SMS for Better Service Provision in Uganda

Guy Grossman, University of Pennsylvania
Jonathan Rodden, Stanford University

Under what conditions does reducing information barriers improve bureaucratic accountability and service delivery? The goal of this randomized controlled trial is to determine the impact of an SMS (short message service) program in Uganda that allows citizens and local government officials to send and receive information about service delivery issues on the quality of social service facilities, focusing on government primary schools and health centers.

The SMS program, called U-Bridge, is funded by USAID/Uganda and implemented by RTI International and UNICEF. U-Bridge is part of a five-year USAID program, Governance, Accountability, Participation and Performance (GAPP), taking place in twenty-five districts across Uganda.

Embedded into the evaluation design is an innovative experiment designed to explore ways to increase political participation, measured as a individual’s decision to respond to a poll question via text-message.

The study takes place in Arua district, northern Uganda. We assess the extent to which the program affects service delivery outcomes, especially in education and health. Additionally, we conduct a social network mapping in a set of villages to examine the predictors of program uptake across villages and individuals.