Poverty Alleviation and Support for Insurgency
Last registered on November 20, 2018


Trial Information
General Information
Poverty Alleviation and Support for Insurgency
Initial registration date
November 20, 2018
Last updated
November 20, 2018 4:06 PM EST
Primary Investigator
Princeton University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
This study assesses the effects, on support for the state and insurgency, of a project that aims at reducing poverty in rural Afghanistan. It is based on a randomized experiment through which ultra-poor households in a northern province of Afghanistan received productive assets and training to graduate out of poverty. The study looks at the effects of the intervention on satisfaction with the government, participation in elections and sympathy with insurgency.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Isaqzadeh, Mohammad. 2018. "Poverty Alleviation and Support for Insurgency ." AEA RCT Registry. November 20. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3575/history/37639
Experimental Details
The intervention was composed of the “Targeting the Ultra-poor” Program (TUP), a holistic package combining the transfer of a productive asset with structured training, mentoring, and a basic stipend for 12 months to help households break their poverty cycle. The original (TUP) graduation program was designed and implemented by BRAC in Bangladesh and has subsequently been promoted by CGAP and the Ford Foundation.

The program focuses particularly on ultra-poor women, who are able to manage an enterprise but have no productive assets in the household and are not connected to a microfinance institution. The Afghanistan TUP program is taking place in 6 provinces and the impact evaluation takes place in the Balkh province only. The intervention has been implemented by the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA), a government-donor supported organization through different NGOs in each province where the program operates. In the study villages, the implementation was conducted by the Coordination for Humanitarian Assistance (CHA).

To identify ultra-poor households, the program included a village- and household-level selection process. Program staff first qualitatively identified the poorest villages in the province subject to having availability of veterinary services, financial institutions and social services, and high population density. Once the villages were selected, a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) was conducted to identify poor households. This included a combination of a community poverty wealth ranking, followed by a verification of the poorest 20% based on this ranking. The verification was conducted by CHA through a short survey, and this was followed by a final verification by MISFA of the eligible households submitted by CHA. The final selection criteria for TUP beneficiaries was based on meeting at least three of the following six criteria checked during the verification:

(1) Household is dependent on female domestic work or begging;
(2) Household owns less than 20 decimals (1 biswa) of land or is living in a cave;
(3) Targeted female is 50 years old or younger;
(4) There are no active adult male income earners in the household;
(5) Children of school age are working for pay; and
(6) Household does not own any productive assets.

Once identified, the ultra-poor households received the various components of the program, which can be broadly categorized into the following:
1. The transfer of a productive asset in the form of livestock (e.g., cows, goats);
2. A monthly cash transfers/stipend (AFN 1,000 per month for 12 months);
3. A training focused on basic concepts of livestock rearing and entrepreneurship;
4. Fortnightly “mentoring visits” by social organizers, and vet services to:
a. Evaluate the asset and related outputs as well as to recommend follow-up actions. Depending on the evaluation of the asset, additional support in the form of food supplement or asset replacement were options for the program participants; and,
b. Promote activities encouraging improved behavior across a range of dimensions (health, education, female empowerment, financial inclusion, and social cohesion/community support).

A sequenced approach has been applied, which is informed by the original BRAC graduation model. The recipient receives support for their livelihood selection, which includes an intensive and repeated consultation between MISFA, the partner field staff and the ultra-poor household so that participants can make an informed choice from different enterprise options. The productive asset transfer is worth AFN 21,000 – 27,500 (approximately 330 - 450 USD). The consumption stipend aims to support the household with basic food needs, initially to replace the potential forgone income or productive time that the TUP recipient spends learning about and initiating their business rather than attending to their usual duties.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The main outcomes of interest for this study are support for the government and sympathy with insurgency as listed below:
1) Satisfaction with the government performance
2) Voter registration for 2018 parliamentary elections
3) sympathy with the main insurgent group in Afghanistan, the Taliban.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Satisfaction with the government will be measured using an index based on questions about the perception of government performance. The indicator for voter registration is built as the ratio of registered voters and total of number of eligible voters in a household. To reduce over-reporting bias, enumerators were asked to verify voter registration by checking the registration stamp on the back of national IDs. Sympathy with insurgents was measured using a novel way of measuring sympathy by measuring schadenfreude, which refers to pleasure at misfortune of other people. To obtain a benchmark of respondents’ feeling and reaction toward others’ misfortune, all respondents were asked how sad they felt in reaction to an unfortunate event affecting some villagers. Then we randomly administered among treatment and control groups two different versions of schadenfreude questions. In one version, the individuals and groups affected by an adverse event were identified as supporters or opponent of the main insurgent movement (the Taliban) while in the control version there were no references to the Taliban.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We use a household-level randomized experimental design to estimate the causal effect of the intervention on socioeconomic outcomes of ultra-poor households. The evaluation sample comes from four districts and 80 villages in Balkh province. The participatory wealth ranking was conducted in all villages of the Balkh province to identify the eligible population and collect baseline data on them before the public lottery took place. Larger villages were split into multiple PRA groups (133 in total), The randomization was stratified by PRA by holding separate lotteries for each PRA group. 1,219 ultra-poor households were randomly assigned into one treatment group (491 households) and one control group (728 households). The treatment group received the intervention package as described in the intervention and the control group does not receive any of the components. We will estimate the impact of the program on ultra-poor households, comparing the treatment and control group.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Public lottery. The names of the ultra-poor household that received the intervention were drawn from a bin.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,219 ultra-poor households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1,219 ultra-poor households
491 ultra-poor households in the treatment group
728 ultra-poor households in the control group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
IRB Princeton University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers