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News & Events 2005

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News & Events 2005

December 2005/January 2006 Update

Practicality: The second training session for practicality test grantees was held in Washington from December 5 to 9. Originally scheduled for mid-October, this session was postponed to ensure compliance with new regulations on visas for training participants. Representatives from ten practitioner organizations from Bosnia, Cambodia, Croatia, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Tanzania were in attendance to learn how to implement the poverty assessment tools and to gauge their practicality. Topics included: logistical and staffing preparations, sampling and survey techniques, use and adaptation of the tool, and procedures for reporting back on the practicality of that tool. The participants also familiarized themselves with the gender implications of poverty assessment, trained on the use of focus group discussions to elicit feedback from their implementation team, practiced using the Epi Info software for data entry and analysis, and prepared implementation plans for the testing in their own countries. Each organization was provided with a template created with the Epi Info software and specifically programmed to use in entering and analyzing the survey responses for the particular tool they are testing. Final reports are expected by April 2006. The following week in December, a member of the IRIS team visited two of the practicality test grantees in Peru in order to interview the implementation team from each organization and get detailed feedback about the process. In January, visits were made to practicality test grantees in Bosnia, Croatia, and El Salvador. Additional field debriefing trips by the IRIS team will take place in Asia and Africa, during February and March of 2006. Accuracy: Work continued on constructing and testing two international tools to determine the accuracy implications of trying to bridge the results from 11 countries from the project sample: the first tool for countries with poverty prevalence less than 20 percent; the second tool for countries with poverty prevalance greater than 20 percent. In each country, the results from the applicable international tool are being compared to those from a tool with indicators and weights specific to that country. This will indicate the loss in accuracy that results from using an international tool as opposed a country-specific tool. Preliminary results show that country-specific tools tend to be much more accurate than the two international tools. The complete results, and their implications, will soon be made available on this web site. Additional explanations on how the $1 per day calculations are adapted to each country are now available in the FAQ section of the site. The SEEP Poverty Outreach Working Group (POWG) met on Thursday, January 12th. At this meeting, the IRIS team presented the latest in terms of the accuracy tests results, including the work being done to test the accuracy of two ‘international tools’. POWG members also learned about the practicality test trainings that took place in September and December, the practicality testing currently being done by 14 organizations, as well as the challenges still faced in certifying and implementing the poverty assessment tools.


October/November 2005 Update

Practicality: In October and November the IRIS team worked with the first group of practicality test grantees (those trained in Washington in September) to finalize their implementation plans, adapt the surveys to their context and begin to implement the field test. Lessons learned from this process were incorporated into the training materials to be used for the second practicality test training. The second training session for the remaining practicality test grantees will be held December 5 to 9. Originally scheduled for mid-October, this session was postponed to ensure compliance with new regulations on visas for training participants. Representatives from eight practitioner organizations from Bosnia, Cambodia, Croatia, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania will attend to learn how to implement poverty assessment tools and to gauge their practicality. Topics include: logistical and staffing preparations, sampling and survey techniques, use and adaptation of the tool, and procedures for reporting back on the practicality of that tool. Each organization is being provided with a template created with the Epi Info software and specifically programmed to use in entering and analyzing the survey responses for the particular tool they are testing.

Accuracy: Final edited reports for Bangladesh and Uganda , two of the four field test countries, are now available on the website at here. They include additional results from the two-step method estimation technique, which is designed to boost poverty accuracy. The IRIS team is also constructing two international tools to determine the accuracy implications of trying to bridge the results from 11 countries from the project sample: the first tool for countries with poverty prevalence less than 20 percent; the second tool for countries with poverty prevalance greater than 20 percent. In each country, the results from the applicable international tool will be compared to those from a tool with indicators and weights specific to that country. This will indicate the loss in accuracy that results from using an international tool as opposed a country-specific tool.


August/September 2005 Update

Practicality: In August and September the IRIS team developed six survey questionnaire tools for practicality testing.  The questionnaires were developed from a list of best indicators that emerged from accuracy testing in four field test and eight LSMS countries.  These questionnaires were designed so that each indicator would be tested at a minimum of three implementation sites for geographical and cultural diversity. The first training session for practicality test grantees was held in Washington from September 12 to 16. Representatives from six practitioner organizations from Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Peru, Senegal and Uganda were in attendance to learn how to  implement poverty assessment tools  and to gauge their practicality.  Topics included: logistical and staffing preparations, sampling and survey techniques, use and adaptation of  the tool, and procedures for reporting back on the practicality of that tool.  Each organization was provided with a template created with the Epi Info software and specifically programmed to use in entering and analyzing the survey responses for the particular tool  they are testing. The second training session for the remaining practicality test grantees will be held December 5 to 9.  Originally scheduled for mid-October, this session has been postponed to ensure compliance with new regulations on visas for training participants. Poverty Assessment on the Hill:  On September 20th, at a hearing of the House Committee on International Relations, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) asked James T. Smith, USAID's Assistant Administrator, to report on the progress of the  poverty assessment. "We've been working through IRIS at the University of Maryland to develop six different tools," said James Smith. "We're finding that probably 15 to 25 questions will suffice to generate sufficiently accurate data about poverty." Smith went on to explain that keeping the number of questions low is important because small microenterprise support organizations, with limited resources and expertise, must implement the tools. This also means that they must be easy to use. "You've really got to test those questionnaire tools to see if you're getting the responses from the clients that allow you to measure accurately," explained Smith "we're getting there and we will have them in place in October 2006 as required by the law. We're quite happy of the progress we're making with IRIS." Coming soon: Final edited reports for all four field countries, featuring results from new accuracy computation methods, will be available before the end of the year.


June/July 2005 Update

On  June 16th, the IRIS team met with the "POWG+" group, which in addition to POWG members, is open to any member of the microenterprise sector interested in the development of the poverty tools.  The formats for the Interim and Final Reports for the practicality tests were described to those presented, who provided feedback. In July the analysis of accuracy of poverty data from the four field countries and eight LSMS countries was completed.   We are especially pleased to make available the results of several months of hard work here [PDF:31KB]. The  list of indicators that feature most often among the best 15 in these 12 countries is available here [PDF:31KB]. Please note that, in order to allow comparability, these indicators are taken from the group of indicators that are common to all 12 countries, and that are therefore drawn from LSMS.  In addition, the indicators used in the four field countries were issued from a longer list, which includes a number of indicators that can be found in practitioner tools, but not in LSMS.  The list of these indicators which performed best in the four field countries will be released shortly.   Preparations for the practicality tests are continuing.  Locations for the September and October training sessions were selected, and grantee representatives are making preparations for the training. On July 20 , the Advisory Panel for the project met to discuss the accuracy results, the choice of econometric techniques to analyze accuracy data and select indicators to include in the tools, and to review the next steps for the practicality tests.  The Panel confirmed the decision to use BPAC as the main criterion for assessing the accuracy of the tools developed by the project team. The Panel also approved IRIS's suggestion to use the MaxR variable selection technique over ANOVA. Discussion continues about the choice of the best econometric techniques for indicator selection.   A technical note that explains the above terms and discusses the issues involved in the measurement and improvement of tool accuracy can be downloaded here [PDF:55KB].


April/May 2005 Update

On the accuracy side, Dr. Manfred Zeller and his team at the University of Göttingen continued their analysis of the results of the field tests in the last two countries, Kazakhstan and Uganda. The report on Kazakhstan is now available for download. The Uganda report is expected to be uploaded in July. The other field reports are available for download. Econometric work on LSMS data sets from eight additional countries and the four field countries included new regressions to test the impact of new analytical methods on the poverty accuracy criteria. These methods have been designed specifically for the project and facilitate the ongoing effort to select methods and poverty indicators for both practicality testing and later application across a broad range of countries. Most innovative is a two-step analysis method, in which a first set of indicators identifies the non-poor, and then a second set of indicators is used to focus in on distinguishing the very poor from the poor. A technical note [PDF:55KB] was posted on the web site to familiarize practitioners with different approaches to measuring tool accuracy, and to describe various methodologies to increase this accuracy. The SEEP Poverty Outreach Working Group (POWG) met on April 5 th to hear a synopsis of the accuracy tests in Peru and an update on the AID grants for the practicality testing. CGAP funding enabled an increased sample size for the Peru accuracy tests, from 800 to 2000. Another SEEP-POWG meeting was held on May 4 th to solicit feedback on the draft Implementation Manual to be used during the practicality testing. Quite a few excellent suggestions and comments were made that will help IRIS in the fine tuning of the manual prior to the practicality test trainings, which will be held September 12-16 and October 17-21, 2005. Fourteen grantee organizations—four of which offer Business Development Services (BDS)--are currently working on their implementation plans and selecting the two representatives whom the will send to the training sessions. The training venue will be chosen in June. The Poverty Assessment Tools Help Desk is now active. Anyone with questions about the PAT project-and the practicality tests in particular-is encouraged to contact the Help Desk at pathelp@iris.umd.edu.


March 2005 Update

Dr. Manfred Zeller and researchers at the Institute of Rural Development, University of Göttingen, continued their analysis of field tests in the remaining two countries of Kazakhstan and Uganda. The report on Kazakhstan will likely be posted on this web site in April or early May. LSMS work in March included constructing two poverty lines for each of the eight countries in the sample. As with the four field test countries, the first poverty line is the "dollar a day" standard (technically, $1.08 in 1993 Purchasing Power Parity terms). The second poverty line is set to the level isolating the bottom 50 percent of those classified as poor by the national poverty line. Additional regressions are being run in LSMS countries to test the impact of various analytical methods on the poverty accuracy criteria. Work on the draft field manuals for practicality tests continued and work on the final report format continued as well. The draft manuals will be the subject of the next meeting of the Poverty Outreach Working Group, scheduled for May 4 at AED. As advance preparation for the meeting, the manuals will go out to members by April 18 and comments would be appreciated by April 29. In addition, planning continued on the scheduling and content of training seminars for the grantees for the practicality field tests. The trainings are tentatively planned for early fall 2005. A date was scheduled for the next Poverty Assessment Advisory Panel meeting, to be held at IRIS on July 20, 2005, to discuss how the results from the 12 accuracy tests should affect the design of the practicality test questionnaires. Debbie Caro joined our team as a consultant in March. Dr. Caro will be helping us to integrate gender concerns into the implementation of poverty assessment tools, starting with the draft manuals currently being developed.


January/February 2005 Update

The accuracy tests move forward this winter, with the following results: The report from the accuracy field work in Peru has been published and is available for download [PDF: 1.59MB]. Dr Manfred Zeller, Julia Johannsen, and Gabriela Alcaraz V. provide some interesting insights into the analysis of data for this second of four country reports. This report also includes analysis of poverty outreach of six different financial institutions in Peru. Analysis of LSMS datasets continues, and initial regressions have been completed in Albania, Vietnam, Guatemala, Ghana, India, and Jamaica. Analysts will continue work on Tajikistan and Madagascar soon. Discussions between IRIS and USAID continue regarding the implications of low levels of “poverty accuracy” in the Bangladesh and Peru data analysis. Several alternative estimation methods are being considered and future reports will show the results of these discussions. Initial implications are seen in the Peru report. In addition, preparations for the practicality tests are underway, as Pact and USAID continue to move forward with making grants to practitioners to undertake these field tests. IRIS staff and consultants are currently developing draft manuals for implementing poverty assessment tools which will be distributed for comment in early May.


Training of Practicality Testers, September 12-16 and December 5-9, 2005

Practitioners from 13 countries met in Washington DC for one-week training sessions on how to implement tools and report on their practicality to IRIS and USAID. Participants learned how information on user-friendliness, cost and ease of use of the tools will contribute to USAID's tool certification, and discussed how to adjust indicators to specific country conditions. They familiarized themselves with the gender implications of poverty assessment, trained on the use of quantitative tools and sampling techniques, practiced using the Epi Info software for data entry and analysis, and prepared implementation plans for the testing in their own countries. Final reports are expected by April.


Presentation at the Annual General Meeting of the SEEP Network, October 27, 2005

The workshop presented an opportunity to examine the evolution of poverty assessment in the microenterprise industry, to review the collaboration between IRIS and the SEEP POWG to ensure practitioner input, and to discuss the current status of the project and the challenges that still face the development, certification and implementation of the tools. Colleagues from Grameen Foundation USA and ACCION shared their experience with developing and using poverty assessment information for operational purposes.

 

 

 

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