Empowering Vulnerable Women in Eastern African through Innovative Savings Groups

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada is supporting researchers in Uganda, Kenya and Burundi to undertake a study to explore how innovative Savings Schemes can lead to economic empowerment of vulnerable women in Eastern African Countries. The lack of access to affordable financial services is one of the major bottlenecks to starting and growing income generating activities among women in east Africa. This could be attributed to the limited number of financial service providers that target marginalized women in rural areas and in informal settlements. Financial markets are also established on a challenging environment complicated by security concerns, economic and political instability, minimal infrastructure, a dispersed population, and limited economic activities. These factors among others keep the majority of the women in Africa unable to access financial services. As such, they are unable to turn their business ideas into reality and many of them remain economically unproductive. Innovative savings schemes do provide an opportunity for vulnerable women to achieve economic and social empowerment, by enabling them make regular savings to finance investments in business, asset acquisition and household expenditures. There are networks of saving groups for women within east African region but there is a paucity of evidence on how they have impacted on the social and economic empowerment of the women, and how these schemes enable women to cope with economic shocks. The overall objective of this research project is to evaluate theimpact of innovative savings schemes and the ways in which they have economically empowered women in E. Africa and enabled them to cope with shocks and vulnerability. Specifically, the research will:
(i) Document the most promising and innovative financial schemes to women empowerment within the target areas of the three countries;
(ii) Investigate the motivating factors for joining and remaining in Savings Groups (SGs), and how decision-making power relations influence women’s participation in SGs;
(iii) Examine the effects of SGs on Women’s usage of financial services, business activity, income, empowerment, consumption, and their ability to cope with economic shocks;
(iv) Evaluate the differences in penetration, operation, and impact of SGs between fragile and stable states;
and (v) recommend practical policy relevant results and directions on how to support and scale-up savings schemes in Africa.

The Project used a quasi-experimental survey design involving three categories of households:
(1) women who belong to an innovative savings group network (World Concern (WC) in Kenya and Uganda; and Five Talents (5T) in Burundi)
(2) women who belong to other savings group; and
(3) women do not belong to any savings group.
The impact of savings groups on women’s welfare is assessed through a comparison of the women’s circumstances at baseline and at endline, 12 months after the baseline. It is hypothesized that innovative savings groups significantly improve the welfare of women compared to belonging to a regular savings group; and that when women participate is savings schemes of any kind, their welfare is much better than those who are not enrolled into any savings groups. A difference-in-difference analysis between women in the WC and 5T savings group Network and those in any other savings group will be done to assess the effect of the innovative savings groups on women’s welfare. Likewise the group of women in WC/5T and those in regular savings groups will be compared with women not belonging to any savings group to assess the impact of savings groups on women’s welfare more generally. The women (household) survey is powered to capture a range of control variables.

An impact evaluation of the Uganda Women Economic Empowerment Program (UWEP)

The Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) has commissioned PADRI to undertake an impact evaluation of the UWEP intervention which has been ongoing for the last 5 years. This is a country-wide program aimed at improving the economic welfare of vulnerable women in Uganda. The evaluation has been design to cover both implementation processes and impact of the programme on the welfare of the beneficiaries. The outcome of the evaluation will inform design and breadth of the next phase of the programme.

Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for Mulago National Specialized Hospital

This regulatory impact assessment was commissioned by the Ministry of Health (MOH) under Mulago National Referral Hospital Administration, following the proposal to establish a National Specialised Hospital (MNSH) at Mulago in order to respond to the increasing need to provide specialized care for critical illnesses. We conducted consultations with key stakeholders including semi-autonomous bodies in the health sector, Mulago Hospital administration, line Ministry of Health departments, Directors of Regional Referral Hospitals, Medical research and training institutions, Development partners and UN agencies. In addition, we reviewed key national health policies and legislation and performance reports of the Ministry of Health and Mulago National referral Hospital. We conducted a benefit-cost analysis and an impact (economic, social and political) analysis in the assessment. The impact assessment was conducted between May – July 2017 and funded the Government of Uganda through Mulago National Referral Hospital and Ministry of Health.

The Uganda Cost of Living with Disability Survey (UCLDS)

PADRI, in partnership with Development Pathways conducted the fieldwork for the Uganda Cost of Living with Disability Survey (UCLDS) commissioned by the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development and conducted by Development (MGLSD). The Survey was the first of its kind to provide a situational analysis of disability in Uganda. It aimed at collecting information needed to estimate the ‘cost of disability’ and resource needs of people with disabilities relative to the population as a whole. This information is critical for determining adequate levels of income support and for prioritizing service provision for people with disabilities. PADRI was directly involved in managing the fieldwork activities, which included over 4000 households from 76 districts across all the regions in Uganda.
The households included those with a member with a functional difficulty (50%) and those with no member experiencing any form of functional difficulty (50%). The sample was randomly determined through a rigorous process which involved screening all households in each of the 129 enumeration areas selected by UBOS, based on the 2014 National Population and Housing Census sampling frame, to determine households with a member with functional difficulty and those without any member with a functional difficulty. Using the World Bank Survey-solutions program, households in each category were then selected for interviews. The data collection activities took place from September to November 2019. The findings of this situational analysis of the will be used by Government for policy development and programming for appropriate interventions for people living with disabilities in Uganda.
More details can be obtained from the contact person for this survey at MGLSD (Ms. Emily Ajiambo: email: ajiamboemily@gmail.com)

A scoping study for Refugees in Uganda and a refugee Issues paper for the NDP III

PADRI staff joined other researchers from ACE Policy Research Institute to conduct a scoping study of refugees in Uganda from March – November, 2019. The study involved fieldwork in 15 refugee settlements and host communities in 12 refugee hosting districts of Arua, Koboko, Yumbe, Adjumani, Lamwo, Moyo, Isingiro, Kamwenge, Kyegegwa, Hoima, Kiryandongo, and Kampala. The scoping study involved a survey of over 1500 refugee households, focus group discussions with refugees and members of the host communities, and key informant interviews at the district local governments and at the National Level. The issues examined in the scoping study include: the legal and institutional frameworks regarding refugee management in Uganda; planning capacity and frameworks at national and Local Government levels; productive capacity and livelihoods among refugees; service delivery in refugee settlements; sustainable financing for refugee response; environmental conservation and alternative energy sources; and the political economy of refugee issues in Uganda. The findings of the study were synthesized to come up with a refugee issues paper for the National Development Plan (NDP) III to guide incorporating the refugee issues in the development planning over the next 5 years. The study was Commissioned by the National Planning Authority (NPA) with funding from the World Bank-Uganda