National Solidarity Programme
The National Solidarity Programme (NSP) is the largest development program in Afghanistan. Since its inauguration in 2003, NSP has established 32,000 Community Development Councils (CDCs) across 361 districts in all of Afghanistan's 34 provinces and has financed nearly 65,000 development projects. NSP is structured around two major village-level interventions: (1) the creation of a gender-balanced CDC through a secret-ballot, universal suffrage election; and (2) the disbursement of block grants, valued at $200 per household up to a community maximum of $60,000, to fund village-level projects selected, designed, and managed by the CDC in consultation with villagers.
NSP Impact Evaluation Methodology (report)
The NSP impact evaluation (NSP-IE) was a multi-year randomized control trial designed to measure the effects of the second phase of NSP (which ran from 2007 through 2011) on a broad range of economic, political, and social indicators. Using a matched-pair cluster randomization procedure, 250 of 500 villages were randomly selected in 2007 to receive NSP and comprise the treatment group for the study, with the remaining villages assigned to the control group. The design of NSP-IE facilitates a transparent and unbiased estimation of program impacts by ensuring that the background characteristics of the treatment group are, on average, identical to the control group.
All hypotheses tested by the study and documented in the Final Report were detailed in a Pre-Analysis Plan (PAP) completed prior to the receipt of endline survey data and registered with the Experiments in Politics and Governance Network (EGAP). The PAP also provides details of the indicators incorporated into hypotheses tests and the specifications applied to aggregate indicators and test hypotheses. The adherence of the analysis to the PAP assures the integrity of the estimates and, in particular, their imperviousness to publication bias or other pressures to manipulate findings. The study also received human subjects approval from Harvard University, MIT, and the New Economic School.
The 500 villages which form the sample for the study are located across ten districts in Balkh, Baghlan, Daykundi, Ghor, Herat, and Nangarhar provinces. The ten districts were selected based on size, security conditions, and the constraint that no villages in the district had previously received NSP activities. The ten districts provide a representation of Afghanistan's geographic, ethnic, and economic diversity, although security conditions have precluded the inclusion of southern provinces in the evaluation.
Seven Facilitating Partners (FPs) were contracted to implement 43wNSP the ten evaluation districts, including two local FPs, as well as major international NGOs. Treatment villages in the sample commenced NSP implementation following the baseline survey in late 2007, with almost all treatment villages completing the program in 2011.
Structure of Data Collection
Baseline, midline, and endline surveys administered between August 2007 and October 2011 provide the core data for the estimation of NSP impacts. Collectively, the three surveys comprised over 25,000 household interviews with male and female villagers, as well as more than 2,600 focus groups with male village leaders and women.
Data from the midline survey is used to estimate impacts of NSP two years after the start of NSP implementation and after all treatment villages had elected CDCs and selected projects, but prior to the completion of 82 percent of NSP-funded projects. Data from the endline survey is used to estimate impacts four years after implementation and after 99 percent of NSP-funded projects had been completed, but prior to the mobilization of control villages by NSP. In addition to the midline and endline, the study also draws on the findings of a wheat distribution experiment which assessed program impacts on the equity of food aid dist sributions by village leaders.
Sample Characteristics at Baseline (report)
At the time of baseline data collection in August and September 2009, households in sample villages faced high levels of poverty and were under-served by other projects. Over 80 percent of households drew water from unsafe water sources and only 14 percent had access to electricity. Access to health care was also limited, with around 89 percent of respondents reporting that no community health worker was available locally. When asked about development priorities, pluralities of male and female villagers cited clean drinking water. Projects focused on irrigation and roads and bridges were of high importance to male village leaders, but were of lesser importance to female villagers, who were more likely to cite education or health projects. The baseline data demonstrated the primacy of village headmen and tribal elders in local governance activities and also the limited role for women in such activities.