Demand and Supply Constraints to Sorghum Adoption in Burkina Faso (with Isabelle Diabire (INERA Burkina Faso), Estelle Plat (Innovations for Poverty Action), Maria Porter (Michigan State), Melinda Smale (Michigan State), Nicolo Tomaselli (Innovations for Poverty Action), Adama Traore (INERA Burkina Faso))

Supply and demand constraints reduce adoption of improved sorghum technology in the West African Sahel. We will work with sorghum breeders and agro-input suppliers in Burkina Faso to compare alternative mechanisms to encourage adoption of improved seed and fertilizer micro-packs. A demand side treatment will be targeted by social network characteristics to understand the information effects of farmer take-up and spillover based on social network characteristics from a randomized distribution of micro-packs.  A social network census will reveal the extent to which villagers insure one another against idiosyncratic risk specifically through exchange of seed, use of complementary inputs, intahousehold labor substitution and assets. The supply side of the randomized control trial will test whether consistent market supply, credit constraints and farmer commitment explain low adoption and potential supply side marketing mechanisms to increase adoption. Comparisons of the effects of demand and supply side interventions will inform the development of index insurance to insure farmers against risk. Finally, we will examine the gender dimensions of adoption. If technology adoption diverts women’s labor from their fields to sorghum fields, the household’s dietary diversity and women’s income may decline, as well as induce intrahousehold labor substitution among women and children. 


Blantyre Tracking of Former Malaria Project Survivors (with Terrie Taylor, Michigan State)

Malaria disease in young children has potential long term consequences on economic outcomes in their adulthood (Bleakley 2010, Barreca 2010).  While the economic literature has estimated the effects of potential exposure to malaria in utero and during childhood, more severe forms of malaria such as cerebral malaria, have higher mortality rates and potential larger impacts on adult educational attainment and labor outcomes because these severe forms of malaria potentially reduce children’s cognitive functioning.  The long term economic consequences of these severe cases are unknown.  From a policy perspective, severe cases of malaria require different policy responses than less severe forms of malaria.  For example, diagnostic capacity is critical in identifying severe forms of malaria for early diagnosis and patients with severe malaria require more intensive treatment and rehabilitation regimes than patients with uncomplicated cases of malaria.  It is necessary for national and international malaria control programs to understand the full costs of various malaria syndromes in children to make appropriate investments in prevention and control activities. 


The proposed study will exploit a quasi-experimental design by following up with children who were treated at the Blantyre Malaria Project’s research ward at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, a referral center for complicated cases in peri-urban Blantyre, Malawi.   The study team will track cerebral malaria survivors who were treated between 1989-1998 to their villages of origin or relocated village based on information contained in their medical records.  Two comparison groups will be created using a matched cohort of individuals who had either hospitalization, but non-severe cases of malaria or no cases of hospitalized malaria during their childhood based on parental recall.  As the severity of the malaria case is not predicated on behaviorial determinants and no preventative government programs existed in this area during the study period (National Malaria Control Program), severe and complicated malaria can be interpreted as an exogenous shock to the child’s health. Differential effects of malaria by disease syndrome in patients with meticulous diagnoses could potentially yield a more robust understanding of the full costs of malaria than (a) studies using retrospective preventative or time of birth identification strategies or (b) studies using presumptive variation in malaria exposure over time (Bleakley 2010 and Barreca 2010), rather than actual clinical diagnoses. 


Using this quasi-experimental design, the proposed study will estimate the effects of cerebral malaria on children’s long-term educational outcomes, labor market decisions and cognitive skills.  Estimates of cost of the treatment will be compared with differences in labor market and expected returns to education in Malawi for the treated and comparison groups.  These estimates will serve as a benchmark for potential investment in cerebral malaria treatment and further research into effective preventative malaria strategies.