I use a variety of methods – surveys, field experiments and behavioral games – to answer questions related to the political economy of development. I focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The following are a selection of field projects for which I am PI or co-PI:


1. “Local development in Congo” (in progress). Tuungane phase 2 and 2+. We evaluate a field experiment to answer whether provision of basic services can be improved by strengthening the ties between service users, providers and local governments? Where: 1,120 Congolese villages (data collection). When: 2010-2014 (implementation), 2014-2016 (data collection). With: Ann Laudati (UC Berkeley), DIME (World Bank). Partner: International Rescue Committee. Funding: DFID. PAP.

2. “Eastern Congo recovery” (in progress). We evaluate a set of variations within a field experiment to learn whether: community-driven development projects are more effective with a conflict mitigation component; short-run public work projects can have a long-run impact with a savings and/or training component. Where: 1,120 Congolese villages (data collection). When: 2014-2015 (data collection), 2015-2017 (implementation). With: Marijke Verpoorten (Antwerp University), DIME (World Bank). Partner: Social Fund DRC. Funding: World Bank.

3. “Resource distribution over networks” (data collected). Detailed network data on all individuals in 50 Congolese villages was collected. We then implemented a distribution project with different entry points based on individuals’ network positions, to learn about discrimination in resource distribution. When: 2014-2015. With: N. Sircar (Columbia), J. Larson (NYU) and M. Voors (Wageningen). PAP.

4. “Mapping displacement in Eastern Congo” (data collected). This project collected detailed migration history and GPS information for over 8,199 adults to understand migration patterns and hosting arrangements in Eastern Congo. Funding: Earth Institute’s AC4. PAP. More (including data). When: 2012.

5. “Cooperation in the presence of displacement” (data collected). We conducted a set of novel trust and dictator games in Congo’s South Kivu province with 416 individuals (stratified by migration status) to learn about the social dynamics between migrants and natives. This project goes hand in hand with months of ethnographic research that I conducted in the same area. When: 2012. With N. Sircar (Columbia). Funding: CSDS and ASC. PAP. More (including data).

6. “Collecting conflict data using mobile phones” (completed). The Voix des Kivus project. A project that used cellphones to map local level (conflict) events in real-time from hard-to-reach areas. The project made use of “crowdseeding”, and received thousands of messages from Congo’s war torn South Kivu province. When: 2009-2011. With M. Humphreys (Columbia). Funding: USAID. More (including data).

7. “Local development in Congo” (completed). Tuungane phase 1. The Financial Times called this “one of the world’s largest ever randomized trials”. We conduct a field experiment in over 800 villages in Eastern Congo to learn whether exogenously introduced institutions can bring local level democratic practices to developing countries. When: 2007-2010 (implementation), 2010-2012 (data collection). With: M. Humphreys (Columbia) and R. Sanchez (UC Berkeley). Partners: IRC and CARE. Funding: 3IE and DFID. PAP. More.



8. “Community Resilience to Ebola” (design stage). EVD spread, in large part, because victims were reluctant to seek help early enough, due to a mixture of political, economic and socio-cultural concerns, often explained as the three “A”s (availability, acceptability and affordability of services). We work together with local communities to improve their resilience and preparedness to manage future infectious outbreaks. When: 2015-2017. With: M. Voors, P. Richards. Partner: Njala University. Funding: RNE, Ghana.

9. “Making foreign investments work for the local poor” (design stage). Working together with a local NGO that provides legal services to communities, we hope to answer whether foreign investments in mining and agriculture can be made to work better for the local poor? With: Bilal Siddiqi (World Bank), Darin Christensen (Stanford) and M. Voors (Wageningen).

10. “Social Status and discrimination” (data collected). We conduct a set of original lab-in-the-field experiments with 750 participants in 46 villages in Sierra Leone. The goal is to learn about the importance of an individual’s position within different social networks for discriminatory behavior. When: 2012. With: N. Sircar (Columbia), T. Turley (BYU) and M. Voors (Wageningen). Funding: Cambridge University and NWO. PAP.