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Showing posts from October, 2013

India's Invisible Population

We feature an article published in The Hindu on the work done by Transparent Chennai, which is a part of the Centre for Development Finance (CDF). 

Denying basic amenities to residents of ‘unrecognised’ slums is an affront to their dignity; resettling them fails to address their concerns and is unviable financially Since 2005, the Central government has given significant amounts of money to the States to improve conditions for the country’s urban poor, first under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and more recently through the slow-moving Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY). Unfortunately, very few studies have looked at how effective these programmes have been in achieving their objectives. Our research in Chennai suggests that money from the JNNURM did not effectively address the needs of the city’s most vulnerable residents. How could this happen in a programme explicitly designed for this purpose, and in a State known for its generosity to the poor? This is because …

Impact of Access to Finance: Network Level Effects

KGFS Harvest Diary: Lessons From the Field

We continue our feature of the KGFS Impact Evaluation and follow from our  previous post, which mentioned how KGFS researchers are customizing a harvest diary suited to the needs of the project.
In the last post on Designing a Harvest Diary, we shared a few valuable lessons we have been able to learn upon its implementation. As of now, the harvest diary has been administered to farmers in our pilot and will be maintained by them till January 2014. We will thus only be able to completely assess its performance and data usability at the end of the season. However, we have learnt a lot of valuable lessons already.
Overall, the response we’ve received from farmers has been good, but the utility of the diary seems to be much greater for educated farmers than uneducated ones. We found that even though farmers were literate and could keep track of their expenses in the manner we required, they often just had a mind block towards writing and chose to rely either on our surveyors making revisi…

Designing a Harvest Diary

The Challenges in Collecting Self-Reported Agricultural Data

Some of the greatest challenges that we encounter as researchers involved in primary data collection lie in tackling inherent biases in self-reported data such as respondent bias, enumerator bias, and recall bias. This blog series deals with one of the ways in which we, at the KGFS study are exploring the potential to reduce such bias by utilizing creative survey instruments and design. One of the more particular objectives of our project aims to evaluate the impact of access to finance on agricultural practices and identify robust methods of collecting self-reported data on agricultural input usage in order to do so. 
Unbiased information on agricultural practices throughout a cropping season is crucial for analyzing their effect on more objective outcomes such as yield or crop forecasts and making comparisons across farmers, as well as for recommending the right interventions. Collecting such information from farmers if often a tricky task due to the following reasons: Non-availabil…

Strands of Data - Understanding the Impact of Financial Access on Stress

On discussing the impact of financial access, I can think of few questions more important than whether and how financial access affects stress. Does a life insurance policy let you sleep easier, knowing that if your husband dies, at least your family will be financially secure? Or does the expense strain your budget too far? Does a safe, secure place to save your money ease your fears about the future? Or does it create tension over how much to put away? Does taking out loans ease the burden of managing day-to-day finances? Or does having debt, in and of itself, merely overwhelm you with the stress of repayment? Answering these questions is paramount to understanding the impact of finance, to understanding whether it is a force for good in the lives of India’s rural citizens.
Research has shown that stress is not just an abstract negative. Stress affects mental, physical and emotional health – and financial stress is no exception. See, for examples, here and here. If we want to under…

Blogpost Series on KGFS

Dear readers,

Starting from tomorrow, we plan to publish a series of blogs on the Centre for Microfinance's KGFS impact evaluation

Here's a project summary: Together with partner organization IFMR Rural Channels, a rural financial services provider with presence in Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Uttarakhand, researchers aim to gain an in-depth understanding of the impact of provision of financial services, as delivered through the KGFS model, in rural Tamil Nadu. The KGFS model, developed and supported by IFMR Rural Finance, focuses on high quality origination through geographically-focused community financial institutions. It provides access to a broad range of products including (but not limited to) loans, savings, insurance and investment options to households using a customized wealth management approach focused on ensuring the suitability of products sold to each household’s unique financial situation.
Researchers will use a randomized controlled trial (RCT) approach that is bui…

Procedures and Suggestions for Field-based Surveying