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Evidence Action's No Lean Season: Supplementary Information

This page contains further discussion and information for our review of Evidence Action's No Lean Season. This page is intended to provide supplementary information on topics covered in the main review and is not intended to be read independently of the main review. The information on this page is less frequently updated than our main review; there is a note at the top of each section indicating when it was last updated.


Published: June 2018

Implementation phases of the program

Section last updated: November 2017

Targeting: Village selection

RDRS begins No Lean Season's annual implementation cycle by compiling a list of all villages within an hour's bicycle travel of each participating branch office.1 RDRS Migration Organizers survey a village elder in each village in order to assess the program's viability in the village and to establish the exact location of the village with GPS coordinates.2

No Lean Season plans to annually operate in one third of the villages in each RDRS branch office's catchment area, rotating which villages are targeted each year, so that each village is reached once every three years.3 This is based on evidence that migration subsidies can have an effect on re-migration for several years without further subsidization (more). In 2017, No Lean Season operated out of 52 RDRS branch offices, serving about 600 villages.4

No Lean Season estimates that there are an average of 35 villages per branch office catchment area. As approximately one-third of villages in a catchment area are served per year, No Lean Season serves approximately 12 villages per RDRS branch office per year.5 As there are two Migration Organizers assigned to each branch office, each Migration Organizer serves approximately six villages per year.

Targeting: Household eligibility

Households are eligible to participate if they report owning less than a certain amount of land or having regularly skipped meals in a period just before the survey.6

Household eligibility census

A complete household census is conducted by Migration Organizers in all villages that are selected to be reached by the program in a given year. The household census aims to identify which households will be eligible to receive a loan offer.7 The 2017 census collects data from an adult household member8 regarding (a) land ownership and (b) missed meals in a period just prior to the survey.9 We have seen the 2016 survey protocols for this survey, as well as unpublished survey results from 2016.10

Evidence Action monitoring staff verify the quality of this census by re-visiting a random11 sample of households and administering a Household Targeting Verification Survey to check the accuracy of the data from the original census conducted by No Lean Season Migration Organizers. In 2017, Evidence Action re-surveyed approximately 0.4% of households.12 Evidence Action has told us that this sample size has been determined to meet 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error. We have seen preliminary results of the 2017 Household Targeting Verification Survey,13 which we discuss below.

Determination of household eligibility

Results from the household eligibility census are processed by Evidence Action staff.14 Data is cleaned for blank entries, duplicates, and entries missing data.15

In 2017, households were eligible for the No Lean Season program if they reported owning 50 or fewer decimals of cultivable land or reported any incidence of skipped meals in the two weeks prior to the survey.16 These eligibility criteria are somewhat different from the eligibility criteria used in the studies which inform our view of the intervention (more).

Based on preliminary data from the 2017 household eligibility census, Evidence Action estimates that approximately 77% of surveyed households are eligible for the program.17 In the 2014 RCT, about 57% of censused households were eligible for the program, using the eligibility criteria of that study.18

Based on the compiled list of eligible households, Evidence Action adds each eligible household to a database, identified by a unique household ID, village name, and name of the head of household. Each of these households is a "case file" in the mobile application, which is updated through future interactions with the household. It is not possible for Migration Organizers to create or delete households through the mobile data collection application, or to edit a household's identifying information (unique household ID, village name, and household name).19

Offers to participate in the program

Migration Organizers inform eligible households about the No Lean Season program, extend offers for participation in the program to each eligible household, and record the household's level of interest in the program. The offer process proceeds in several stages: eligible households are invited to a public meeting about the program, the program is explained at this public meeting, and Migration Organizers follow up with eligible households who did and did not attend the offer meeting in order to extend the offer and to gauge interest in the program.

Invitation to an offer meeting

After being assigned a list of eligible households, each Migration Organizer travels to their assigned villages and visits every household on their list. The purpose of this visit is to inform households of their eligibility for the program and to invite them to attend a public group meeting about the program.20 If an adult household member is not present, the Migration Organizer is expected to revisit the household at a later time.21

Offer meetings

Offer meetings are held in public locations and are open to the public. One hour before the scheduled start time of a meeting, Migration Organizers are instructed to revisit households invited to this meeting and remind them of the scheduled meeting.22

At the beginning of each offer meeting, the Migration Organizer uses the mobile application to take a photo of the meeting as additional verification that the meeting took place. The Migration Organizer takes attendance by calling the names of the up to 50 households assigned to this offer meeting. A household is marked as attending the offer meeting if any member of the household over 18 years of age is present at the meeting.23 Migration Organizers are instructed to wait to begin the meeting until at least 70% of the invited households are present at the meeting.24

The Migration Organizer leading the meeting explains the purpose of the No Lean Season program.25 Migration Organizers are trained to base their verbal presentation on an offer meeting script, which communicates that migration subsidies are offered as interest free conditional loans, and that the condition for receiving the money is a commitment to temporarily migrating in the coming lean season. The script also includes discussion of the risks and benefits associated with temporary migration.26 Additionally, at the offer meeting Migration Organizers are instructed to inform attendees of the scheduled loan disbursement days at their local RDRS branch office.27

After describing the program, Migration Organizers publicly answer any questions that meeting attendees may have.28 In particular, Migration Organizers are trained to communicate carefully about the limited liability conditions of the loan. Migration Organizers are permitted to say that if a migrant dies or is seriously injured or ill while migrating, they will not be required to pay back the loan. However, Migration Organizers are not permitted to say that if a migrant fails to find work while migrating, they will not be required to pay back the loan; they are instructed to answer more vaguely that such cases will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by RDRS staff.29 More on communicating about loan forgiveness here.

At the end of the offer meeting, the Migration Organizer asks each household assigned to the meeting whether, at this time, they accept the loan offer, are not interested in participating in the program, or are potentially interested in the program, and records the response in the case management application.30 The script also instructs Migration Organizers to encourage eligible households to discuss the offer with their friends and neighbors and to note that they will be revisited at a later time to ask if they would like to accept the offer.31

Offer meetings are monitored in the following ways:

  • RDRS Monitoring Officers attend a sample of offer meetings. RDRS managerial staff, such as Branch Managers and the No Lean Season Project Manager, also attend some offer meetings.32
  • Evidence Action monitoring staff attend a sample of offer meetings and track whether Migration Organizers convey key pieces of information.33
  • At a sample of offer meetings, Evidence Action monitoring staff conduct a post-offer-meeting survey asking about attendees' comprehension of the program and perception of any pressure involved in the offer meeting. The goals of this exercise include monitoring Migration Organizers' compliance with the offer script and attendee's perceptions and comprehension.34 Evidence Action monitoring staff sample meeting attendees both from meetings that were observed by monitoring staff and from meetings that were unobserved by monitoring staff.35

GiveWell staff observed a portion of an offer meeting while on a site visit in 2017.36

Post-meeting household offers

After the offer meeting stage of the program, Migration Organizers revisit all eligible households: those that attended the offer meeting and those that did not. If a household states that they are interested in the program, but not ready to accept the offer at this time, or if a household states that they are not interested in the program, the Migration Organizer is instructed to make the offer to the household a total of three times (including the offer meeting if the household attended). If a household does not accept to participate in the program after the third offer, they are not revisited again that year, and their case management file is closed.37

Evidence Action's current monitoring plans do not include activities designed to monitor Migration Organizers' post-meeting household-level interactions.38

Subsidy disbursement

Migration Organizers fill out an electronic loan application form39 for every household which accepts the subsidy offer. The first part of the form consists of basic and identifying information, including taking a photograph of the applicant and of the applicant's identity documentation,40 and is filled out at the household.41 Our impression is that this generally occurs during the household re-visit when the household accepts the offer, as described above.

According to the offer script, Migration Organizers explain the loan disbursement process to households as follows:42

  • Loans are disbursed from the local RDRS branch office. Evidence Action has clarified that for some villages particularly far from a branch office, disbursements are arranged to take place in the village; we have not reviewed how this decision is made. (Villages eligible for the program were selected on the basis of being less than one hour's bicycle ride from an RDRS branch office.)43
  • There is a window of opportunity for collecting the loan disbursement: in 2017, Evidence Action has told us that the loan availability period has been extended through the end of December.
  • The person intending to migrate must themself apply to receive the loan disbursement, must be over 18 years of age, and must have identification. We are not certain to what extent the identification requirement for loan disbursement is a barrier to uptake. Our impression is that possession of some acceptable form of ID (such as a national ID card, a birth registration certificate, or a voter number) is common in the target population.44
  • Households are asked to notify the Migration Organizer one day in advance of traveling to the branch office to receive the loan, so that RDRS can manage the supply of funds and volume of visitors.
  • Our understanding is that RDRS branch offices may offer No Lean Season loan disbursements on only some days of the week.45

Three RDRS staff members are involved in disbursement at the branch office: the Migration Organizer, the Branch Manager, and an accountant. During our visit to the program in 2017, we observed the following process for loan disbursement:

  • The Migration Organizer works with the loan applicant to fill out the second part of the loan application on the Migration Organizer's smartphone.46 This includes verifying the applicant's identity, and asking the applicant to report their expected migration destination.47 The RDRS Branch Manager observes every loan application, and the Migration Organizer, the Branch Manager, and the loan applicant must all sign the electronic loan application form on the smartphone.48
  • The Migration Organizer provides some advice on migration to the loan applicant.49
  • The loan applicant proceeds to an RDRS accountant, who manages a paper registry book. Our understanding is that maintaining this paper registry book is a legal requirement.50 A duty stamp (record of tax paid) is also legally required on records of debt in Bangladesh; for No Lean Season loans, this duty is 10 taka.51 The accountant collects the loan applicant's signature or fingerprint in the registry book alongside the record of the date, loan amount disbursed, and duty stamp.52 Then, the accountant disburses the loan funds (1500 Bangladeshi taka) to the applicant.53

The amount of cash disbursed as part of the No Lean Season program is tallied by each branch office and aggregated up to the area office level and then to the district (unit) office level.54

For villages that are farthest from an RDRS branch office, the No Lean Season program may coordinate a loan disbursement meeting in the village.55 No Lean Season told us that, in 2017, 1% of villages qualified for a loan disbursement meeting (because they were further than 12 kilometers from a branch office).56

Evidence Action observes disbursements by making random, unannounced visits to branch offices during the disbursement period. These visits seek to verify that Migration Organizers are adhering to procedures, and to interview recipients to assess their understanding of loan conditions.57 As of this writing, we have not seen results of these monitoring activities, as they are ongoing. Evidence Action's goals for the loan disbursement verification survey are to verify the proportion of travel subsidy recipients who:58

  • attended an offer meeting
  • come from eligible households
  • report receiving the correct amount of cash and who match the photo/ID in RDRS records
  • are 18 years of age or above
  • can accurately relay information related to the subsidy and loan repayment

Migration compliance monitoring: verification and post-migration survey

Migration Organizers verify program participants' migration status via regular household visits. First, Migration Organizers ask approximately three neighbors about the migration status of a household; then, Migration Organizers visit the household.59

When a household visit indicates that a migrant has returned from migration and that they do not intend to migrate again this year, the Migration Organizer administers a migration debrief survey. The survey asks specific questions about the migrant's ability to find work during their first migration episode this season, as well as their overall migration experience and earnings this season. If a household did not send a migrant, the Migration Organizer records the reasons they report for not migrating.60

Evidence Action also plans to monitor migration compliance by surveying a sample of households. This monitoring plan is still under development, and may involve surveying both eligible and ineligible households in order to understand migration throughout the village. Evidence Action may also conduct this migration debrief survey in villages not reached by the intervention in a given year in order to assess the rate of re-migration in the absence of an additional subsidy.61

Loan recovery and loan forgiveness

Program participants are asked to repay the loan amount within one week of returning from migration.62 After confirming that a program participant has returned from migration, Migration Organizers make household visits in order to remind them of the need to repay within a week and to collect the repayment. Migration Organizers provide the household with a signed repayment acknowledgement receipt for each repayment.63

Migration Organizers are told that loans may be repaid in up to three installments;64 our understanding is that this is conveyed to program participants if they ask.65

No Lean Season loans are to some degree limited liability; our understanding is that this is conveyed to program participants if they ask.66 According to Evidence Action, the following are non-exhaustive examples of circumstances under which loan forgiveness is considered and granted:67

  • The prospective migrant was unable to travel because of illness, injury, death, or other catastrophic event.
  • The migrant traveled but did not find work.
  • The migrant traveled, found work, but earned less than twice the amount of the loan.
  • The migrant traveled but incurred a serious accident or illness that restricted them from working.68

RDRS staff discussed with us the challenges of communicating about loan forgiveness.69 Our understanding is that Migration Organizers do not have the authority to grant loan forgiveness. Rather, Evidence Action has told us that Migration Organizers collect information supporting why the participant requests loan forgiveness and the decision is made centrally.70 We are uncertain about the details of how management decides whether or not to grant loan forgiveness. In 2016, 97.81% of loan capital was repaid,71 suggesting that loan forgiveness is rare, but it is unclear if this is due to high rates of migration success, lack of knowledge among recipients about the possibility of loan forgiveness in certain circumstances, possible pressure by Migration Organizers, or branch management denying loan forgiveness applications. Whether or not the loan is forgiven, the Migration Organizer will cease to visit that household for loan repayment after the end of the program cycle, at which point outstanding loan balances are written off as unreceivable.72

It is our understanding that Migration Organizers are on salary and do not receive financial incentives to achieve higher repayment rates.73 We have not seen information on whether Migration Organizers who achieve higher repayment rates are evaluated more favorably or are more likely to be retained.

Evidence Action plans to conduct a loan recovery verification survey to monitor loan repayment rates, Migration Organizers' adherence to the protocol, and any pressure reported by program participants.74 We have not seen the questionnaire for this monitoring survey.

All sources for No Lean Season review

Section last updated: June 2018

Document Source
Akram, Chowdhury and Mobarak 2017 Source (archive)
Bryan, Chowdhury and Mobarak 2014 Source (archive)
EA Fund Payout Report, September 2017: No Lean Season Grant Source (archive)
Evidence Action 2016-2017 revenue and expenditures Source
Evidence Action memo to GiveWell, 23 October 2017 Unpublished
Evidence Action No Lean Season - 2016 Program Round Actual Expense Breakdown (Unpublished) Unpublished
Evidence Action webpage: "What We Do" Source (archive)
Evidence Action webpage: The solution: No Lean Season Source (archive)
Evidence Action webpage: What is Evidence Action Beta? Source (archive)
GiveWell's 2012 site visit to Dispensers for Safe Water Source
GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season Unpublished
GiveWell's summary of No Lean Season's 2016 spending Source
Improving Design and Delivery of Migration Stipend Program in Northern Bangladesh Unpublished
Information System of the Laws of Bangladesh Source (archive)
Information System of the Laws of Bangladesh: Bangladeshi Stamp Act of 1899 Source (archive)
Information System of the Laws of Bangladesh: Chapter II section 3 of the Stamp Act of 1899 Source (archive)
Information System of the Laws of Bangladesh: Schedule I of the Stamp Act of 1899 Source (archive)
Innovations for Poverty Action webpage: Evidence Action launch press release Source (archive)
Khandker 2012 Source (archive)
Khandker and Mahmud 2012 Source (archive)
Mobarak, Reimão and Shenoy 2017 Source
No Lean Season 2013 note about hartals and low migration rates Source
No Lean Season 2016 Analysis Plan for Selecting Target Households Source
No Lean Season 2016 Household Targeting Questionnaire Source
No Lean Season 2016 Loan Application Form Source
No Lean Season 2016 Migration Debrief Survey Source
No Lean Season 2016 program costs Unpublished
No Lean Season 2016 Program Data Codebook Source
No Lean Season 2016 summary of data Source
No Lean Season 2016 summary of data (guide) Source
No Lean Season 2016 Survey Guidelines & FAQ for the Household Targeting Questionnaire Source
No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation Unpublished
No Lean Season 2017 Offer Meeting Script Source
No Lean Season 2017 Preliminary Monitoring Results: Household Targeting Source
No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework Source
No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework Spreadsheet Source
No Lean Season Budget Projections Source
No Lean Season CommCare Design Graphic Source
No Lean Season Household Survey Verification Questionnaire Source
No Lean Season Research Timeline Source
RDRS Bangladesh 2016 Annual Report Source (archive)
RDRS Bangladesh webpage: RDRS in Brief Source (archive)
RDRS Bangladesh webpage: Where We Work Source (archive)
  • 1.

    "Village surveys are used to profile and geolocate all the prospective villages in which No Lean Season may operate. RDRS identifies the list of villages within each particular catchment area. A catchment area includes all villages located within an hour's bicycle distance from a specific RDRS branch office." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 3.

  • 2.

    "Village surveys: Village surveys are used to profile and geo-locate all the prospective villages in which No Lean Season may operate. RDRS identifies the list of villages within each particular catchment area. A catchment area includes all villages located within an hour's bicycle distance from a specific RDRS branch office.
    "Migration Organizers then conduct a survey of a Village Elder in each village according to predefined guidelines." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 3.

  • 3.

    "At scale, we estimate that one third of the villages in any particular catchment area will participate in the program each year. The program will rotate to include different villages each year, beginning the cycle again once all villages in a catchment area have been reached." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 3.

  • 4.
    • No Lean Season Budget Projections, tab "Scenarios" (unpublished). For 2017, "Total # of BOs" is 50 and "Total # of villages per year" is listed as 600 with a clarifying note: "Actual 608; this will increase after the survey completes but maybe over the 624 village number because we expanded to 1/2 villages in some branches and we should figure out how to account for that this year and consider whether it will happen in the future."
    • "This year, we randomly sampled 104 disbursement days (or 2 disbursement days per branch)" No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 4.
    • We infer from these two sources that No Lean Season projected operating 50 branch offices and in fact grew to 52 offices in 2017.
  • 5.

    No Lean Season Budget Projections, tab "Assumptions" (unpublished) includes these estimates, as well as a frequency chart showing the distribution of the number of villages per branch office, based on 2017 program data.

  • 6.

    Evidence Action staff confirmed these 2017 eligibility criteria.

  • 7.

    "Household surveys are conducted in all the villages that are selected to participate in the program. Household surveys are used to identify which households are eligible to receive the travel subsidies. Household surveys are conducted by RDRS Migration Organizers using the household survey tool." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 3.

  • 8.
    • We have not seen the 2017 household eligibility census questionnaire. However, Evidence Action staff have told us that, like the 2016 household eligibility census, the survey collects data from an adult household member.
    • We have seen guidelines for the 2016 household eligibility census: "You have to ensure that you collect data from a working member or at least from someone who knows most about the working member of the HH. Working members are those that participate in the labor market for wage labor or work/manage their own enterprise (e.g. farm, shop, cottage industry, etc). You, for instance, SHOULD talk to the wife or the elder son in case the working member is not at home. You, however, SHOULD NOT interview under-aged (less than 16 years old) member of the HHs. Also, you MUST NOT talk to neighbor or any other persons to get information on the Question # 9-22. However, you may fill in the first eight (08) questions (until the Question # 8) by asking the closest neighbors/ relatives of the household." No Lean Season 2016 Survey Guidelines & FAQ for the Household Targeting Questionnaire, Pg 3.
  • 9.

    We have not seen the 2017 household eligibility census questionnaire. However Evidence Action staff have told us that the survey collects data regarding (a) land ownership and (b) missed meals in a period just prior to the survey. We have seen the 2016 household eligibility census questionnaire, and discuss it in the footnote below.

  • 10.
  • 11.
    • "For household survey, we will use two stage sampling where we first select the village and then the household. Samples for these events will be selected to meet 95% confidence level (CL) and 5% margin of error (MoE)." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework Spreadsheet, tab "Sampling plan."
    • In September 2017, GiveWell spoke with Evidence Action's nine monitoring staff members in Bangladesh. They had recently completed the Household Targeting Verification Survey and described the process for this monitoring activity. Evidence Action randomly selected a sample of households from the full list compiled in the course of the household eligibility census, and communicated this list to the monitoring staff. Monitors were required to begin sampling at each of the randomly selected households, then to follow a "left hand rule" to count houses to the left of the starting house, and to subsequently sample the fifth and tenth houses. Evidence Action monitors that houses are counted as clearly visible buildings (if multiple households live in one structure, they would still be counted as one house for the purposes of counting towards the next house to sample). Evidence Action monitors told us that they are required to sample the first household (the household selected by Evidence Action), and hence will return if no adult household member is present at the time of the survey; they may ask neighbors or children over 12 when an adult household member will return. However, if no one is present in the fifth house, they are permitted to instead sample the sixth house (and so on), and subsequently to begin counting five more houses from that point in order to sample a third house in the sampling series. Evidence Action monitors described to us that when counting left-hand houses, if no more houses remain in a village cluster, the monitor turns and from that point begins counting on their new left side (formerly their right side). Evidence Action monitors told us that if they are unsure whether a house belongs to a village cluster (for example, it is remotely visible from other houses), they will inquire with nearby neighbors, and told us that neighbors are generally clearly aware of which houses are part of their village cluster or not. If an adult household member declines to participate in the survey, monitors move on to sample the next household to the left. One male monitor told us that he had experienced a small number (3 to 4 out of 118) of refusals, because adult household members present during the survey are more likely to be women than men. The female monitors told us they had never experienced refusal to participate in the survey. Evidence Action monitors told us that each survey takes 5 to 6 minutes. GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season
  • 12.
    • "This year, a total of 748 households were randomly sampled for the migration compliance verification survey using a two-stage random sampling, similar to that of the Household Targeting verification survey. In other words, we randomly sample 123 villages and randomly select 6 households per village." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 5.
    • Evidence Action projected that 183,000 households would be reached in the household eligibility census. No Lean Season Budget Projections, tab "Budget Projections," row "Total # of HHs per year" for 2017. We note that this projection may differ from the actual number of households reached with the eligibility census in 2017.
      • 748 / 183,000 = 0.41%
    • We have seen Evidence Action use a denominator of 206,774 households reached in the household eligibility census, which we expect is an update to the projected 183,000 households reached.
      • 748 / 206,774 = 0.36%
  • 13.

    No Lean Season 2017 Preliminary Monitoring Results: Household Targeting

  • 14.

    We have seen an outline of this process from 2016: No Lean Season 2016 Analysis Plan for Selecting Target Households.

  • 15.

    In 2016, (1) household listings with missing entries for critical eligibility criteria were removed from the dataset and not considered for eligibility and (2) households with duplicate listings were considered eligible if at least one of the listings was eligible:

    "1,381 households (not removing duplicates) had at least one of the three eligibility criteria missing/inputted incorrectly and/or had an issue where the migration history for the listed working members were not provided - these households were removed from the eligibility tests and 32,080 households (not removing duplicates) were considered for eligibility... Removal of duplicate households was addressed after eligibility was determined: For the households with duplicate observations, the eligibility for each observation within one household was checked for consistency - if one household had inconsistent results for eligibility (e.g. one observation states 'eligible' and the other states 'ineligible' or one observation states 'eligible' and the other is 'missing'), the household was marked as 'eligible'" No Lean Season 2016 Analysis Plan for Selecting Target Households, Pg 1. Further detail and discussion is available in that document.

  • 16.

    Evidence Action staff confirmed that these are the eligibility criteria used in 2017.

  • 17.

    No Lean Season Budget Projections, tab "Budget Projections," column "2017" (unpublished), ratio of "Total # of eligible households" to "Total # of HHs per year" (households targeted by the eligibility survey): 140,061 / 183,000 = 77%. These figures are estimates made by No Lean Season.

  • 18.

    "The experiment was conducted in 133 randomly selected villages in Kurigram and Lalmonirhat districts of Rangpur. We first conducted village censuses to identify all households that would be "eligible" to receive this intervention in each of these villages. A household was deemed eligible if (1) it owned less than 0.5 acres of land, and (2) it reported back in 2008 that a member had experienced hunger (i.e., skipped meals) during the 2007 monga season. We focused on landownership because land is the most important component of wealth in rural Bangladesh, and it is easily measurable and verifiable. We used the second question on skipping meals to avoid professional, non-agricultural households (who may not own much land, but who are comparatively well off). Our census data suggest that about 57% of households in these villages were eligible to receive the intervention after applying these two criteria." Akram, Chowdhury and Mobarak 2017, Pg 7.

  • 19.

    GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

  • 20.

    More detail: In order to keep offer meetings at a manageable size, Migration Organizers limit the number of households invited to each offer meeting to 50. Therefore, in some villages multiple offer meetings may be scheduled. As offer meetings are open to the public, and others in the village may be interested to learn about the program, attendance at offer meetings is not limited and may exceed 50 people.

    GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

  • 21.
  • 22.

    "REMIND the invited eligibles once again just an hour before the meeting," No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module2_form3." We also heard this mentioned during GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season.

  • 23.

    GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

  • 24.

    "[Note to MO: Make sure that more than 70% of the invited eligibles are present in the meeting before starting the meeting]" No Lean Season 2017 Offer Meeting Script, Pg 1, and No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module2_form1."

  • 25.
  • 26.
    • "With a list of eligible households available from Evidence Action, RDRS Migration Organizers communicate offers to eligible households using an Offer Script. The subsidies are offered as interest free conditional soft loans. The condition for receiving the money is a commitment to migrating. Migration Organizers extend the offer while communicating the risks and benefits associated with migration. Eligible households who are approached with an offer are free to decline the offer. The Migration Organizers record acceptances and refusals of offers in the offer form." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pgs 3-4.
    • No Lean Season has shared with us the full English text of the No Lean Season 2017 Offer Meeting Script.
  • 27.
  • 28.

    Migration Organizers are trained on how to answer frequently asked questions, and some answers are included in the mobile data collection application for reference. See No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module2_form2."

  • 29.
      No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module2_form2." Translation provided by Evidence Action staff:
    • "Q: What if I die after taking the loan? Or get seriously injured/sick? A: Firstly, we do not wish you to die! However, in such case (god prohibits), you (or your household) will not be asked to pay us back the money."
    • "Q: What if after migration I cannot find work and therefore, cannot earn any money? A: We suggest you to try out at this moment. We hope that you will be able to find work and earn, if you are serious enough. However, we cannot guarantee that you will get work and earn handsome amount through seasonal migration. We will see if you really made a try to work but couldn't manage a good fortune; we will take measures accordingly then. Now we cannot give you exact information, but we can guarantee that each situation will be processed by RDRS on a case-by-case basis, taking into account your situation and any difficulties you faced by no means you will be harmed (financially) participating in the project. But again, we hope that you will be able to find work and earn after you migrate."
  • 30.

    At this stage, each household acquires two new properties in the CommCare case management system: offer status, tracking whether the household has accepted, rejected, or expressed interest in the offer, and offer count, tracking how many times the household has been contacted with the offer to participate in the program. See No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tabs "module3" and "module3_form1."

  • 31.

    "Please take the time necessary to think about this offer, and discuss it with your family and friends. Note that it is common for people to migrate in groups. You may want to talk to other people in your village and other people at this meeting about their plans to migrate. We can wait for your decision until November 30 this year, unless you live in a village that is far from a Branch Office. If that is the case, we will organize another group meeting in your village where you will be able to get the loan instead of having to travel to a Branch Office.

    "However, those who have taken a decision already, please tell me your name. I will make sure that we have a faster disbursement for you.

    "If you are interested, you are welcome to come to our Branch Office <branch name and location> between <dates> to receive the loan. Before that, however, I will come back to your village again to fill out a short loan application form for those who are interested." No Lean Season 2017 Offer Meeting Script, Pg 3.

  • 32.

    GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

  • 33.
    • "To verify that households have been provided with all the relevant information necessary for making an informed decision about whether to accept the offer, Evidence Action carries out offer meeting observations for a random sample of offer meetings, and then interviews a random sub-sample of participants post-meeting.
      "Offer meetings were randomly sampled for the observation survey. During observations, Evidence Action enumerators collect data on whether the Migration Organizer followed protocol and covered key aspects of the script for the offer meeting, as well as collect data on attendance to ascertain who and how many people are attending offer meetings." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 4.
    • Evidence Action's monitoring plans include visits to approximately 104 offer meetings. No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework Spreadsheet, tab "Sampling plan."
    • GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season
  • 34.
    • "To verify that households have been provided with all the relevant information necessary for making an informed decision about whether to accept the offer, Evidence Action carries out offer meeting observations for a random sample of offer meetings, and then interviews a random sub-sample of participants post-meeting.
      "Offer meetings were randomly sampled for the observation survey. During observations, Evidence Action enumerators collect data on whether the Migration Organizer followed protocol and covered key aspects of the script for the offer meeting, as well as collect data on attendance to ascertain who and how many people are attending offer meetings. Additionally, four eligible households were sampled per Migration Organizers for the post-meeting survey; two participants from the observed offer meeting and two other eligible households that were scheduled to attend another offer meeting, but where the offer meeting is unobserved. Evidence Action uses these surveys to assess offer recipients' understanding of key information about the subsidy and checks that they were not pressured into accepting the subsidy. In total, this year, Evidence Action randomly sampled 104 offer meetings for observation and 416 eligible households for post-meeting surveys." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 4.
    • No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework Spreadsheet, tab "Sampling plan" shows a sample of ˜104 offer meetings and 416 offer meeting participants in support of the verification goals of "Migration Organizers adhere to offer meeting script (e.g. no coercion in taking-up loan offer); Eligible households attend offer meetings; Eligible households correctly understand the offer and loan conditions."
    • When we spoke with Evidence Action monitoring staff, they described selecting two offer meeting attendees, checking against a list of eligible households assigned to this meeting, and replacing them if they did not represent eligible, assigned households. GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season
    • Evidence Action has told us that it is also monitoring offer meetings by sampling eligible, invited households on a subsequent day, and asking questions about comprehension and pressure without the Migration Organizer in the near vicinity.
    • As of this writing, we have not seen results of this monitoring.
  • 35.

    "Additionally, four eligible households were sampled per Migration Organizers for the post-meeting survey; two participants from the observed offer meeting and two other eligible households that were scheduled to attend another offer meeting, but where the offer meeting is unobserved. Evidence Action uses these surveys to assess offer recipients' understanding of key information about the subsidy and checks that they were not pressured into accepting the subsidy." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 4.

  • 36.

    GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

  • 37.

    "You have now provided an offer to this household 3 times and they have indicated they are interested in the program. You will not return to this household again so please confirm whether they would like to accept the offer or not as this is their last chance to participate in the program," and "You have provided an offer to this households 3 times and they are not interested in participating in the program. Please thank this household for their time. Select the close button below to close this households case," and "Close Households Case." No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module3_form1."

  • 38.

    Evidence Action's monitoring plans for the offer stage of the program are described in No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pgs 3-4 and in No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework Spreadsheet, tab "FullFramework," lines 19-21. These describe monitoring of offer meetings but do not describe activities specifically aimed at monitoring Migration Organizers' post-meeting household-level interactions.

  • 39.

    For examples, see the paper version, No Lean Season 2016 Loan Application Form, and the electronic version, No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module5_form2."

  • 40.

    No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module5_form1" includes the collection of detailed family information, as well as the applicant's National ID (NID) number, "National Identification Card/ Birth Certificate Image Capture," and "Take Photo of applicant."

  • 41.

    Migration Organizers are instructed to mention that part of the loan application form will be filled out during a household visit: "If you are interested, you are welcome to come to our Branch Office <branch name and location> between <dates> to receive the loan. Before that, however, I will come back to your village again to fill out a short loan application form for those who are interested." No Lean Season 2017 Offer Meeting Script, Pg 3.

  • 42.

    "We can wait for your decision until November 30 this year, unless you live in a village that is far from a Branch Office. If that is the case, we will organize another group meeting in your village where you will be able to get the loan instead of having to travel to a Branch Office.

    "However, those who have taken a decision already, please tell me your name. I will make sure that we have a faster disbursement for you.

    "If you are interested, you are welcome to come to our Branch Office <branch name and location> between <dates> to receive the loan. Before that, however, I will come back to your village again to fill out a short loan application form for those who are interested. When you come to the Branch Office to collect the loan, you must bring your National ID Card with you.

    "Anytime between August and November, you can come to the Branch Office to get the loan amount. But just ONE DAY before coming, please give me a phone call so that I can arrange the money for you.

    ...

    "If you want this migration loan for another working member of your family (instead of yourself), please bring him/her with you to the Branch Office. Please make sure that s/he is 18 or more years old and s/he brings a copy of his/her National ID Card with him/her too. If that member doesn't have any National ID Card, please ask him/her to bring his/her Birth Certificate/ Voter Number document. The money will be disbursed only to the person who will apply and ideally, the same person would migrate afterwards. It is not possible to get the money on someone else's behalf."

    No Lean Season 2017 Offer Meeting Script, Pg 3.

  • 43.

    "Village surveys are used to profile and geolocate all the prospective villages in which No Lean Season may operate. RDRS identifies the list of villages within each particular catchment area. A catchment area includes all villages located within an hour's bicycle distance from a specific RDRS branch office." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 3.

  • 44.
    • GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season
    • "Interviewees were asked about their use of services traditionally provided by their union parishad, a small administrative unit usually covering a handful of villages. Unlike many other developing country contexts, almost all respondents in this sample have received a voter ID card as well as a birth certificate from this entity." Mobarak, Reimão and Shenoy 2017 Pg 4.
        See the table on Pg 5:
      • "Have you ever received a voter card from your union parishad?": 0.99
      • "Have you ever received a national ID card from your union parishad?": 0.52
      • "Have you ever received a birth certificate from your union parishad?": 0.98
  • 45.

    GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

  • 46.
    • "Fill-out Part 2: Subsidy Disbursement on CommCare for the interested candidates right on the disbursement spot.
    • Ensure that the applicant and recipient are the same person by verifying National ID card/picture on CommCare
    • Ensure that the recipient is above 18 years old
    • Fill-out Part 2: Subsidy Disbursement in CommCare for the interested candidates at the time of disbursement."

    No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module4_form1."

  • 47.

    No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module5_form2."

  • 48.
    • "Please hand tablet to applicant to read and sign"
    • "I, hereby, declare that on the date of < output value="format-date(date(/data/subsidy_disbursement/date_subsidy_received), ' % a, % b % e, % Y')"/ >" I got information about an interest-free loan facilities from RDRS Bangladesh. I am fully agreed with the condition and thereby, interested to take the interest-free loan of amount 1500 Tk (One thousand five hundred taka).
      "I also declare that after taking the interest-free loan, I will migrate outside of my upazila for at least seven days for working there. RDRS won't be liable for any of my illegal activities/accidents during my migration. I vow to return the interest-free loan back by < output value="/data/subsidy_disbursement/date_repayment"/ > "
    • "Migration Organiser Signature"
    • "Branch Manager Signature"
    • "Recipient Signature Required"

    No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module5_form2."

  • 49.

    "Sensitize recipients with DOs and DON'Ts of migration:

    • DON'T travel on the roof of bus/train
    • DON'T consume foods/drinks from unknown persons while traveling
    • DRINK safe water in the destination
    • USE safe sanitation in the destination
    • DON'T get engaged in any immoral/illegal/criminal/political activities in the destination places
    • KEEP contact number of the MO, Union Parishad Chairmen and Ward Member and CONTACT to them in case you have any administrative troubles
    • During migration, KEEP a photocopy of your national ID card (or birth certificate) duly attested by the respective ward member or union parishad chairman and produce that to the authority in case you have any problem. The document, in addition, must have the phone number of the attesting ward member or union parishad chairman"

    No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module4_form1."

  • 50.

    GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

  • 51.
  • 52.

    "Collect signature/fingerprint of the interested candidate on the Registry Book." No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module4_form1." We observed an example of this registry book during GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season.

  • 53.

    "Disburse the money to the candidate." No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module4_form1." We observed this process during GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season. We were told that the denomination of bills may vary: applicants may receive one 1,000-taka note and one 500-taka note, or three 500-taka notes. GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

  • 54.

    GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

  • 55.
    • "We can wait for your decision until November 30 this year, unless you live in a village that is far from a Branch Office. If that is the case, we will organize another group meeting in your village where you will be able to get the loan instead of having to travel to a Branch Office." No Lean Season 2017 Offer Meeting Script, Pg 3.
    • "[For remote villages only] We will organize another group meeting in your village where you will be able to get the loan instead of having to travel to a Branch Office. The meeting will take place on <date> at <location>. Please try to attend this meeting with necessary documents if you want to get our interest-­free loan. If you are not able to attend, you will have to travel to the Branch Office to get the loan. We won't be able to arrange such disbursement meetings twice in your village." No Lean Season 2017 Offer Meeting Script, Pgs 3-4.
    • 56.

      "At-village distribution occurs specifically in villages which are farther than 12 km from the branch office. The date and location of the at-village disbursement is communicated in advance at the offer group meeting(s). At-village disbursements will occur in 10 villages this year. This is approximately 1% of the total villages included in this year's program." Natalie Duarte, Evidence Action Beta Research Analyst, email to GiveWell, November 14, 2017

    • 57.

      "At the time of disbursement, it is important that subsidy recipients are able to accurately recall key information about the subsidy - including the terms of loan repayment. To verify this key step, Evidence Action makes random, unannounced visits to branch offices during the disbursement process. During these visits, loan disbursement procedures are observed and verified, and loan recipients are interviewed to assess whether they have a correct understanding about the terms of the loan repayment.

      "Similar to the verification activities for offer meetings, Evidence Action conducts an observation survey and a loan recipient post-survey. Both the observation and recipient surveys assess whether the proper protocols were carried out during the disbursements and whether the recipient understood the conditions of the loan. In addition, these verification activities check that only eligible households receive the loan, that each eligible household received a maximum of one stipend of the correct amount, and that the recipient matches the photo and ID in RDRS records.

      "This year, we randomly sampled 104 disbursement days (or 2 disbursement days per branch) and randomly sampled an estimated 416 loan recipients (or an average of 4 recipients per disbursement day). Loan disbursement verification is currently an on-going activity and will conclude December 31, 2017." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 4.

    • 58.

      No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework Spreadsheet, tab "FullFramework." Lines with data source "Loan disbursment verification survey" are the following "Indicators of Achievement":

      • "% of loan recipients who attended offer meeting"
      • "% of travel subsidy recipients who come from eligible households (independent monitoring)"
      • "% of travel subsidy recipients who report receiving the correct amount and who match the photo / ID in RDRS records"
      • "% of travel subsidy recipeints who are 18 years of age or above (independent monitoring)"
      • "% of recipients who understand and can accurately relay information related to the subsidy and loan repayment (independent monitoring)"
    • 59.

      Evidence Action staff confirmed for us that Migration Organizers visit approximately three neighbors to ask whether a loan recipient has migrated, then visit the loan recipient's household. See also No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module6_form1."

    • 60.

      For a paper version used in 2016, see No Lean Season 2016 Migration Debrief Survey. For the electronic version used in 2017, see No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module8_form1."

    • 61.
      • "Migration Compliance: Migration Organizers use the migration compliance survey to ascertain whether subsidy recipients actually migrate.

        This key performance metric will be verified by Evidence Action by visiting a sample of households and conducting a supplementary interview to assess the incidence of migration. In this stage, we may draw the sample from the entire set of HHs surveyed (both eligible and ineligible households) in order to understand migration rates across the entire community. In steady state, we would also like to estimate the rate at which beneficiaries of the program re-migrate in the years following their receipt of the subsidy, even without the program intervention." No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pgs 4-5.

      • No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework Spreadsheet, tab "FullFramework" refers to "Migration verification survey" as the source of monitoring for the indicators "% of households receiving a travel subsidy that send a migrant during a lean season (independent monitoring)," and "% of non-eligible and/or non-recipient households in a village sending a migrant." Additionally, this document refers to "% of households that received a travel subsidy and migrated, that continue to migrate in subsequent years" as measured by "Migration verification survey (in later years)."
      • No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework Spreadsheet, tab "Sampling plan" states the verification goals of migration verification as "Working age member of the eligible households who received the loan migrate" and "Migration Organizers adhere to migration compliance visit script."
    • 62.

      GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

    • 63.

      "Please confirm a receipt has been given for this payment," "If you have not yet provided a receipt please do so before proceeding." No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module7_form1."

    • 64.
      • "How will the repayment be paid back?" includes the response "Instalments," and "How many instalments will the applicant pay back the loan in?" includes the note "The maximum instalments an applicant can pay the loan back in is 3." No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module7_form1."
      • Evidence Action has told us that loans may be repaid in up to three installments within two months of a migrant's return.
    • 65.

      There is no mention of the option to repay in installments in the No Lean Season 2017 Offer Meeting Script. However, Migration Organizers' guidance for frequently asked questions includes: "Q: Can I repay the loan on installment basis? A: Yes. We prefer to recover the money at once upon your return from migration, but if you need to pay on installments, we can allow maximum 3 installments for this amount within the stipulated time (January 31st)." No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module2_form2."

    • 66.

      There is no mention of the limited liability nature of the loan in the No Lean Season 2017 Offer Meeting Script, however, Migration Organizers' guidance for frequently asked questions includes: "Q: What if I die after taking the loan? Or get seriously injured/sick?
      A: Firstly, we do not wish you to die! However, in such case (god prohibits), you (or your household) will not be asked to pay us back the money… Q: What if after migration I cannot find work and therefore, cannot earn any money? A: We suggest you to try out at this moment. We hope that you will be able to find work and earn, if you are serious enough. However, we cannot guarantee that you will get work and earn handsome amount through seasonal migration. We will see if you really made a try to work but couldn't manage a good fortune; we will take measures accordingly then. Now we cannot give you exact information, but we can guarantee that each situation will be processed by RDRS on a case-by-case basis, taking into account your situation and any difficulties you faced by no means you will be harmed (financially) participating in the project. But again, we hope that you will be able to find work and earn after you migrate." No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module2_form2."

    • 67.

      "Loan Recovery: Migration Organizers visit households to recover the subsidy amount from households that are able to pay. Migration Organizers record their visits to beneficiary households on the loan recovery form. Loan forgiveness is considered and granted, per agreed upon criteria, for recipients who:

      • a. Were unable to travel because of illness, injury, death, or other catastrophic event
      • b. Traveled and tried to find work, but were unsuccessful and would thus be worse off if they were obligated to repay the loan, and
      • c. Traveled, found work, but did not earn enough (i.e. twice as much as the loan amount) to repay the loan without incurring substantial financial hardship."

      No Lean Season 2017 Process and Performance Monitoring Framework, Pg 5.

    • 68.

      Evidence Action provided this additional example of a circumstance under which loan forgiveness would be considered and granted.

    • 69.

      GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

    • 70.

      See also (from Migration Organizers' guidance on frequently asked questions about the program): "Q: What if after migration I cannot find work and therefore, cannot earn any money? A: We suggest you to try out at this moment. We hope that you will be able to find work and earn, if you are serious enough. However, we cannot guarantee that you will get work and earn handsome amount through seasonal migration. We will see if you really made a try to work but couldn't manage a good fortune; we will take measures accordingly then. Now we cannot give you exact information, but we can guarantee that each situation will be processed by RDRS on a case-by-case basis, taking into account your situation and any difficulties you faced by no means you will be harmed (financially) participating in the project. But again, we hope that you will be able to find work and earn after you migrate." No Lean Season 2017 CommCare Module Translation, tab "module2_form2."

    • 71.

      No Lean Season 2016 summary of data, tab "(5) Recovery," row "Total Amount of Funds Recovered."

    • 72.

      GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

    • 73.

      GiveWell's 2017 site visit to No Lean Season

    • 74.