Articles

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.

MAHP Research Summary Report: PADME

By Bobbi Gray with Teddy Ekoue-Kouvahey. Freedom from Hunger Research Paper No. 9D. 37pp. (June 2010). Davis, CA: Freedom from Hunger.

MAHP Research Summary Report: RCPB

By Bobbi Gray and Ramona McCord with Scarlett Reeves, Benjamin Crookston, Dwight Parker, Mahamadi Cissé. Freedom from Hunger Research Paper No. 9E. 29pp. (June 2010). Davis, CA: Freedom from Hunger.

Baseline Study of Saving for Change in Mali: Results from the Segou Expansion Zone and Existing SFC Sites

Prepared by: Bureau of Appled Research in Anthropology, University of Arizona and Innovations for Poverty Action. 145pp. (March 2010).

Abstract

Saving for Change (SfC) is a community-based savings group program designed and implemented by Oxfam America and Freedom from Hunger in Mali, Senegal, Cambodia, El Salvador and Guatemala. This baseline study of the Saving for Change (SfC) program in Mali is the result of a collaborative research effort in 2009-2010 by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) at the University of Arizona. This innovative methodology combines qualitative and quantitative approaches to create a nuanced picture of the current SfC program and to document the baseline situation in an SfC expansion zone in the Segou region of Mali, where a randomized control trial (RCT) is currently underway to measure the socioeconomic impacts of the program over a three-year period (2009-2012).

The first section of this report details the methodology of both teams, which combined quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. The second section provides baseline results from the Segou expansion zone. The baseline information is based on large-scale quantitative survey research conducted by IPA in 500 villages in the Segou region and complementary qualitative analysis by BARA in 8 of those villages. In keeping with RCT protocol, SfC activities in this expansion zone began only after all field data collection for this research was completed. Follow-up studies in 2012 will help determine the program’s impacts for participants.

A third section of this report focuses on evaluating the current functioning of the existing SfC programs in five villages in other regions of Mali. Research in these villages is oriented toward gaining a qualitative understanding of how savings and credit systems function in relation to local livelihood strategies. These results build upon information collected by BARA during a prior study of 4 villages in 2008 that examined the establishment, replication, and function of SfC groups. The key areas addressed in this current research are: (a) household livelihood systems and vulnerability as they affect SfC activities; (b) the relation of SfC to the larger socioeconomic context of rural Mali; (c) the role of savings and credit organizations, both formal and informal, and their relation to SfC participation; and (d) community perceptions of the impact of SfC on livelihood systems and women's lives. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which community members are modifying the SfC model to meet local conditions and needs and several recommendations are offered to strengthen the existing model.

Can Financial Education Change Behavior? Lessons from Bolivia and Sri Lanka

Gray, Bobbi, Jennefer Sebstad, Monique Cohen, Kathleen Stack. Global Financial Education Program Financial Education Outcomes Assessment Working Paper #4. 94pp. (December 2009). Washington DC : Microfinance Opportunities and Davis, CA : Freedom from Hunge

Abstract

Introduction – In 2003, when Microfinance Opportunities and Freedom from Hunger partnered to develop a financial education curriculum for the microfinance industry, there was very little experience with financial education for low-income populations in developing countries—and most specifically, for microfinance institution clients. Microfinance Opportunities joined with Freedom from Hunger to launch the Global Financial Education Program to respond to this gap. The education development was a grassroots effort that started with market research in which clients shared their financial goals and challenges, and their current knowledge, skills, attitudes and practices as related to managing money. As a result of this program, a unique curriculum tailored to lowincome populations in developing countries was developed. Within two-and-a-half years, approximately 350,000 microfinance clients have received training in financial education, and 19 million have had access to some of the key education messages presented through radio, television, print and street theater.

While many basic principles of money management are universal, financial knowledge, experience and behaviors vary widely across individuals, households and populations. For example, young people have much less experience to draw on than older people; wage employees with a regular flow of income may be more regular savers, or rural populations may have much less exposure to formal banking institutions. There is still much to learn about which types of financial education are needed by whom, which methodologies are most effective in improving knowledge, skills, attitudes and practices, and how financial education can be combined with other opportunities to reinforce long-term behavior change.

To date, most of the experience with financial education has been in the developed world, and the jury is still out on whether financial education leads to positive behavior change. The purpose of this document is to explore our understanding of the role that financial education in developing countries can play in the lives of microfinance clients. It briefly reviews the existing literature on the outcomes of financial education in developing countries and highlights the lessons from financial education programs of three microfinance organizations: CRECER and Pro Mujer in Bolivia and SEEDS in Sri Lanka.

Microfinance against malaria: Impact of Freedom from Hunger’s malaria education when delivered by rural banks in Ghana.

De la Cruz, Natalie, Benjamin Crookston, Bobbi Gray, Steve Alder and Kirk Dearden. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 103:1229–1236. (December 2009).

You may purchase the article at Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (link will open in a new window).

Abstract

A community randomized pre-test/post-test design was used to compare the knowledge and behaviors of microfinance clients receiving malaria education (n = 213) to those receiving diarrhea education (n = 223) and to non-client controls (n = 268). Comparisons assessed differences at follow-up as well as within-group changes over time.

At follow-up, malaria clients had significantly better malaria knowledge than comparison groups: 48.4% of malaria clients were able to identify groups most vulnerable to malaria compared with 39.2% of diarrhea clients (P = 0.044) and 37.7% of non-clients (P = 0.024). Malaria clients were more likely than diarrhea clients (P = 0.024) (P < 0.001) and non-clients (P = 0.028) (P = 0.004) to report that insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) provide the best protection against malaria, and to agree that pregnant women should use ITNs, respectively. Between baseline and follow-up, malaria clients were most likely to: improve in knowledge of malaria complications during pregnancy; to own at least one bed net; and to report at least one child or woman of reproductive age sleeping under a bed net. Malaria clients also experienced the greatest increases in ITN ownership/use (9% vs. 2.9% and 6.7% among diarrhea clients and non-clients). Results indicate that, although significant barriers to malaria control remain, a malaria education program provided by microfinance institutions can effectively contribute to community and national malaria initiatives.

Linking Health to Microfinance to Reduce Poverty

Leatherman, Sheila and Christopher Dunford. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2010;88:470-471. doi: 10.2471/BLT.09.071464. (November 2009).

To read this, the first of many publications about to emerge from the four and a half years of our Microfinance and Health Protection (MAHP) initiative, click here.

Abstract

The June 2010 issue of the highly-regarded Bulletin of the World Health Organization published an article by Freedom from Hunger’s Trustee Sheila Leatherman and President Chris Dunford entitled “Linking Health to Microfinance to Reduce Poverty.”  In the words of the WHO Bulletin editor, “Sheila Leatherman & Christopher Dunford describe the positive effects of linking microfinance with health services.”

Credit unions and rural banks reaching down and out to the rural poor through group-based microfinance.

Dunford, Christopher. Enterprise Development and Microfinance, 20 (2):107–124. (June 2009). (English Only)

You may purchase the article at Ingenta Connect (link will open in a new window).

Abstract

Over the past 15 years, the experience of credit unions in francophone West Africa, Ecuador, Madagascar and the Philippines and rural banks in Ghana shows that adding group-based microfinance (village banking) to existing, locally owned financial institutions in provincial towns is a lower-cost, effective and sustainable alternative to building microfinance institutions de novo in order to extend microfinance to poorer women (many of them so poor their families are chronically hungry), especially in rural areas.

The advantage of village banking (as an efficient form of group-based microfinance) may be simply that it keeps costs low enough to facilitate delivery of credit and other services to rural areas that are too costly for other methodologies to reach. The disadvantage of the strategy is that many credit unions and rural banks are relatively fragile institutions; this is compensated by the ability to spread risk across a large number of these relatively small institutions.

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