Religious Leaders, Water Scarcity and Collective Adaptation: Evidence from Jordan

Last registered on July 26, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Religious Leaders, Water Scarcity and Collective Adaptation: Evidence from Jordan
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009731
Initial registration date
July 25, 2022

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
July 26, 2022, 2:00 PM EDT

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

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Brown University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2022-07-26
End date
2022-10-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
Climate change exerts an increasing toll on water supplies around the world, yet collective action problems prevent communities from adopting water conservation behaviors. This is especially relevant in low- and middle-income countries, where low-capacity governments are unwilling or unable to tax water to moderate the rate at which reserves decline. Although the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the world’s water scarcest region, several areas puzzlingly present some of the highest per capita water consumption rates in the world. While existing work in economics suggests credit constraints and imperfect information as explanations, social and cultural norms are receiving increasing attention as another factor that might affect decisions related to water use and foster conservative collective efforts (Krutilla, 1967; Allcott, 2011; Ferraro and Price,2013).
This project aims to understand if bottom-up engagement by local religious leaders and faith-based messages on water preservation can be an effective coordination device to induce communities to save water in low-capacity settings. More than 90% of inhabitants in MENA believe in Islam, which recognizes in water a central role for practice. Religious leaders may decrease believers' water usage by leveraging on their authority, adjusting religious practices (e.g. ablutions), or appealing to communitarian beliefs (e.g. brotherhood of men), etc.
The evaluation will be conducted through an RCT among Jordanian and refugee communities recruited at the mosque. We will select 20 female religious leaders (waithats) to organize two classes each of around 20/30 believers. For each waithat, we will randomly assign topics to the classes, stratifying by religious leader to guarantee that half of her classes belong to treatment and half to control. In treatment classes, subjects will attend a class on water conservation under religious perspective, where religious leaders will instruct believers on the importance of water and its preservation in Islam, as well as provide tips on how to save water in daily activities. The control group instead will attend a class on an unrelated religious topic, and receive an informative leaflet on water saving techniques to equalize the level of information between treated and control participants. We thus estimate a sample size of 800 to 1,200 individuals.
I will monitor the effect of the treatment both with surveys and real outcome measures, such as inspecting water bills, organizing dictator games to measure prosocial behavior, recording donations to a charity working on water issues, and consent to receive water-related information and services. I will also analyze potential mechanisms (e.g. authority, religious messages, etc.). Moreover, I will track the sharing of information in the social network of the participants, since a cultural message of this sort, being more understandable, might be easier to pass on, inducing possibly large network effects.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Buccione, Giulia. 2022. "Religious Leaders, Water Scarcity and Collective Adaptation: Evidence from Jordan ." AEA RCT Registry. July 26. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9731
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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
In Jordan, waithats, i.e. female religious leaders, organize short classes for women on religious topics. Taking advantage of this feature, in the experiment I will select 20 waithats to conduct two classes, one for the treatment and one for the control group:
- Treatment class: waithats conduct a class on the importance of water preservation under Islamic perspective. Indeed, water has a central role In Islam. Water is considered the foremost blessing of God, used for drinking and cultivation. Moreover, water is fundamental for the practice of the religion. Indeed, it is mandatory for a Muslim to reach a state of ritual purity through ablutions (wudu and ghusl) before the daily prayer (salat), which is one of the main pillars of Islam. Failing to perform ablutions invalidate prayers, which is exemplified in the hadith reciting “cleanliness is half of faith”. Also, prudence in using water is ordered by the Sharia, forbidding people to waste water even when practicing ablutions. In the class, the waithats will cover the following topics:
a. water-saving methods and why they are relevant in a religious perspective
b. religious practices involving water and how to make them water-efficient (e.g. correct behaviors in the mosque around water, ablutions, etc.)
c. role of water in Islam

- Control class: waithats conduct a class on another religious topic unrelated to water. For instance, fasting, being closely related to drinking, cannot be a topic for the control class.
Intervention Start Date
2022-07-26
Intervention End Date
2022-10-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Short-term outcomes: awareness of water-saving behaviors/methods; consent in participating to future events on water such as: classes on water-saving methods, water-saving devices, water charities; donation to charity protecting water; dictator game on water.

Long-term outcomes: adoption of water-saving behaviors/methods; water bill; water use.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We target Jordanian and refugee women residing in the governatorates of Amman, Irbid and Mafraq. In Jordan, waithats, i.e. female religious leaders, organize short classes for women on religious topics. They have well-established contacts' lists of interested women who they reach out to when organizing new cycles of classes. Thus, enrollment in the experiment will be conducted by 20 waithats, using their personal contacts' list of women to organize two classes each of around 20/30 believers. For each waithat, we will randomly assign topics to the classes. In treatment classes, subjects will attend a class on water conservation under religious perspective, where religious leaders will instruct believers on the importance of water and its preservation in Islam, as well as provide tips on how to save water in daily activities. The control group instead will attend a class on an unrelated religious topic, and receive an informative leaflet on water saving techniques to equalize the level of information between treated and control participants. The treatment class, and 20/30 to the control class. We thus estimate a sample size of 800 to 1,200 individuals.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Random number generator by computer
Randomization Unit
Cluster: class group. Each religious leader has at least two groups and the topic of the class is random for each group, stratifying so that each religious leader teaches both a control and a treatment class.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
40 classes
Sample size: planned number of observations
800 women
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
20 (classes) treatment, 20 (classes) control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Brown University IRB (Exempt)
IRB Approval Date
2022-06-15
IRB Approval Number
N/A