November 8th, 2019
This week, we take a look at all things nutrition in our 'Off the Record' study and are excited to announce our partnership with the Centre for Social Behaviour Change (CSBC)

01 - Num6ers

Interesting stats or figures from the past week to put global issues in perspective

252, 000

The estimated number of people to have taken part in the Standard Chartered ‘Seeing is Believing’ Marathon since its inception 17 years ago. The Nairobi run marathon is a global initiative by the bank to raise funds in support of the eradication of avoidable blindness among children under the age of nine years. This year's title went to Brimin Kipkorir and Purity Changwony in the men's and women's marathon respectively.

The cost of space technology that will help about a million fishermen, who risk their lives fishing around the Indian peninsula, to navigate cyclones. The system, used at Indian airports and designed to guide aircraft landing and take off, will provide storm and disaster warnings, transmit locations of fish shoals and help enhance the livelihood of fishermen.


The largest African mobile operator by subscribers - MTN - cancels a deal to sell its stake in Mascom Botswana and net the nine figure sum if it divested part of its shareholding. This is part of the plan to create a leaner structure that allows the telco to focus on growth opportunities in different markets.


The air quality index (AQI) in parts of Northern India on Sunday, 3rd November 2019 with cities in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh recording record AQI highs. AQI tells you how clean or polluted the air is and is considered good when the number is below 50 and moderate when below 100. AQI levels between 301 and 500 are considered hazardous for all population groups.

02 - Fresh from the Lab

New insights, trends, and findings for behavioral science in the Global South

We’re excited to have two announcements this week from our lab:

Centre for Social Behaviour Change (CSBC) - Busara Partnership

We have partnered with the Centre for Social Behaviour Change in India for the advancement of behavioral science in developing countries. The partnership will focus on two priority outcomes to translate this shared vision to reality:

  • Expand, strengthen and standardize research labs in the Global South 
  • Synthesize the knowledge of behavioral science in development to identify best practices for running behavioral science initiatives globally

As an initial act towards growing this space, Busara and CSBC will both be supporting the India BE Network’s one-day workshop on behavioral science. The event starts at 10am on Saturday 9th November, 2019 and will be held at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. We are proud to be part of the conversation that should be an exciting showcase of the growing behavioral science community in India!

Follow the livestream throughout the day here and participate from where you are.

Off the Record #10

Our tenth ‘Off the Record’ looks at nutrition from a behavioral science perspective. The context of food choice plays an important role in why 2  billion people lack vital micronutrients in their diets, and 1.4 billion people are overweight or obese, causing serious long-term negative health effects which affect productivity.  This study built on similar work conducted by the Better Buying Lab at the World Resources Institute looked at how framing of nutritious diets and bundling of healthy/unhealthy snacks might influence food choice among respondents in and around Nairobi.

More specifically, one question we asked was whether certain framing of healthy food might make more likely to choose that option for lunch.  Respondents were randomly assigned a standard menu, a taste focused menu (which highlighted the healthy options as more exotic and tasty), or a satisfaction focused menu (which highlighted the additional sense of fullness likely to be achieved by the healthy menu), and then monitored their selection.

Ultimately, we saw no discernible difference in food choice.  While this could be attributable to the sample size in this small pilot (n = 40), we also wonder whether preferences are less susceptible to simple language nudges than we had originally believed.  For instance, it is possible that the Kibera respondents see carb and meat-heavy foods as either the most economical and comfortable purchasing decision which requires different kinds of nudges aside from framing and mixed options.

Read the full 'Off the Record Post' here

03 - Links we liked

Recently published journals, papers, blog posts or just interesting snippets we enjoyed

Cookstoves, credit, and inattention to costs A new paper by Berkouwer and Dean conducted at Busara reveals that:
  • clean cookstoves are an efficient investment with returns of 300%+
  • credit access can increase WTP by almost 100% for those cookstoves
  • super interesting, the increase in WTP by credit seems to be driven in some part by a psychological shift in how payments are perceived, and when attention is refocused on the total absolute, that part of the gain in willingness to pay vanishes.
An excellent read for anyone interested in credit markets, energy access, or technology adoption.

Humanity's birthplace is Northern Botswana. New research claims to have traced the cradle of the 7.7 billion people on the planet to a prehistoric wetland in Southern Africa. Years of research and different theories have led to a number of contenders for the title of ‘birthplace of humanity’, with East Africa being a favourite.

A boost for food security. Kenyan food logistics startup Twiga Foods tackles waste and ineffective distribution in agribusiness and has now bagged funding of $23.7million led by a US investment bank. Twiga plans to use this injection of funds to scale up in Francophone West Africa as part of its general plan to reduce the average cost African families spend on food.

Have a lovely week-end!

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