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Kenya orphanage

Children eat their supper at the Turkana Outreach Orphanage in Lodwar, the district capital of Turkana district in northern Kenya.

(7 March 2017) Research that is open, available and transparent for academics, implementers, donors and the public includes ensuring that data is free and accessible. This push for ‘open science’ and promoting openness in research is expected to encourage increased knowledge generation, collaboration, diffusion of results and replication, among others. With this vision in mind, the longitudinal evaluation data from the Government of Kenya’s Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC) has just been released. This is the first data to be released through the Transfer Project, a joint partnership between national governments and UNICEF Country Offices, FAO, Save the Children UK and the University of North Carolina, including a core set of researchers from the UNICEF Office of Research--Innocenti.

The Government of Kenya supported the release of the three-wave household panel of data collected in 2007, 2009 and 2011 as part of a cluster randomized controlled trial, to evaluate the impact of Kenya’s CT-OVC programme. The data package contains primary datasets from individual/household surveys and community surveys. There are also several supplementary datasets that provide additional information on tracking and attrition. Although topics addressed vary slightly across the surveys, all three waves contain information on topics including consumption and expenditure, health, education, and productivity of recipient (treatment group) and non-recipient households (comparison group).

Evaluation data has been used to understand how unconditional cash transfers have benefited poor households, communities and through which channels impacts have been realized. Over the four years of the evaluation period, the programme had impacts on household expenditure and poverty, food consumption and increased human capital of school-age children and time preferences of adults. Additionally, during the critical time of youth transitioning to adulthood, the programme delayed sexual debut, reduced the likelihood of early pregnancy and reduced odds of depressive symptoms among youth in beneficiary households. Evaluation findings have contributed to the scale-up of the programme, now reaching over 360,000 households nationally.

By making the research data open, the measurement data and the source codes that produced results are now made available. This benefits researchers who can reanalyse the data and the findings, and may even be encouraged to carry out new, innovative research. Providing access to the data also appeals to donors who allocate public funding to research: if the public paid for the data collection, there should be open, public access to this information.

Currently, steps are being taken by the Transfer Project to prepare more collected data for release. The Project has recognized from its inception the centrality of openly sharing information to facilitate learning and achieve its goal of informing better design and implementation of social protection programmes. All project partners are committed to the importance of this project as a public good and to the promotion of learning in the region, and beyond. For each of the cash transfer programmes, the project aims to make data, instruments and evaluation reports open and accessible.

See the Transfer Project webpage for more information on the Kenya CT-OVC programme and research findings, and the Innocenti webpage for more information on cash transfer work at the Office of Research—Innocenti.