Does 'shame-proofing' anti-poverty programmes improve their effectiveness? Theory of change and impact policy evaluation in cross-national settings

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Social Policy and Intervention

Abstract

Our ESRC/DFID funded research (RES-167-25-0557) suggested that shame associated with poverty is ubiquitous and structural being imposed by others in their dealings with people in poverty. Shame may serve to perpetuate poverty through eroding individual agency, while policies that stigmatise could be counterproductive in adding to the debilitating effects of shame.
This research has proved very influential, spawning replications and adding poverty-related shame to the topics covered by the ESRC 'Understanding Society' study, following the successful inclusion of questions in the ESRC 'Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK' survey. It also led directly to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) including the principle of governments having respect for the rights and dignity of social protection recipients in Recommendation 202 on social protection approved in 2012. The UN has cited the research to support its guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights.
However, while the previous research yielded a model hypothesising how shame and stigma might exacerbate poverty, the research was not designed to provide evidence of casual relationships. Hence, new research is proposed to rectify this omission by testing the effectiveness of social protection policies that have been 'shame-proofed' against those which have not. The robustness of the test is much enhanced by simultaneous replication in Uganda, India and China; each evaluation is sensitive to local circumstances, but shaped by a common theoretical framework with a core of standardised measures and comparable methods. In Uganda, theory of change evaluation, which employs diagnostic techniques to examine whether underlying logic of the policy works in practice, is combined with impact evaluation to measure the relative effectiveness (and value for money) of shame-proofing. Theory of change evaluations will be conducted in China and India with the prospect of impact evaluations being added with financial support from the ILO.
The research builds on a current study undertaken by the same research team, funded by the Norwegian Research Council, to develop the shame-proofed policies that are to be refined, implemented and evaluated in the proposed research. The evaluation will entail a mix of surveys, depth interviews, focus groups, investigative research and extraction of administrative records.
In addition to establishing whether shame-proofing is cost effective and whether the underpinning policy logic works in practice, the research will:
1 Advance poverty studies by conceptualising poverty as a multi-dimensional embracing material and psycho-social dimensions that take account of poverty dynamics. A person's score on each dimension determines the severity and nature of the poverty experienced at a point in time while scores at different times reflect how aspects of poverty are causality related - for example, material deprivation at time 1 might increase poverty related-shame at time 2.
2 Employ the family of statistical techniques called Structural Equation Models to measure poverty defined as above and to establish the effectiveness of social protection policies in reducing poverty.
3 Engage end-users and others in developing and refining shame-proofed policies consistent with the ILO and UN principles that also reflect local needs and voices.
Aside from the required Key Stakeholder Workshop, further policy seminars and public meetings are planned in Uganda, China and India to coincide with project planning meetings. Academic articles on the poverty-shame nexus and measurement will be accompanied by policy publications and templates for implementing policy consistent with ILO and UN guidelines.
In sum, the research engages directly with two of the three ESRC/DFID Call questions: 'Pathways in and out of poverty' and 'Political and institutional conditions' and both cross cutting issues: 'Structural inequalities' and 'Measurement'.

Planned Impact

Our previous research (RES-167-25-0557) has established expectations among three separate communities. First, the academic community has responded positively. With our support, Gary Parker, Mary McKay and Lawrence Aber at NYU are replicating the work in contrasting communities in New York, and Cleopas Sambo will do similar work in Zambia. Questions on poverty-related shame were successfully included in the ESRC 'Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK' study and have now been added to the ESRC 'Understanding Society' study following its recent long term content review. The proposed study seeks experimental evidence for the causal processes suggested by the earlier research.
Second, following a briefing seminar in 2012, the media have taken up the research supported in part by an ESRC Knowledge Exchange grant. Pegasus Theatre incorporated material in an education pack for UK schools associated with a production of a new play The Heap. Mediae inserted storylines in a TV soap opera Makutano Junction aired in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and the Media Trust produced a documentary shown on the Community Channel. Eon Productions are advising on the possibility of a documentary incorporating results from the US replication. We will use our established contacts to investigate a new documentary being made based on the proposed evaluations of shame-proofed policies.
Third, presentations of the research have been made to the ILO, World Bank, the United Nations, DFID and, as part of the impact plan included in the earlier research, to policy communities in Uganda, India, China, Norway and Britain. In direct response, the ILO added the principle of governments having respect for the rights and dignity of recipients of social protection to the historic Recommendation 202 approved by 185 countries in 2012 which provides a blueprint for social protection globally. Relevant staff in the World Bank and the current and former UN Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty have been briefed on this proposal as has the International Council for Social Welfare, a global consortium of NGOs focussed on social protection provisions.
The Millennium Development Goals are to be recast as the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 when it is anticipated that the important role of social protection will be highlighted. With limited resources, it is critical that policies are not only socially just, but cost effective. If the proposed research demonstrates that shame-proofing makes policies more cost effective, then it will supply an economic argument in support of a human rights approach to tackling poverty. It will offer guidance to governments, donors and NGOs as how to make the delivery of social protection more effective. Seminars with members of the policy community and public meetings are proposed in each of the three study countries to coincide with project planning meetings, a strategy that previously proved very productive and efficient. In addition, we will use the good auspices of the ILO to reach its global membership of governments, employers and trade unions as well as establishing an impact network of interested parties.
The ongoing VAM-funded project to develop shame-proofed implementations in Uganda, India and China is based on participatory principles and establishing working relationships and a commitment to implementing change. The first key stakeholder workshop in Uganda will, in our case, have retrospective and prospective elements, reviewing the collective learning that led to the creation of the shame-proofed implementations; and reinforcing the commitment to continual improvement and to the proposed ESRC/DFID funded monitoring and evaluation. This and subsequent workshops and public meetings in India and China will be attended by national and municipal policy makers, representatives of NGO and private sector providers, donors, end-users and academics.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Shame induced by poverty has been shown to exacerbate the negative consequences of poverty and it is suggested that anti-poverty programmes that are stigmatising contribute to shaming and are thereby not maximally effective. This research explored whether effectiveness could be enhanced through 'shame-proofing' anti-poverty policies in China, India and Uganda. Evaluations were based around a theory of change complemented by natural experimentation and ethnography in China, action research and process evaluation in India and quasi experimentation and process evaluation in Uganda.
Group-based microcredit systems aim to tackle poverty by increasing entrepreneurial activity. Small loans to individuals are secured on the willingness of all group members to make the necessary repayments, financial liability therefore rests on loan recipients not microcredit institutions. Preliminary study of a microcredit scheme in Uganda indicated many spaces for shaming, notably when group-members unable to sustain repayments on their loans were coerced into making payment by peers. Financial literacy training and mentoring support were thereby provided experimentally to bank clients in about half of the groups. This intervention initially had positive effects on individuals' attachment to their loan groups and these were sustained over the nine-month observation period, boosting commitment and weekly attendance. The intervention similarly benefited client's material well-being, making it easier to repay loans and to meet school fees on time. More profoundly, coincident with the intervention, and probably due to it, irregularities were identified in the bank's administration of the microfinance scheme including the alleged failure of staff to deposit repayments. The Bank responded by dismissing staff and reinstating and strengthening security procedures. Nevertheless, clients, angry at the loss of their savings and powerless to recover their money, left the bank in considerable numbers, especially from groups without mentoring. The discovery of irregularities necessarily weakened the power of the experiment by disrupting standard activities.
The intervention in India targeted poverty-related shame of the most profound kind: that experienced in the village labour market by women from the Dalit community with a heritage of bonded labour. In a hierarchical caste society demarcated by notions of relative purity and impurity, this community is exposed to structural discrimination and shaming. Joining with a civil society organisation in Karnataka, women freed from bondage and organised as self-help groups were provided with basic literacy training, and experimental groups with basic entrepreneurial training after being exposed to street theatre addressing the social issues confronted by them. While the intervention strengthened organisation of the self-help groups and stimulated attempts to transform them into sustainable economic collectives, further advance was frustrated by lack of capital, the limited resources of the civil-society partner, and resistance from local landlords.
In China, where modification of policy was precluded, the delivery of social assistance was observed in eight villages chosen for the diversity of their governance styles. While poverty has become heavily stigmatised since marketization- a break from the Confucian and Maoist past, receipt of social assistance (Dibao) is not so. This is because Dibao is 'cleansed' of its association with poverty by village cadre who have diverted resources from poverty relief to create a universal old-age pension and age-related disability benefit. Recipients were universally positive about receiving benefit, while criticisms by other villagers -even low-income non-recipients -were generally limited to villages characterised by lack of social cohesion and lax government and focussed primarily on allegations of corruption and non-transparent decision-making.
Exploitation Route The research emphasises the extreme vulnerability of people at the fringes of developing economies and the care needed in the design of policies designed to enhance their well-being. The interventions in India and Uganda grappled with basic literacy needs as well as lack of financial literacy and business acumen necessary for mainstream current, market-focussed anti-poverty programmes to be effective. They demonstrated need for investment in people if they are effectively to raise capital to support and sustain entrepreneurial activity. They demonstrated, as did the research in China, the importance of basic incomes and working capital, the structural exclusion of the most vulnerable and their exploitation by the unscrupulous even within programmes intended to help them.
Placing people, thought of as people with feelings, aspirations and abilities to be respected, at the centre of policy design and implementation is essential in the design and implementation of anti-poverty programmes. This conclusion echoes the rhetoric of organisations like the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the World Bank, the OECD and the International Council for Social Welfare with whom the research will be shared. The research findings contrasted the rhetoric and reality while offering mechanisms better to link them.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description The research engaged non-academic partners in India and Uganda who both responded to the outcomes of the research. In India, the NGO benefited from the collective development of an example of group-based entrepreneurial activity by groups of former bonded labourers. The organisation's goal was to provide groups with an alternative livelihood option for them. The research demonstrated the importance of developing other supportive structures such as marketing, capital investment etc. In Uganda, the identification of alleged irregularities in the administration of their group based micro-credit product led to a global review of security systems and their implementation. In China, the research process itself may have had a local level impact in increasing practitioner awareness. During fieldwork, the research hypothesis concerning the impact of stigma and shame on the effectiveness of social welfare delivery was explained to about 30 local government officials at the village, township and county level-- most said that they had never thought about such issues before.
First Year Of Impact 2017
 
Description Briefing of Chinese premier 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Foreign Experts Consultation Symposium on the drafting of the Work Report of the Chinese government; the State Council Research Office and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), People's Republic of China, 24-5th January
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.gtc.ox.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/robert-walker-meeting-chinese-premier-li-keqiang/
 
Description Dimensions of Poverty Scientific Advisory Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo as a member of the Dimensions of Poverty Scientific Advisory Board, attended a meeting dedicated to the international participatory research on the dimensions of poverty and how to measure them organized by the International Movement ATD Fourth World held on 11th of July 2018. New York. It was hosted by Ms. Francesca Perucci, Chief of the Statistical Services Branch at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and a member of Dimensions of Poverty Academic Advisory Board,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Engagement withChina Centre for International Knowledge on Development 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Principal discussant: International seminar on China's poverty alleviation experience, China Centre for International Knowledge on Development and DFID, Beijing, 5th March.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited lecture: Should Shame Shape Anti-Poverty Policy? Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid, The Hague 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited lecture: Should Shame Shape Anti-Poverty Policy? Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid, The Hague
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Policy seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A policy seminar engaging policy makers and poverty researchers in China around the theme: Delivering policy without shame, Seminar Tackling Poverty within China and Abroad: New Perspectives. The event was hosted by Beijing Normal University, 10th March 2018 and involved presentations by all members of the research team and leading Chinses scholars. It generated much debate, invitations to participate in further events in China and to undertake collaborative work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Power of Partnership conference in New Delhi 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Professors Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo and Sony Pellissery attended the conference Power of Partnership: Research to Alleviate Poverty, December 3-5th, 2018 New Delhi, India and presented a paper on 'Delivery of policy without shame: Shame-Proofing Micro-Finance Scheme in Uganda' based on the findings of our study on Shame-proofing anti-poverty Programmes: Micro Credit Community Banking in Uganda. At the conference a dragon challenge competition was held and we competed as a group of 5 countries with similar /projects (5 researchers: Grace Batenbya Kyomuhendo (Makerere University-Uganda), Caroline Ignacio (Promundo -Brazil), Peter Mackie (Cardiff University - UK), Sony Pellissery (India University- India), and Lina Martínez (Universidad Icesi - Colombia) and were were selected among the ten winning teams.. The group pitched for the rapid reappraisal of financial inclusion policies with following objectives

1] Produce a policy brief based on the respective research findings

2] Hold a high-level rapid reappraisal meeting for relevant stakeholders, where the briefing paper is launched, current approaches are reappraised and mechanisms to bring the discussion with local governments are discussed.

3] Produce an accompanying media briefing by each country/project participating in this initiative to get the issue on the public radar.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presenation at Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Keynote talk: Lack of income is not enough: Reflections on the true meaning of poverty, Poverty, Inequality and Social Policy Conference, School of Government and the Center for Chinese Public Administration Research (CCPAR), Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China. 24th November.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation at Conference in Kyoto 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Sony Pellissery presentation on "Shame ad political emotion" at the annual conference of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-economics held in Kyoto, Japan during 25-28 June 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation t at Jindal Global University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Professor Sony Pellissery presented to public policy students at Jindal Global University on the role of political emotions in the policy decisions on 25 September 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Public policy meeting in Hoima Uganda 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a by-invitation public meeting of anti-poverty activists and policy makers from the Hoima district of Uganda, the site of a policy intervention implemented and evaluated as part of the ESRC/DFID project. Research progress both locally and internationally was reported with extensive and very active participated from a very interested audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Shame-proofing' anti-poverty interventions - lessons from Uganda 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was an invited paper a the International Conference 'Putting Children First: Identifying Solutions and Taking Action to Tackle Child Poverty and Inequality in Africa'
23 - 25 October 2017, UNCC, Addis Ababa . The paper was jointly presented by Grace Bantebya and Florence Muhanguzi, Makerere University and Elaine Chase, UCL and entitled 'Shame-proofing' anti-poverty interventions - lessons from Uganda. The presentation attracted much discussion and a request made for publication
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.crop.org/Workshops-amp-Events/CROP-Events-2017/Putting-Children-First.aspx
 
Description Talk at ILO/UNICEF Geneva 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited Paper: Promoting dignity through Universal Child Grants, International Conference on Universal Child Grants, UNICEF, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). Geneva 6th February
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description United Nations 2018 High Level Political Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on the dimensions of poverty developed with people living in poverty, practitioners and academics, heavily influenced by the research on shame, presented at a side-event at the United Nations 2018 High Level Political Forum, New York, 9th July .
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018