The World Bank has awarded $209,000 to economists with the International Center for Public Policy (ICEPP) at Georgia State University to conduct impact evaluations in the two northwest regions of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. Their work will help Pakistan adopt policy measures to stabilize the area as its government, the World Bank and international development organizations invest $2 billion in a multi-year strategy to redevelop its communities and restore citizen trust.
“The northwestern regions of Pakistan – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas – have been destabilized by the war across the border, which has directly affected more than 34 million people,” said the project’s principal investigator, Musharraf Rasool Cyan, an assistant professor of research for ICEPP, a research center of Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.
The region is defined by its rugged geography and resilient tribal culture.
“After the government cleared the militancy and crisis out of these territories, it began building out the infrastructure, water supply, urban services, education, health and agriculture,” said Cyan.
Pakistan established new legal reforms, including the Right to Information and the Right to Public Services Acts to encourage citizen participation in governance. The High Court set up an e-grievance redress system for poorer and marginalized communities. Other initiatives will improve maternal health for rural women and increase case detection rates for tuberculosis.
Cyan and his team are developing field and behavioral experiments to evaluate how well these incentives work. The tools they produce will allow Pakistan to evaluate the impact of its redevelopment investments on peace building, focus further public investment on the winners and train local officials to do future impact evaluations.
“Our evaluations and analyses will help inform the government how to achieve rapid adoption of their new programs, most of which are designed to encourage greater civic participation and engagement in the country’s governance,” Cyan said. “For example, we are helping the government design a three-month messaging campaign through which they hope to engage citizens in seeking their newly codified rights. While these measures are being implemented, we’ll conduct citizen trust surveys and make other observations specific to the interventions. This will allow us to understand how the acts positively or negatively affect citizen engagement with the state.”
At the culmination of the research, Cyan and his team will conduct a series of workshops to share the findings.
“The idea is that the results should go directly to inform public policy and have an impact of their own in leading to evidence-based policy,” he said.
Georgia State’s team, which includes associate professors Michael Price and Mark Rider, are working with 25 officials from the government, the World Bank office in Islamabad and faculty from the University of Peshawar.