Estimates of NSP Impact (Report | Table)
The NSP-IE estimates the impacts of the program on outcomes spanning five groups: access to utilities, services and infrastructure; economic welfare; local governance; political attitudes and state-building; and social norms.
The sections below summarize the findings presented in the Final Report. The results of hypotheses tests performed by the study are also summarized in this table and the graph below depicts impacts of NSP that were identified by the study.
Access to Utilities, Services and Infrastructure
NSP-funded drinking water projects increase access to clean drinking water and NSP-funded electricity projects are similarly successful. However, NSP-funded irrigation projects do not impact whether land-holding villagers can access sufficient irrigation and endline results are suggestive of limited durable impacts of NSP-funded transportation projects. While NSP does not fund school construction or health interventions, NSP increases girls' (but not boys') school attendance and increases child doctor and prenatal visits and the probability that an illness or injury is attended to by a medical professional.
NSP improves economic perceptions, particularly among women. However, impacts on objective economic measures are more limited. While NSP induces small increases at midline in the diversity of income sources and in caloric intake, these impacts do not persist beyond project completion. There is no conclusive evidence that NSP affects household income levels, income regularity, food or non-food consumption, assets, or food insecurity. Likewise, NSP does not affect agricultural yields, productivity, or harvests sales, but induces a fleeting increase in agricultural sales revenue. While NSP increases handicraft sales and sales revenue at midline, these impacts are not durable. NSP, however, reduces out-migration from villages at both midline and endline.
NSP substantially increases the representation of women in local governance. However, NSP does not introduce new leaders into the core group of village decision-makers or reduce the primacy of customary titles for such decision-makers. NSP increases the provision of key local governance services at midline for male villagers and at both points for female villagers. At midline, NSP increases villager participation in meetings of local representative assemblies, but the effect disappears by endline. At endline, male villagers are less likely to express confidence in local leaders and are more likely to complain about unacceptable behavior by such leaders. While NSP improves female perceptions of local leaders at midline, the effect does not persist.
Political Attitudes and State-Building
NSP increases participation by male and female villagers in national elections and also results in a durable increase in the proportion of male villagers who prefer that village headmen are elected, but does not affect views on participatory decision-making procedures or constitutional issues. Likewise, NSP has no impact on subjective measures of state-building, such as whether villagers accept the jurisdiction of the central government or prioritize national unity over tribal affiliations. At midline, NSP improves perceptions of a wide-range of government entities, from the President to government judges, but most effects are not present at endline. NSP does not impact the likelihood of villages suffering violent attacks (at least according to survey responses – for an analysis of third-party data, see here), but does improve perceptions of local security among both male and female villagers at midline and among male villagers at endline.
During project implementation, NSP increases both disputes among villagers and interpersonal trust among villagers, although both effects are reversed by endline. NSP has no effect on the level of happiness reported by male villagers, but reduces the proportion of female villagers who are unhappy. NSP increases men's openness to female electoral participation, political candidacy by women, women working with the government and/or NGOs, female membership of village councils, and female involvement in the selection of the village headman. This change in attitudes also affects outcomes, with NSP increasing the participation of women in dispute mediation and aid allocation decisions and increasing female inter-village mobility. However, NSP does not impact female intra-village mobility, female socialization, or female participation in economic activity or household decision-making.
NSP-funded utilities projects deliver improvements in access to drinking water and electricity, but NSP-funded infrastructure projects are less effective. While NSP has limited impacts on long-term economic outcomes, project implementation delivers a short-term economic boost that improves perceptions of governments. However, this 'political stimulus' weakens considerably following project completion, which suggests that government legitimacy is dependent on the regular provision of public goods and/or interaction with service providers.
The creation of Community Development Councils (CDCs) by NSP has few durable impacts on the identity, affiliation, or authority of de facto village leaders or the provision of local governance services to male villagers. In fact, NSP worsens perceptions by male villagers of local governance quality at endline. Complementary evidence from the Wheat Distribution Experiment indicates this is likely caused by the diffusion of institutional accountability due to the parallel co-existence of CDCs with customary authorities.
The mandating of female participation by NSP results in increased male acceptance of female participation in public life and broad-based improvements in women's lives, encompassing increases in participation in local governance, access to counseling, and mobility. These and other economic, institutional, and social impacts of NSP further drive increases in girls' school attendance and in women's access to medical services, as well as improved economic perceptions and optimism among women.