Behavioral Designs for the Urban Productive Safety Net Program (UPSNP) - Ethiopia

Last registered on January 22, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Behavioral Designs for the Urban Productive Safety Net Program (UPSNP) - Ethiopia
Initial registration date
October 20, 2021

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 21, 2021, 11:56 AM EDT

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

Last updated
January 22, 2024, 5:04 PM EST

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



Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Social protection programs are expanding across the world, and face greater demand for delivering public value at a reasonable cost. There is evidence that insights from behavioral science- the science of how humans make decisions and take actions- can be used to achieve these objectives. ideas42, the World Bank, and the government of Ethiopia have been working together to enhance the effectiveness of the Urban Productive Safety Net Project (UPSNP) through a process of design, testing, and analysis. UPSNP was created to improve the income of targeted vulnerable households and establish urban safety net mechanisms. Research from the field of behavioral science along with a process of user-testing and iteration were used to design context-specific packages of interventions to increase the impact of the program on beneficiary outcomes. Specifically, the interventions are aimed at aiding beneficiaries to translate their intention of starting/expanding a business into a reality by completing the preparatory steps needed to start/expand a business in a timely manner. The upcoming RCT will survey about 1600 individuals across 5 kebeles in Ethiopia's city of Adama at baseline and again 6 months later during a follow-up to estimate if light-touch, low-cost interventions can improve short-term outcomes that may lead to more productive investments and better economic well-being in the long term.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Aryee, Lois and Mukta Joshi. 2024. "Behavioral Designs for the Urban Productive Safety Net Program (UPSNP) - Ethiopia." AEA RCT Registry. January 22.
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Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Do beneficiaries feel a sense of agency
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Self-affirmation & agency:
• % reporting confidence in ability to start/expand business within the duration of the UPSNP program;
• % reporting various expectations of government support during and after program (e.g. help finding workplace, training, etc.);
• % reporting that beneficiaries have various responsibilities (e.g. attend training, work hard, etc.)

Steps taken to start/expand business:
• % reporting having decided which business to invest business grant to;
• % reporting wanted to invest into different types of business (e.g. selling food, tailoring, livestock farming, etc.);
• % that report various processes for selecting business choices (e.g. Seen others do the same business, experience working in business, having required skills, observed demand for product/service, etc.);
• % reporting various factors that they believe are important to consider when choosing a business (e.g. experience, skills, advice of others, etc.);
• % reporting various ways to respond to gaps in business preparedness (e.g. choose a different business, learn the needed skills, do nothing);
• % reporting having attended the government business training;
• % who believe the best time to start preparing towards business is before receiving grant vs. % that believe the best time to start preparing is after receiving grant;
• % that believe that there are things they can do to start preparing for the business vs. % that believe that they can do nothing but wait to receive the grant;
• % that are taking steps to prepare for their businesses while they wait to receive their grant;
• Number of hours spent preparing towards starting business;
• % reporting various challenges faced in preparing towards starting business (e.g. not having enough time, insufficient funds, etc.);
• % reporting having secured a workplace for business;
• % reporting having identified potential customers for business;
• % reporting having developed a plan for reaching potential customers;
• % reporting having determined price of goods/services

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The evaluation will be done through an individual randomized controlled test (RCT) in which the treatment group will receive the full intervention package while the control group will receive no intervention.
As part of the UPSNP public works program, beneficiaries participate in business training sessions in the second year of the program. These training sessions occur at the woreda or kebele level in each city. Before the business training begins, a local research firm called Laterite will conduct a baseline training of the treatment and control groups. After the baseline data collection, beneficiaries will be randomized into treatment and control groups, making sure the sample is balanced on key demographic and socio-economic criteria. After the business training, treatment group beneficiaries (800) will be invited to the TVET training center to receive the behavioral interventions. The interventions will be delivered in small groups of 25-30, in keeping with the government training protocols as well as to ensure that safety precautions (sanitizers, mask wearing, and social distancing) are taken against any possible risks of COVID-19 infections.
Data Collection: Data collection will occur at two stages.
• Baseline survey data will be collected before the intervention.
• Endline survey data will be completed four to six months after the delivery of the intervention.

Methodology: Data collection will be done by direct interview of beneficiaries on the basis of a standard and pre-coded survey. The surveyors will use tablet computers (electronic questionnaire) instead of a traditional paper questionnaire and data will be collected using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) software, specifically SurveyCTO. Data collection will happen at the public works sites in Adama. Local woreda staff and beneficiaries will be informed ahead of time about the data collection that is to take place at the selected site through in person visits and phone calls. On average, the duration of the in-person survey collection is estimated at 20 minutes. A trained enumerator from the hired local survey firm, Laterite, will ask the questions on the survey, prompt oral responses from the participant, and collect the responses on the tablet. The modules in the survey will include:
• Individual & household demographic information
• Employment details
• Steps taken to start or expand business
• Response to intervention (for treatment subjects only at endline)
• Additional questions for gauging potential spillover effects

Location: The interventions will be conducted in Adama, Ethiopia. Adama is a representative city that is easy to access as well as has high implementation feasibility.

Beneficiaries who are already in the UPSNP will be randomly divided into treatment and control groups. Random selection will be conducted using a statistical software such as STATA, based on a list of beneficiaries obtained from the government. Only beneficiaries who are selected into the treatment group will be invited to participate in the behavioral intervention. The interventions in the study will be delivered in classrooms at the TVET center in Adama, which is where the government typically organizes training for beneficiaries. Both treatment and control groups, however, will be interviewed at the baseline and endline. Baseline and endline interviews will be conducted at the public work site where beneficiaries gather to work on their assigned community projects.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization will be conducted using a statistical software program called STATA
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
The randomization will not be clustered. The sample size is 1,600 UPSNP beneficiaries
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,600 UPSNP beneficiaries
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
800 treatment, 800 control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Using the conservative base rate estimate of 0.5, we calculated the minimum detectable effect of .07 (power=.80, alpha=.05) with a sample size of 1,600.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Ethiopian Society of Sociologists, Social Workers and Anthropologists (ESSSWA)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
March 31, 2022, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
September 02, 2022, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
2,129 individuals
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
1,063 individuals in treatment, 1,066 individuals in control
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials