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  • LocationsGhana, Kenya, Tanzania
  • SectorSocial protection
  • Type of investmentGrant
  • Project stageTest & Transition

A $2.2m grant to ideas42 to design, implement, and test ‘nudges’ to encourage recipients of cash transfers in Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania to invest more in the early childhood development of their children. The grant will also be used to support country governments and the World Bank to look at ways of integrating nudges into government programmes.


The development problem

Almost every developing country has a diverse set of safety net programs and other social protection measures, and these often include conditional and unconditional cash transfers. The World Bank estimates that each year, safety net programs in developing countries lift an estimated 69 million people living in absolute poverty and uplifting some 97 million people from the bottom 20 percent – a substantial contribution in the global fight against poverty.

Early childhood- and productive inclusion-focused cash transfers in particular have demonstrated success in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, and in recent years, the adoption of programmes like this by governments across the developing world has led to a search for ways of making them more cost-effective.

While countries have designed cash transfer programmes in different ways, these programmes still do not account adequately for the recent body of research that shows that understanding of psychology and other social science disciplines can inform the effectiveness of government programmes.

Applying insights from the growing literature on behavioural science, for instance, has the potential to bring about significant additional cost-effective impact by minor adjustments to programme features to “nudge” beneficiaries on their decisions and actions.

The innovation

The innovation has two key aspects:

Specific nudges incorporated into CT programs. Although the exact ‘nudges’ that will be applied in each country are yet to be identified, the ideas42 team will analyse the each country’s cash transfer programme to define problems, diagnose the behavioural constraints, and design/test/scale solutions that are likely to include framing or labelling, timing, goal-setting and plan-making. The impact of these nudges will be rigorously evaluated and findings will be disseminated to the World Bank, country governments and other stakeholders as well as add to the evidence base for the effectiveness of nudges in CT programs.

A problem-driven process to generate nudges. Even more important than the specific nudges that will be tested, is the process to create those nudges and ensure they are adopted by WB Social Protection teams and government departments. With this in mind, ideas42 will develop a strategy that sets out the adoption process for governments through clear, precise, and simple steps.

GIF's investment

The objectives of GIF support are:

Testing the cost-effectiveness of incorporating nudges into cash transfer programmes (CTPs) and thereby enabling adoption in CTPs in at least two Participating Countries;

Documenting in an easy-to-use toolkit(s) with simple visuals the operational details of problem-driven process (define, diagnose, design) for the design of nudges in CTPs;

Helping build capacity and support through constant engagement during the implementation of this process and its scale-up within departments of the World Bank, the global cash transfer community of practice, and the respective country governments; and

Diffusing the evidence on the cost-effectiveness of behavioural nudges and the process for incorporating nudges into government programmes, and mobilising support for scale-up among the widest possible spectrum of practitioners in the World Bank and country governments.

Why we invested

  • An innovative idea on maximising the effectiveness of a major source of development spending.
  • The potential for additional impact of programmes proven to benefit millions of poor people.
  • Cost-effectiveness – with behavioural nudges, it is possible to generate disproportionately higher impact outcomes.
  • A direct route to scale through partnership with the World Bank, which offers the ability to integrate interventions into existing large-scale social assistance programmes.
  • Strong commitment to generating and disseminating evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of the innovation.
  • A strong and credible team, with expertise in integrating behavioural interventions into development programmes.
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