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Our knowledge on what works in preventing the natural resource curse in democracies is limited. There is no causal evidence about the effects of the provision of information in these contexts.
Mozambique discovered substantial natural resources in recent years. Known gas reserves in the Rovuma basin have the potential to transform Mozambique into a global player in Liquefied Natural Gas exports. Being a recent democracy, and with relatively weak institutions, Mozambique also faces considerable risks of resource and revenue mismanagement in the future, particularly since media independence and penetration are low and the level of political accountability is not improving. The Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) rates Mozambique with a failing score of 37/100 (46th out of 58 countries), which draws particular attention to poor reporting practices (51st in 58 countries).
In this context, it is crucial to understand the role of information on elite and citizens behaviour in response to a large increase in income from natural resources. This is important not only for Mozambique, but for similar countries facing large resources discovery under weak institutions.
The main evaluation questions are:
- 'What is the effect of information about natural resources on the political elite's behaviour, when local elites are the only ones being informed, when everyone is informed, and when citizens deliberate on ways to spend resource revenues?
- 'What is the effect of information about natural resources on citizens' behaviour, when everyone is informed and when citizens deliberate on ways to spend resource revenues?
- 'What is the impact of different types of information channeled to citizens, namely on aspirations and other citizen outcomes?
- 'What is the impact of different types of deliberation, i.e., default, majority elections (secret), and open deliberation, on elite behaviour/deliberation outcomes
- 'How are the above-referred impacts different for subjects living closer to the center of action for the natural gas boom?
This study will use a set of structured community activities (SCAs) and a two-layer randomised evaluation with three treatments arms. The first treatment arm will be the local elite who will receive information about natural resources and its management; the second arm will be the general public who will receive information along with the local elite; and the third arm will be a small group of citizens who will receive information and deliberate on spending the revenues from natural resources.
The study will also evaluate different types of information to citizens at the level of the individual (aspirations module) and different methods of deliberation at the level of the citizen group (deliberation module).
The key outcomes of interest will be the behaviour of the elite and of citizens in the presence of various types of and channels of information.