Villages and Spillovers – Blog #2

As we went forward with the procedure, we began to realize that village life would be sure to incur spillover effects.  When constructing the contact lists, we saw this.  Of those who did not have their own mobile phone, people would often have a shared best contact.  In one case, a teacher in one village was the best contact for eight participants!  This would imply that an influential person in a village may receive an invitation to this workshop, though labeled for a specific person, and invite those in his/her circle that he/she thinks will benefit from learning about land rights.  This could include women in our study who did not list the person as their best contact, or have their own mobile phones.

We did our best to minimize spillovers early on.  All of the women in the study were recruited from Community Based Organizations (CBOs).  Prior to the end line of the phase 2 (the workshops occurred after the end line surveys were collected), many of the women listed their CBO leaders as their best contacts.  Traditionally, when inviting women to workshops like we were putting on, NGOs would ask the CBO leader to invite those in his/her organization to the workshop.  If we contacted the CBO leader with an invitation for a few women in his/her organization, he/she might invite all of them women.  This would mean we could not study the effect of an SMS invitation, as they would have been encouraged to go by an influential person.

The workshop was put on by two partner NGOs, Environmental Journalists of Tanzania (JET) and Haki Ardhi (meaning ‘Land Rights’ in Swahili).  JET helped recruit the women in the study, and had worked with their CBOs before.  Thus, if JET was mentioned in affiliation with the current workshop, we would run the risk of the women attending just because they liked working with JET before, and doing so had led many to receive cash or mobile phones. For this reason, we disaffiliated our invitation, with permission, from JET, saying the workshop was being put on by Haki Ardhi, a NGO the women are not familiar with.

Due to the closeness of the women in the study, as many in the same villages run around in the same social circles, spillovers cannot be wholly avoided.  However, they can be minimized.