Supporting Women's Livelihoods (SWL) in Zambia

Last registered on December 17, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Supporting Women's Livelihoods (SWL) in Zambia
Initial registration date
October 28, 2018

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
October 29, 2018, 5:17 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
December 17, 2020, 1:03 PM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


Primary Investigator

World Bank

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The need for cost-effective government interventions to alleviate poverty and economic exclusion is acute in sub-Saharan Africa where recent economic growth has not led to broad-based, inclusive development. In Zambia, the government has launched a new initiative to assist women from the poorest households to improve the productivity of their livelihood activities and lead their households out of poverty. The Supporting Women’s Livelihood (SWL) initiative provides a one-off infusion of human, financial, and social capital that combines skills training, a cash grant of US$ 225, group mentoring, and support to form savings groups. Over the course of three years, the intervention is expected to reach 75,000 adult female participants living in half the districts of Zambia.

The impact evaluation will test different variations of the comprehensive package of SWL interventions building upon the “graduation approach” popularized by a recent six-country study conducted by Banerjee (2015a). Moreover, the SWL evaluation will determine the effectiveness of the approach when implemented at scale by the government. It will also measure spillovers and general equilibrium effects at the community level. The impact evaluation will, therefore, fill critical knowledge gaps on productive safety nets and women’s economic empowerment, and also provide practical insights for policymakers seeking a parsimonious program that limits costs and implementation complexity while achieving measurable welfare impacts.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Botea, Ioana et al. 2020. "Supporting Women's Livelihoods (SWL) in Zambia." AEA RCT Registry. December 17.
Former Citation
Botea, Ioana et al. 2020. "Supporting Women's Livelihoods (SWL) in Zambia." AEA RCT Registry. December 17.
Sponsors & Partners

There is information in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access.

Request Information
Experimental Details


The Supporting Women’s Livelihoods (SWL) is implemented by the Government of Zambia’s Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) with funding and technical assistance from the World Bank. It aims to support poor women’s livelihood productivity and economic empowerment. The intervention was designed based on growing international evidence that multi-faceted interventions can effectively help beneficiaries transition to more secure livelihoods and graduate from poverty.

Each SWL beneficiary will receive a mix of the following interventions: (i) Short-term life and business skills training, provided by community volunteers; (ii) A productivity grant of ZMW 2,000 (US$ 225), delivered in two installments; (iii) Voluntary and self-selected savings and loan groups, open to all women from the community; (iv) Follow-up support, including refresher training and linkages to other public services, offered just after weekly savings group meetings for another 6 months.

In a subset of impact evaluation communities, beneficiaries will also be offered consumption support in the form of a monthly cash transfer for 3 months before and 3 months after the SWL training.

Over the course of the intervention, the SWL is expected to reach approximately 75,000 female breadwinners aged 19 to 64 living in extremely poor households. These women are selected through a three-step targeting mechanism, which includes participatory wealth ranking, self-registration, and community validation. Beneficiary-selection lotteries are conducted in communities where the number eligible women exceeds the number of places available.

The SWL is implemented in select communities in 53 out of 103 districts in Zambia and rolled out in three phases from 2017 to 2020. The impact evaluation is implemented in ten districts in Phase 2, after the intervention has been piloted and refined during Phase 1.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Consumption: per capita measures of food, non-food, and durable good consumption; Income and Revenues: all income, including employment, business, and transfer income; Resilience: incidence and response to shocks; preparation for seasonal variations in income; Assets: ownership and value of household and productive assets; Finance: borrowing, lending, and savings; Spillovers: wages and prices at the community level, income and consumption of non-selected peers
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Socio-emotional skills: entrepreneurial aptitude, self-esteem; Empowerment: control over household resources, bargaining power, autonomy; Networks and social support: access to emergency support, business and employment contacts; Time use: time spent on agriculture, in employment, in other productive activities
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The SWL intervention will be evaluated using a randomized controlled trial (RCT), for which there is strong government support. The random assignment will be conducted at the community level, meaning that some communities will be randomly chosen to receive the SWL intervention, comprising the “treatment” group, while other communities (the “control” group) will not. On top of the community-level randomization of which intervention package is offered, we will layer an individual-level randomization to select beneficiaries in each community. This method will to enable the measurement of impacts on beneficiaries as well as general equilibrium and distributional effects.

Treatment arms:
1. Full package: Training + mentorship + grant + savings
2. Full package plus cash: Training + mentorship + grant + savings + consumption support
3. Human capital package only: Training + mentorship
4. Financial Capital package only: Grant + savings
5. Control

The choice of these treatment arms aims to test whether relaxing human or financial constraints is more effective at boosting productivity for poor women in rural area. By comparing the Grant + Savings program to the control group, we will see the potential positive impact of a financially focused intervention alone (although this treatment also contains some social capital, given the group nature of the savings groups). By comparing the Training + Mentorship arm to the control group, we can measure the impact of human and social capital without a transfer of financial assets (and see whether effective mentorship can be carried out at the group level). Although the evaluation will not be able to formally distinguish the effects of the group mentorship from the linkages to public services, the survey instruments will collect detailed information about the relative take-up of these services to shed some light on their relative impact. Finally, by comparing each to the full combined intervention, we can see to what extent financial and human capital complement one another, and what the marginal benefit of each component is relative to its financial cost.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Two-stage randomization:
- Community-level randomization into treatment arms is conducted using Stata, among Phase 2 communities selected through public lotteries;
- Individual-level randomization to select beneficiaries is done through public lotteries.
Randomization Unit
Cluster randomization: CWACs (Community Welfare Assistance Committees), commonly referred to as "communities" and comprised of either a large village or a group of smaller villages; Individual-level randomization: women eligible for SWL, randomly selected within CWACs to enable the measurement of spillovers
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
300 CWACs
Sample size: planned number of observations
7,200 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
60 communities across the 5 treatment arms (298 communities total)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
ERES Converge
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

There is information in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access.

Request Information


Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials