This study is devoted to assessing the efficiency of religious organizations relative to secular organizations in offering and encouraging take-up of health-enhancing technologies in developing countries. Roughly thirty-three percent of private volunteer organizations are religious, and over the past two decades, religious organizations have continued to grow (Barro and McCleery, 2007). In many cases, activities of religious organizations overlap considerably with secular counterparts and nowhere is the overlap greater than in the health care sector. Despite the fact that religious organizations play an extremely important role in public health interventions in developing countries, to our knowledge there is no scientific literature on the relative efficiency of religious versus secular organizations in offering public services. Understanding the relative strengths and weaknesses of religious organizations in offering public health interventions would help policy makers to better harness the resources offered by faith-based charities. This project uses a randomized controlled trial in 250 villages in rural Uganda with a local population of at least 75,000 to answer the question 'Can religious organizations offer interventions in developing countries more effectively than political organizations.' We consider three primary metrics of success: 1. overall take-up rates, 2. long-term sustainability of take-up, and 3. targeting of particularly needy communities. We expect this study to provide measures of effectiveness of religious organizations versus secular organizations so that policy makers understand along which margins religious organizations can be particularly effective, to instigate new research in religion and development, and to provide further insight into the social networks literature by identifying connections between religious networks and social capital.
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