At One Acre Fund, we care deeply about measuring and understanding the impact of program participation on farmers' lives. We think of impact as our "North Star", and rigorous measurement is the only way to know if we are heading in the right direction.
One Acre Fund has historically focused measurement reporting on the dollar profit generated by our program. This remains our most meaningful outcome, grounded in an obligation to provide farmers a strong return on their financial investment in One Acre Fund. However, we have increasingly worked to understand our broader impacts—both for and beyond our farmers. The reports below represent what we have learned about the nature and depth of our impact. We hope to add to this list in the coming years, and, most of all, we hope that others working in a similar capacity with similar clients can benefit from our insights.
Holistic Impact / Understanding our Client
Holistic Impact Report. At One Acre Fund, we rigorously measure the outcome of our work in farmers’ lives by testing program impact on yields and profits each year. It is important to us that farmers get a return on their investment, both as a measure of our effectiveness and their success. Further, we seek to understand the broader impact of our work in farmers’ lives in such spheres as asset accumulation, nutrition, and soil health. Our Holistic Impact Report presents preliminary findings from such secondary impacts in all our countries of operation. While our current impact in these areas appears modest, we are continuously refining our programs, particularly in the focal areas of nutrition and soil health, as well as our measurement strategy, and hope to see even greater progress in the future.
Farmer Resilience. Building our clients’ resilience – their capacity to withstand shocks and stressors – is essential to ensuring the sustainability of One Acre Fund's program impact. In 2017, we conducted a cross country study to better understand One Acre Fund’s impact on farmer resilience. This report outlines the methodology used to measure the program’s impact on farmer resilience and also presents the results from the study conducted across six countries. We measure resilience capacity through five key pillars. These are: food access, assets owned, good agriculture practice and diversity, adaptive capacity and social networks. We find that the program contributed towards an increased resilience capacity for clients across all countries of operation. However, the pathways to increased resiliency and impact under each pillar differs by each country.
Quality of Life Study – Baseline. In 2015, we embarked on a longitudinal study looking at the impacts of program participation on a wide range of quality of life-related measures including health, nutrition, education and small business creation. For this study we are following both One Acre Fund farmers and farmers in an adjacent non-program area and tracking their outcomes. The study is being rolled out in both Kenya and Rwanda and we will be sharing results as they develop. The Kenya "baseline" report includes some preliminary impact assessment because we included about 300 "veteran farmers" in our program sample. Comparing these farmers to newly enrolled farmers allows us a preview of what program impact might look like in the coming years.
Quality of Life Study – Year 1 Report. This report summarizes the results from 2 years of data collection which examine the impact of One Acre Fund program participation on farmers' quality of life. We compare the changes in One Acre Fund farmers lives relative to a comparison group of non-participating farmers on a range of outcomes, including hunger, education, spending, health, nutrition, financial literacy and gender dynamics. The study covers roughly 5,000 farmers who live in both Rwanda and Kenya, our two largest programs of operation. We will be repeating data collection in 2017 to get an even deeper understanding of longer term changes.
Quality of Life Study – Year 2 Report. This report summarizes the results from three years of data collection, which examine the impact of One Acre Fund program participation on farmers' quality of life. We compare the changes in One Acre Fund farmers’ lives relative to a comparison group of non-participating farmers on a range of outcomes. The third year of data collection came on the heels of a drought year in Kenya, and some of the gains from the first program year were eroded. However, the impacts from the first year, like extra investment in livestock, likely helped One Acre Fund farmers endure a tough agricultural year. We are conducting a final year of data collection in 2018 to get an even deeper understanding of longer-term impacts.
Quality of Life Study - Year 3 Report. We present the results from the final round of data collection of this longitudinal study in Kenya. Here, we investigated program impact on a wide range of quality of life measures for farmers who participated in the One Acre Fund program and compared changes over time to a comparison group of non participating farmers. After establishing a strong increase in maize productivity and profit, we find that One Acre Fund farmers invested their programmatic gains in livestock and agroforestry assets, increased their expenditure on food, as well as augmented their expenditure on child education. One Acre Fund farmers also reported much higher happiness and less stress, attributed to the program.
Comprehensive Impact Report. This report represents 10 years of organizational learning about measurement and impact. We examine impact in terms of dollar profit, quality of life and environmental improvement and we look at how the impact extends beyond our client farmers. Throughout all areas, we focus deeply on not only improving rigour but in using data to improve our program.
Kenya Income and Expenditure Report. To better understand the economic profile of One Acre Fund farmers and their non-participating neighbors, we tracked 400 farmers for a full calendar year, exhaustively surveying them about their spending and income. This is our most in-depth look at the financial lives of the farmers we work with.
More Precise Financial Impact
Spillover Effect in Kenya. This memo outlines our efforts to understand and quantify the spillover of impact to non-participating farmers. We had heard for years that neighboring farmers were planting "the One Acre Fund" way, but we now have rigorous evidence showing program spillover accounts for an extra 90 kg of maize per acre for non-participating farmers.
Difference-in-Difference. In addition to the randomized control trial (RCT), One Acre Fund periodically uses the difference-in-difference statistical technique to verify our annual impact measurements. A difference-in-difference estimation is one of the more rigorous quasi-experimental approaches—it looks at the change in harvests over time for farmers who enter One Acre Fund, subtracting out the change in harvests over the same time period from farmers who remain out of the program. This memo covers our latest, and most comprehensive, difference-in-difference studies.