Using Mobile Technology to Improve Early Childhood Development in Remote Areas: Evidence from Côte d’Ivoire
Last registered on May 01, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Using Mobile Technology to Improve Early Childhood Development in Remote Areas: Evidence from Côte d’Ivoire
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005746
Initial registration date
April 30, 2020
Last updated
May 01, 2020 3:34 PM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Paris School of Economics
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Innovation for Poverty Action
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2020-01-09
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In low-income and middle-income countries, 250 million children under 5 years of age are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential (Black et al., 2017). Among other key risk factors, low levels of cognitive stimulation, dietary deficiencies, chronic infections, and even excessive exposure to stress can affect the structure and functioning of the brain, and subsequent child development (Walker et al., 2011). Affected children are likely to do poorly in school and subsequently have low incomes, high fertility, and provide poor care for their children, thus contributing to the intergenerational transmission of poverty (Grantham-McGregor et al., 2007).

Effective investments in the development of a child in their first years (for instance, taking the forms of parenting support or preschool education programs) have the potential to set them on a trajectory towards a better equilibrium (Engle et al., 2011). For instance, Gertler et al. (2014) found that a parent-support intervention implemented in Jamaica had substantial long-term effects on participants’ earnings. The intervention consisted in weekly visits from community health workers over a 2-year period that taught parenting skills and encouraged mothers and children to interact in ways that develop cognitive and socioemotional skills. Yet, there are currently few tested models for taking early childhood interventions to scale and guidance remains limited for policymakers working on a limited budget.

In this study, we measure the impact of a mobile-based intervention, which has the advantages of being both cheap and easily scalable. The intervention is an information campaign which uses mobile technology to improve parenting behaviours and favour early childhood development (physical, socio-emotional, and language-cognitive development) for children aged 0-2 years. In total, series of (ten) mobile videos will be disseminated in different local languages using “SD cards” – memory cards used for file storage in mobile phones. The intervention exploits the high mobile penetration rates to reach the greatest numbers and the fact that, in West Africa, SD cards are a common way of sharing music.

The intervention will be implemented in villages located in the cocoa-farming regions of Côte d’Ivoire. As in many other countries in the region, enrolment rates in early childhood education programmes are low in Côte d’Ivoire (less than 10% for children aged 36-59 months), violent discipline the norm, and inadequate care very common (UNICEF, 2014). Cocoa farmers represent a particularly disadvantaged population: most of them are poor and live in work camps, which are isolated from the services and infrastructure that urban and peri-urban areas provide. As a consequence, children growing up in these areas often lack access to early learning and care.

We plan to measure the impact of the intervention using a randomized controlled trial as part of which 200 villages selected to take part in the experiment will be randomly allocated to either a treatment group or a control group. We will evaluate the impact of the intervention on parenting behaviors and child development outcomes
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Kembou, Samuel and Bastien Michel. 2020. "Using Mobile Technology to Improve Early Childhood Development in Remote Areas: Evidence from Côte d’Ivoire." AEA RCT Registry. May 01. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5746-1.0.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
In order to foster good parenting behaviours and favour early childhood development (physical, socio-emotional, and language-cognitive development) for children aged 0-2 years, a series of (ten) mobile videos will be produced by Development Media International (DMI). Videos will be translated in different local languages and shared with the populations on “SD cards” – memory cards used for file storage in mobile phones. In total 10,000 SD cards will be distributed in the study regions. SD cards will both be handed over directly to the respondents included in our sample and made available for free in various stocking points.

The intervention exploits the high mobile penetration rates in Côte d'Ivoire (113.32%) to reach the greatest numbers , as well as the fact that, in West Africa, SD cards are a common way of sharing music.
Intervention Start Date
2020-11-02
Intervention End Date
2021-02-28
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Parents' exposure to the intervention, opinions, and behaviours.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Child development
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
To measure child development, we will use the Caregiver Reported Early Development Instruments (CREDI), developed for 0-3 children and assessing ECD along five dimensions: cognition, language, motor, social-emotional, and mental health.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
1. Sampling strategy
We will measure the impact of the intervention using a sample of 200 villages located in Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa farming area – a particularly deprived region. More specifically, the following five districts will be concerned by the experiment: Bas-Sassandra, Gôh-Djiboua, Montages, Sassandra-Marahoué, and Yamoussoukro.

In selected villages, we will restrict our sample to households with children below the age of two – as they are the main target of the intervention. In each village, 15 households meeting the study inclusion criteria and accepting to answer our baseline questionnaire will be selected using a random walk method.

2. Identification strategy
In order to measure the causal impact of the intervention, we will randomly allocate the 200 villages included in our sample into the following two groups:
- Control group (100 villages): SD cards will neither be shared with the households nor stocked in distribution points;
- Treatment group (100 villages): SD cards will be handed over to selected households and stocked in distribution points.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Villages
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
200 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
3000 households - representing 15 households per village.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control group: 100 villages and 1500 households
Treatment group: 100 villages and 1500 households
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Paris School of Economics
IRB Approval Date
2019-10-28
IRB Approval Number
2019 020
IRB Name
Comité National d'Ethique des Sciences de la Vie et la Santé
IRB Approval Date
2019-11-21
IRB Approval Number
IRB000111917
IRB Name
INNOVATIONS FOR POVERTY ACTION IRB – USA
IRB Approval Date
2019-12-05
IRB Approval Number
14466