Syndicate content

Crowdsourcing Poverty Research

Gabriel Demombynes's picture

A tremendous amount of development research is all but unknown in the countries that are the subject of that research. In Kenya, this is the case with path-breaking papers like the Kremer-Miguel Worms study and the Cohen-Dupas insecticide-treated net pricing experiment.

To increase the visibility of such policy-relevant work, we’re producing a "Kenya 2011 Poverty Research Review" that will be published early next year as part of our larger Poverty Update report, which will be widely publicized in Kenya.

The Poverty Research Review will give an overview of poverty-related research on Kenya published in 2011 in journals or working paper series. There is a wide pool of work to draw from: a search on "Kenya" and "poverty" in Google Scholar produces 12,900 references for works produced in 2011.

As an experiment, I’m going to try drawing from the wisdom of crowds for this project.  Please help me with your suggestions for high-quality papers on poverty-related issues in Kenya that you would like to see highlighted in our review.

There are three ways to collaborate:
1) Add a comment to this blog post with the reference
2) Send it to me via Twitter: @gdemom
3) Add papers directly to my Kenya 2011 Poverty Research Review group on Mendeley, an easy-to-use online bibliography tool. Mendeley, or  “Facebook-for-nerds “ allows you to collaboratively assemble references.

You’ll have to go through a very brief sign-up process to add papers. You do not need to download the desktop version; it works perfectly well just run as an online application. (You should definitely follow the quick instructions to add the "Web Importer" so that you can pull reference information off websites.)

Thanks in advance for joining this effort.


Submitted by M. H. Ali on
Mr. Gabriel thanks for seeking to crowd-sourcing on ways of ending poverty in Kenya. To give you a few hints, just pay attention to the following; A) end to corruption impunity B) rewarding performance C) gov't to focus on service delivery/empowerment and respect for rule of law D) gov't to provide enabling environment for sustainable development E) encourage investment on market dynamics The above coupled with infrastructural development coordinated by the gov't will immensely spur development and hence create jobs and depoliticize day to day running of gov't as is now. Of course Gabriel these require regional stability which is not the sole responsibility of Kenya but a collective one by all concerned authorities/gov'ts. Best regards.

Submitted by Michael Lokshin on
Gabriel, Your post implicitly assumes that the main problem with an access to the research on poverty in Kenya is on the supply side. That might not be so. Kenya is an English speaking country with relatively large Internet penetration (10% of population with 4,000,000 users). I imagine that the penetration rate among government officials and policymakers is much higher. These people can use Google Scholar to search for these 12,900 works if they want or need to. But for some reason they do not do that. Are you sure the solution is to publish the results of Google Scholar for "Kenya" and "poverty" in a form of "Kenya 2011 Poverty Research Review"? I would assume that people in Kenya have an access to that body of knowledge. The interesting question is why they do not use it. For me the answer is on a demand side. Misha

Submitted by Gabriel on
Thanks to everyone who's sent me suggestions via Twitter! @M.H.Ali: Thanks for your ideas. @Misha: A lot of what my group (PREM) at the World Bank does in Kenya is to put together publications and events to spur evidence-based discussion in the public and among policymakers. We do this through, among other vehicles, a semiannual Kenya Economic Update publication. The KEU and some other work we put out includes relatively little new analysis. Most (but not all) of what's found in those reports presents, in a more accessible form, work that has already been published in more technical papers or lengthy studies. The KEU and similar reports get huge takeup in Kenya--they are widely covered in the Kenyan media, and the events surrounding them generate a lot of discussion. So it would seem that there is an appetite for a trusted source to bring in an accessible presentation of evidence-based research, and I think this is a valuable role for the World Bank to play.

Do you have a list of exactly what poor people in Kenya should buy in order to making a living on a subsistence farm or in an urban area including prices and availability of the supplies? Until these type of supply lists are made and used in Kenya, it is difficult to evaluate a particular idea for development, policy concept or research result.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Isnt it business people rather than policy wonks who should be answering that question?

I don't understand why you feel that poverty reduction policy people think they can can establish an appropriate policy for improving the lives of BOP farmers if they don't do a cost benefit analysis of what BOP farmers most need. Do you feel that fertilizer subsidies by the World Bank in Malawi was the best policy, for example? Should the World Bank policy people have decreased the cost of micro irrigation systems, pesticides, seeds, nursery stock, fencing, animal stock, veterinary supplies, etc instead? (See recent Michigan State studies on this question)

Submitted by Anonymous on
The inequality-poverty nexus is something of an anathema in Policy discussions in Kenya. Is this the result of vested interest who influence what is researched and what gets published out there? To what extent are the local universities guaranteed access to "sensitive" or confidential information with which they can then research these issues. A primary question that research along the above theme should address is exactly how much initial inequality is passed on as future poverty through the generations and across different rural and urban centers. To me there seems to be a lot that the different Kenyan coomu8nities can l;earn form each other on this matter that would be mutually beneficial. I wish to remain anonymous-including my email.

Submitted by Philip Munyua on
Having most knowledge in one pool is a move in the right direction! Synthesis, categorization, should be next. This is because, in as far as we have over 12,000 development papers in 2011, when raw (not synthesized), they are unusable. Synthesis and categorization could be based on World Banks thematic scheme (which most policy makers might not agree; as already seen above) or what bloggers might suggest. Thanks

Add new comment