Measuring the Impact of Infrastructure Investments on Livelihoods using Atlas AI’s Proprietary Data

Emily Logan

Investments in infrastructure, particularly electricity, are increasing in emerging markets resulting in a growing need to measure the impact. While surveys are one way to measure the change in livelihoods from these investments, they’re expensive and can’t be performed retroactively. Using Atlas AI’s Asset Wealth Index, which estimates household asset wealth based on asset ownership and produced from a deep learning model that predicts survey based estimates from satellite imagery, we can retroactively measure asset wealth and perform impact assessments without the need for a survey. Combining asset wealth measurements with Atlas AI’s Human Settlement Layer we are able to identify the trend in asset wealth from 2012 - 2021 for every settlement across the globe. 

With these two data layers we measured the impact of livelihoods from electricity in the province of Nord-Kivu. The human settlement layer, attributed with yearly asset wealth values was used as the foundation for the analysis and each settlement was categorized as a treatment site, candidate site, or donor site. Treatment sites were identified based on the electric infrastructure network and were electrified in 2017. The remaining settlements in Nord-Kivu were candidate sites. From the candidate sites, we developed a systematic approach to identify those sites that were most similar to our treatment sites based on pretreatment asset wealth values, population and proximity to major roads. The settlements from the candidate pool that were most similar to our treatment sites based on those key attributes were then added to the donor pool. 

Candidate Pool (brown), Treatment Pool (green) and Donor Pool (blue) 

Using the treatment pool and donor pool, we then estimated the impact of electricity on livelihoods using a flexible version of the synthetic controls method. It’s well known that the impact from electricity on livelihoods is lagged, therefore it’s unlikely we would see an impact before 2020. The results confirm this and we start to see a change in livelihoods in our treatment group starting in 2020 and continuing through 2021. In the fifth year after the treatment pool was electrified (2021), the impact on livelihoods is estimated to be 0.117. 

Counterfactual vs. Observed Asset Wealth 

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