Freedom from Hunger is committed to sharing what we learn with the rest of the field. Our expert staff members are regularly called upon to contribute commentary, articles and chapters for trade publications, technical journals and books.

We are pleased to provide the following list of published works authored or co-authored by Freedom from Hunger staff, past and present. These articles are generally available for free download in PDF format or via links to other websites. In some cases, articles have been published by journals that provide access only by subscription or purchase.

The titles are listed according to the date of publication, starting with the most recent articles. We provide complete citation information for the convenience of researchers wanting to cite the publication in their own work and provide access to French or Spanish versions, when available.

We sincerely hope you will find these articles useful for broadening your understanding of value-added microfinance and related topics.

Resilience and Health Shocks: The Potential of Health Savings Accounts and Health Loans.

Paul L, G Elabed, and M Gash. 2016. Consultative Group to Assist the Poor: Washington, DC.

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In Burkina Faso, households have access to few resources for facing numerous health and environmental shocks. Economic games were used to introduce health savings accounts (HSAs) and health loans to participants, mimicking real-life products by a local financial service provider (FSP). Participants encountered real-life scenarios and were asked to manage shocks with the resources provided through their game, and their decisions on the use of those resources were recorded. The findings from the economic game suggest that HSAs and health loans have the potential to help the poor better manage health shocks, leaving them better off financially and reducing their long-term costs. This paper highlights the value of FSPs and development practitioners investing in the design and development of shock-specific financial tools.

The Role of Financial Services in Building Household Resilience in Burkina Faso

Gash M and B Gray. 2016. Consultative Group to Assist the Poor: Washington, DC.

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To fill some of the gaps in knowledge about how financial services contribute to household resilience, a series of financial diaries and qualitative data were collected among 46 women in rural Burkina Faso. Results from the study revealed that the demand for financial services to anticipate and cope with shocks appears widely unmet. For financial services to help the poor build resilience, they need to be designed to provide vulnerable households with more viable options. In particular, financial instruments have to better address timeliness of payout and accessibility of funds. Clients need financial and nonfinancial services that help them mitigate risk, lessen the severity of trade-offs, and avoid long-term adverse developmental consequences. Recommendations from this study can be applied to financial service design in a way that increases access and use of financial services for the poor while also making business sense for providers.

How do you know “Resilience” when you see it? Characteristics of Self-perceived Household Resilience among Rural Households in Burkina Faso

Gray B, M Gash, B Crookston, and V Aleotti.  2016. Consultative Group to Assist the Poor: Washington, DC.

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The primary goal of this paper is to identify the characteristics of self-perceived resilience among a small sample of women in rural Burkina Faso. The findings from this paper provide unique insights into the set of factors, if reinforced by financial institutions and development practitioners, that are likely to strengthen household resilience. These factors include household savings accumulation, access to different financial services (such as savings), credit for IGAs (particularly, those associated with a resilient household, such as livestock in the case of this population), and specific savings products for health and other emergencies. While more significant research is necessary to validate the findings from this small sample, these findings help provide direction for practitioners interested in building and measuring changes in household resilience.

Designing Financial Services to Respond to Household Shocks: A Case Study of RCPB’s Health Savings and Loan Product

Gray, B and M Gash. 2016.  Consultative Group to Assist the Poor: Washington, DC.

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This case study follows the experience of Reseau des Caisses Populaires du Burkina Faso (RCPB), a credit union network based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in designing a health savings product and health loan (which could be accessed only when a health savings account was in use and depleted of funds) that clients could use to address health costs. Through Freedom from Hunger’s research on household resilience in Burkina Faso, key design insights were revealed to help explain low usage of these accounts among their poorest clients. The lack of timely disbursement of the savings and loans was a key obstacle as well as the availability of the funds outside of business hours. Some important gender considerations, such as mobility and privacy, were discovered to be obstacles for active use of the product. While health savings accounts can provide a protective measure against health shocks and build resilience over the long term, this case study shows it is important to understand the attributes of the mechanisms people typically use to respond to shocks, versus other household expenses, to design financial services that help households reduce use of negative coping mechanisms and help them respond to shocks positively.

I am Saving—Lessons Learned from Implementation of Integrated Savings Services and Financial Education for Two Ecuadorian Credit Unions

Bobbi Gray, Amelia Kuklewicz, Christian Loupeda, Rocio Chavez. “I am Saving—Lessons Learned from Implementation of Integrated Savings Services and Financial Education for Two Ecuadorian Credit Unions.” More Inclusive Finance for Youth: Scalable and Sustainable Delivery Models for Financial and Non-Financial Services. European Dialogue Number 8. Ed. Rossana Ramirez and the e-MFP Youth Financial Inclusion Action Group. Luxembourg: European Microfinance Platform, 2015.

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In the financial services sector there has been a significant investment towards advancement of youth financial access and capability, in an effort to improve young people’s future economic options, especially in low-income countries. Many projects have designed and offered youth financial services integrated with non-financial services, such as financial and business education. But with demonstration projects coming to a close, there is a need to determine how to scale up services sustainably. This publication by the European Microfinance Platform analyzes a variety of macro- and micro-level factors that can impact the scalability and sustainability of youth integrated services. The objective of the publication is to provide guidance to governments, donors and financial service providers on a context-appropriate approach to offering both financial and non-financial services to young people. Freedom from Hunger highlights two of its Ecuadorian credit union partners, Cooperativa San Jose and Cooperativa Cooprogreso, and their work in developing youth financial and nonfinancial services.

Leveraging the Power of Women’s Groups and Financial Services to Improve Knowledge and Behaviors for Improved Child and Maternal Nutrition.

Rao, S., B. Gray, M. Metcalfe, and S. Dutta. 2014. POSHAN Implementation Note 5. New Delhi: International Food Policy Research Institute.


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Microfinance institutions (MFIs), self-help promoting institutions (SHPIs), and their self-help groups (SHGs) reach about 90 million poor women in India, bringing them together regularly to participate in financial activities that support their livelihoods. Through SHGs, women have access to financial services, such as loans, savings, and insurance. SHGs also provide a strong platform for women to participate in health and nutrition services, such as health and nutrition education, information on government health and nutrition programs, linkages to health providers and community health volunteers, health fairs, and access to savings and loans designed specifically to help households cover direct and indirect health expenses. SHGs are also a way for women to educate their peers, influence behaviors, and more systematically and cost-effectively benefit from streamlined, integrated financial and health and nutritional services.

The Evidence-Based Story of Savings Groups: A Synthesis of Seven Randomized Control Trials

Gash, Megan and Odell, K. (2013). The Evidence-Based Story of Savings Groups: A Synthesis of Seven Randomized Control Trials. The SEEP Network: Washington, D.C.


This paper surveys the results from seven recent, prominent RCT evaluations of SGs in seven countries. It consolidates the findings in a single document that reflects upon the commonalities and differences across the results and places them within the broader body of evidence about the role of SGs in the lives of their members. The paper presents ways in which the SG community is using the body of evaluation research to inform and improve its programs. Information about the implementation and results of the RCTs has been collected through publicly available results, results not yet publicly available, and a series of interviews with researchers and programming specialists in the field. The goal of this synthesis paper is to consolidate knowledge about general outcomes of SG participation; the paper should not be interpreted as a comparison of programs across facilitating agencies.

Integrating Microfinance and Community Health Interventions in India

Leatherman, Sheila, Somen Saha, Marcia Metcalfe, Dileep Mavalankar. “Integrating Microfinance and Community Health Interventions in India”, International Journal of Development Research,Vol. 4, Issue, 3, pp. 442-446, March, 2014.


Poor health and the inability to access healthcare are key factors both leading to, and resulting from, poverty. Yet, in India and worldwide, rather than combining poverty alleviation and community health interventions in an integrated strategy, approaches are largely unisectoral. Ninety three million members (impacting over 300 million people including households) are engaged in MFIs and SHG -Bank Linkage programs in India. Through a review of integrated approaches in India, the paper argues that leveraging the microfinance and self-help networks represents a pragmatic and sustainable mechanism for reaching a greater proportion of the poor with proven low-cost health interventions. Such integrated approaches can harness and complement existent governmental programs to have a synergistic impact on health and poverty and address multiple Millennium Development Goals focused on poverty, gender equality, empowerment of women, maternal and child health, and combating diseases such as HIV and malaria.

Saving Together: Group-Based Approaches to Promote Youth Savings

Ramirez, Rossana, Laura Fleischer-Proaño. 20pp. (2013). Davis, CA : Freedom from Hunger.


This paper examines the potential of youth living in poverty to harness the power of groups to develop positive savings behaviors and long-term savings habits. Because youth are at a stage in their lives when they are particularly susceptible to peer influence, groups can positively impact their financial behaviors through a group structure, integrated financial education and the dynamics of social pressure and social capital. When young people start saving early, they increase their potential to develop a savings habit that can carry into their adult lives, strengthening their financial capabilities as they begin to face increased financial and social responsibilities. The significance of this approach became evident as Freedom from Hunger set out to test and learn from three different models of financial services integrated with financial education as part of its Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth (AIM Youth) initiative developed in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation.