How virtual care could revolutionize Africa’s health care systems

By Franciscah Nzanga (1), Tabitha Mberi (1), Stephen Odindo (1), Isaac Mwangi (1), Beatrice Wasunna (2) and Michael Onsando (3)

Illustration by Anthony Mogaka

In Joseph Heller’s military novel Catch-22, a pilot could never be deemed insane unless he requested an evaluation. If a pilot requested for an evaluation, then he would be deemed sane as the act of requesting evaluation would be one of a sane man. The pilots were trapped in a loop of rules — the catch. COVID-19 left us in a similar situation with healthcare infrastructure. On one hand, we were looking to avoid crowded areas while on the other…

Improving online engagement of COVID-19 self-assessments

By Franciscah Nzanga (1), Tabitha Mberi, Stephen Odindo (1), Isaac Mwangi (1), Beatrice Wasunna and Nengapate Kuria (2).

Illustration by Anthony Mogaka

Imagine for a moment, what life would have been like in the early 1400s if emoticons were available. Instead of having to write out a message to share that your prematurely born child was out of danger, all you had to do was draw confetti, baby and blue ribbon icons, attach it to the leg of a pigeon, wait a day or two, and the father knew he had a bouncing baby boy. Sounds ridiculous, nonetheless, it brings into startling contrast how…

9 things to consider before using IVR as a research tool

By Ruth Canagarajah, Samuel Oyegunle, Leonard Waweru and Elijah Baraza

Illustration by Micheal Bagorogoza

In 2016, INC ran an interview titled “This CEO runs a billion-dollar company with no offices or email.” The interview profiled Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic, which runs WordPress. WordPress operates over 35% of websites on the internet and has been run purely remotely since long before a global pandemic showed the rest of the world the possibilities created by remote work.

At Busara, the shift to remote work forced us to think critically about how we approach our operations — particularly research. We developed the Busara online toolkit…

Using IVR to measure accent bias

By Ruth Canagarajah, Samuel Oyegunle, Leonard Waweru and Elijah Baraza

Illustration by Micheal Bagorogoza

Following a battle with the Ephraimites, and in a bid to assert their dominance, the Gilleadites are said to have set up a blockade along river Jordan to capture fleeing Ephraimites trying to get back to their territory. The sentries asked each person who wanted to cross the river to say the word shibboleth. The Ephraimites, who had no sh sound in their language, pronounced the word with an s and were thereby unmasked as the enemy and slaughtered. The word shibboleth is now commonly used to refer to a…

Part 2: Context is king

By Ariana Keyman, Gideon Too, Ruth Canagarajah

Photo by David Pennington on Unsplash.

Our determination to set up behavioral labs in non-WEIRD countries was driven by the idea that changing the context would change the results. This idea, supported by our equally curious partners, has led us down several paths towards better understanding the behavioral patterns at play in non-WEIRD countries.

Having an idea is one thing — having the evidence to support it is an entirely different matter. It is the evidence we’re really interested in. In part 1 of this series, we shared reflections around the community meeting as an effective community engagement tool…

The community meeting and CSOs

Ariana Keyman, Gideon Too, Ruth Canagarajah

Photo by Dorin Vancea on Unsplash

It is said that many hands make work light, and there’s no work heavier than the work of serving the needs of a citizenry. In addition to serving the immediate needs of the people, most governments are dealing with a myriad of other complex, interrelated social, economic, environmental and political issues — many of which go back generations. In many ‘democratic’ nations, civil society organisations often act as crucial vehicles for deepening governance, accountability and inclusive development and, as such, are some of the hands that ease the burden of governmental work. …

Four major engagements models to think about before any project

By Salim Kombo and Ruth Canagarajah

Photo by on Sigmund on Unsplash

Milestones are a matter of perspective. For parents, five years is critical in the development of a child. It forms the foundation of your child’s learning, physical and emotional growth. Similarly, for new businesses, this milestone is key as statistics indicate that the first four to five years are ‘survival years’. For some animals, five years can be their entire lives.

Long or short, a lot can happen in five years. If one is paying attention, they can observe trends, monitor behavior, make decisions and, in our case, engage in over 500 strategy, research…

Using behavioral science to improve citizen feedback for better public service delivery.

By Nathalie E.J. Dijkman, James Kengah, Gideon Too

Photo by Jaime Spaniol on Unsplash

For the few people deep enough in the geekdom, GI Joe will forever be known for breaking the boundary of “dolls for boys” by being the first ever action figure — and introducing the term ‘action figure’ to the market. The rest of us might not be too familiar with all this — or even care about dolls and action figures, but odds are we have come across the phrase ‘knowing is half the battle.’ It was brought about by a series of public services announcements done by the company in 1985

Understanding the future of work

By Busara’s Future of Work Group

Photo by Vadim Kaipov on Unsplash.

Maybe it’s some mass anchoring effect that has us tethered to the office as a key tenement of what it means to work. Or perhaps sunk cost fallacy has us so invested in the idea of an office that we can’t unthink it. Whatever it is, offices — and the typical working structures they represent — are a testament to how hard it is to change a pervasive culture. In some sense they are like the aeolipile — machines outside their time, one lost in the past and the other in the future. Written…

The tension between meeting basic needs and social distancing

By David Wünschel and Brian Baraza

By Frank Busch on Unsplash


For wealthy people from wealthy countries, it may not always be easy, though usually quite feasible to be socially distant: Just stay home as much as possible, maybe read more books or watch a little more Netflix, and keep a distance from others when leaving the house.

Things are not that simple for the more than 800 million people living in informal settlements in the Global South. Many of them rely on daily wages, meaning that any day they don’t leave the house is one they will not find food. …

Busara Center

Busara is a research and advisory firm dedicated to advancing Behavioral Science in the Global South

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