This intervention is designed to study the effectiveness of Catholic relief service’s governance training program (Treatment 1) on functioning of village development committees (VDCs) in Malawi. A second intervention (Treatment 2) will comple- ment the trainings with a distribution of uniforms to VDC members. The research teams assess the effect of Treatment 1 and Treatment 2 on a) VDC governance out- comes; b) members’ assessment of themselves and their performance; c) villagers’ perceptions of the VDC members and their performance.
This idea for the second treatment came directly from focus groups with village committee members during the needs assessment phase, in which the research team asked about things that would help with their job performance. Village Committee Members had cited as uniforms as items that could help them to better do their job. This prompted the research team to consider literature from political science that suggests that ”professional dress” could influence members’ self-assessments and constituents preferences.
In partnership with CRS, the research team used a list of 207 administrative units (GVHs) to implement a phased out stratified cluster randomized design. It assigned all GVHs participating in the CRS program into a Treatment 1, Treat- ment 2 and Control Groups. VDC members in Treatment 1 received the 1 day CRS governance training, while VDC members in Treatment 2 receive the training as well as a uniform (hat, badge, and shirt). VDC members in control villages do not receive any treatments before the endline is conducted (end of year 2017). The research team will use a series of longitudinal surveys (collected before and after the interventions) that target the following populations: VDC members, Other Com- mittee Members, villagers, and traditional leaders in the communities. In addition, the team will conduct a functionality assessment of VDC organization and perfor- mance during the endline. Finally, the endline will include an embedded survey experiment, in which villagers are randomly assigned to images of VDC members (male/female/uniform/no uniform) to further test the mechanisms that could drive Treatment 2.