration date
December 19, 2016
Last updated
December 19, 2016 7:03 AM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy
PI Affiliation
World Bank
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2011-01-01
End date
2014-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Civil wars divide nations along social, economic, and political cleavages, often pitting one neighbor against another. To restore social cohesion, many countries undertake truth and reconciliation efforts. We examined the consequences of one such effort in Sierra Leone, designed and implemented by a Sierra Leonean nongovernmental organization called Fambul Tok. As a part of this effort, community-level forums are set up in which victims detail war atrocities, and perpetrators confess to war crimes. We used random assignment to study its impact across 200 villages, drawing on data from 2383 individuals. We found that reconciliation had both positive and negative consequences. It led to greater forgiveness of perpetrators and strengthened social capital: Social networks were larger, and people contributed more to public goods in treated villages. However, these benefits came at a substantial cost: The reconciliation treatment also worsened psychological health, increasing depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder in these same villages. For a subset of villages, we measured outcomes both 9 months and 31 months after the intervention. These results show that the effects, both positive and negative, persisted into the longer time horizon. Our findings suggest that policy-makers need to restructure reconciliation processes in ways that reduce their negative psychological costs while retaining their positive societal benefits.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
CILLIERS, Jacobus, Oeindrila Dube and Bilial Siddiqi. 2016. "Community Reconciliation in Sierra Leone." AEA RCT Registry. December 19. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1439-1.0.
Former Citation
CILLIERS, Jacobus et al. 2016. "Community Reconciliation in Sierra Leone." AEA RCT Registry. December 19. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1439/history/12629.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2011-01-01
Intervention End Date
2014-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
(Each outcome listed here was measured using several variables corresponding to indices and survey questions)

(1) The impact of reconciliation on forgiveness and trust

(2) Reconciliation and social networks

(3) Reconciliation and participation in community groups

(4) Reconciliation and contributions to public goods

(5) Reconciliation and psychological well-being

(6) Persistence of effects
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
A randomized control trial was conducted of a reconciliation process in Sierra Leone that was designed and implemented by a Sierra Leonean non-governmental organization called Fambul Tok. In 2011, when Fambul Tok was poised to expand into new sections in its five districts of operation, random assignment was used to assign some sections to the Fambul Tok treatment group and other sections to serve as part of the control group. The evaluation occurred in waves so as to allow Fambul tok to work within its capacity. The first wave included 40 sections, and the second wave included 60 sections. In wave one, endline surveys were conducted both 9 months and 31 months after the ceremonies took place in order to determine short-run and long-run effects. In wave two, endline surveys were conducted once, 18 to 19 months after the ceremonies.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Within each section, two villages were sampled: one was the section headquarters, where the reconciliation ceremony was typically held, and the second was randomly chosen among what was on average nine remaining villages. Within each village, a random sample of 10-12 adults were interviewed, for a total of 2383 respondents across 200 villages.
Randomization Unit
sections (an administrative unit in Sierra Leone)
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
100 sections
Sample size: planned number of observations
2,383 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
(see Randomization Method)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action
IRB Approval Date
2011-02-01
IRB Approval Number
(Protocol 534.11February002)
IRB Name
New York University
IRB Approval Date
2011-02-01
IRB Approval Number
(HS# 11-8528; IRB#: 14-9936)
IRB Name
Oxford University
IRB Approval Date
2011-02-01
IRB Approval Number
(ref. SSD/CUREC1/11‐028)
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
December 31, 2014, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
December 31, 2014, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Clustered RCT - 50 treatment and 50 control sections.
We sampled two villages in each section, and randomly sampled 12 individuals in each village.
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
The attrition rate of those who appeared in
baseline but are missing from either endline round
in wave one or the endline in wave two is 13% (315
out of 2382 individuals), and the attrition rate for
those missing from both endline rounds in wave
one or the endline in wave two is 7% (168 of 2382
individuals)
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
N/A
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Yes
Program Files
Program Files
Yes
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
Abstract
Civil wars divide nations along social, economic, and political cleavages, often pitting one neighbor against another. To restore social cohesion, many countries undertake truth and reconciliation efforts. We examined the consequences of one such effort in Sierra Leone, designed and implemented by a Sierra Leonean nongovernmental organization called Fambul Tok. As a part of this effort, community-level forums are set up in which victims detail war atrocities, and perpetrators confess to war crimes. We used random assignment to study its impact across 200 villages, drawing on data from 2383 individuals. We found that reconciliation had both positive and negative consequences. It led to greater forgiveness of perpetrators and strengthened social capital: Social networks were larger, and people contributed more to public goods in treated villages. However, these benefits came at a substantial cost: The reconciliation treatment also worsened psychological health, increasing depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder in these same villages. For a subset of villages, we measured outcomes both 9 months and 31 months after the intervention. These results show that the effects, both positive and negative, persisted into the longer time horizon. Our findings suggest that policy-makers need to restructure reconciliation processes in ways that reduce their negative psychological costs while retaining their positive societal benefits.
Citation
"Reconciliation in Sierra Leone" Science vol.352. May 2016
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS