At a Glance
Millennium Challenge Corporation
Project Time Frame:
Niger: Impact Evaluation Design and Implementation Services
As part of the Millennium Challenge Corporation's (MCC) mandate to reduce poverty through economic growth, its threshold programs assist countries that are on the “threshold” of eligibility for large-scale Millennium Challenge Account grants, or compacts. Threshold program assistance helps countries address areas for improvement indicated by their scores on 17 policy indicators in three categories—ruling justly, investing in people, and encouraging economic freedom.
MCC sponsored the threshold program in Niger, which was intended to reduce corruption; register more businesses; promote land titling; and increase girls’ school enrollment, attendance, and completion rates. This ambitious effort involved training civil servants to conduct audits and handle public procurement projects, establishing “one-stop centers” to provide technical assistance to businesses, developing awareness-raising campaigns to encourage communities to take advantage of land reform, and constructing schools.
Mathematica was chosen to design and conduct a rigorous evaluation of these activities to determine their ultimate impact on both intermediate and long-term outcomes. In December 2009, MCC suspended the Niger threshold program in the midst of implementation due to undemocratic actions undertaken by the government. While most of the components were not sufficiently implemented to allow for a rigorous evaluation of their intended impacts, the girls’ education project had been substantially implemented by that time and was suitable for evaluation.
The evaluation attempted to answer the following research questions:
Mathematica used a random assignment research design to estimate the impact of the package of interventions and conducted an independent data collection by surveying households and schools on education in villages throughout the country. The design compared the treatment villages to the control villages that were not selected for interventions. Mathematica oversaw data collection in 181 villages throughout Niger and administered surveys to 6,971 households and 16,351 primary-school-aged children.
Overall, the evaluation revealed that the IMAGINE program increased enrollment but had little impact on attendance or test scores. The program impacts were generally larger for girls than for boys. For girls, the program had an 8 percentage point positive impact on enrollment and a 5.4 percentage point impact on attendance. The program had no impact on girls' math scores, though there is suggestive evidence it may have had a positive impact of 0.09 standard deviations on girls' French test scores. No significant impacts were detected for boys' enrollment, attendance, or test scores. Finally, impacts were larger for younger children (ages 7-10), than for those between the ages of 10 and 12.
"Impact Evaluation of Niger's IMAGINE Program" (September 2011)