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Study Overview

Impact Evaluation of the Iraq Transport Corridors
Study is 3ie funded:
Study ID:
Initial Registration Date:
Last Update Date:
Study Status:
In Development

The objective of this Impact Evaluation is to inform future corridor investments in Iraq by generating rigorous evidence, through an impact evaluation of the rehabilitation of a 257km segment of Iraq’s Expressway 1 and the construction of a 23km segment along the North-South corridor. Specifically, this impact evaluation will examine whether transport investments increase economic activity in urban areas and lay-by areas near the road corridor. We will use the Geospatial Impact Evaluation (GIE) which is a rigorous evaluation method that merges multiple sources of spatial data with quasi-experimental methods to determine the impact.

Registration Citation:

Bougna, T., 2019. Impact Evaluation of the Iraq Transport Corridors. Registry for International Development for Impact Evaluations (RIDIE). Available at: 10.23846/ridie187

Urban Development
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Secondary ID Number(s):

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Theophile Bougna
The World Bank Group (DIME)
Name of Second PI:

Study Sponsor

The world Bank Group
Study Sponsor Location:
United States

Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
Type of Organization:
United States

Intervention Overview


The intervention includes the rehabilitation, maintenance and road safety improvement along a 257km segment of Expressway 1 (R7, 145km from Nasiria to Rumaila; R8A, 31km from Basra Junction to Basra, and R8B, 81km from Rumaila to Safwan), construction of service lay-bys along strategic points of the R6, R7 and R8 segments of expressway 1, and construction of a road between Girsheen and Suheila Intersection (23km) of the North-South transport corridor near Turkey and Syria. The project expects beneficiaries to include road users due to improved road quality and safety and reduced travel time. Businesses---especially the small businesses that have encroached on the right-of way---are expected to benefit through the establishment of service lay-bys which will help concentrate and stimulate business. In addition, improved road infrastructure should improve access to labor and markets for firms and allow households to access employment and economic opportunities. Consequently, the project should result in improved productivity and development in towns and villages along the corridor.

Theory of Change:

This Geospatial Impact Evaluation (GIE) examines the impact of road investments in Iraq on economic opportunity for areas surrounding the improved roads. The Iraq Transport Corridors Project focuses on three main components: 1. Road construction, maintenance and rehabilitation, which includes new construction of a road connecting Gursheen and Suheila in the north and improvements to 257km of Expressway 1 in the south, such as resurfacing and sealing cracks. 2. Design and enhancement of road safety features, which includes adding guard rails and fencing, acceleration and deceleration lanes, sidewalks, and lighting, improving bridges and over/under passes, and constructing new service lay-bys with basic services and opportunities for businesses which previously encroached on the right-of-way. 3. Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building, to enable the government to better manage road resources, monitor and enforce traffic regulations, and respond to emergencies. Activities include support for organizational structure and governance changes, ICT system development, and training for government ministry staff, state-owned construction companies, and local contractors. While travel time between cities along the improved roads should decrease due to improvements to the road itself and added safety features, we assume that individuals make decisions on road usage based on most efficient travel time, and thus usage will increase. Those living near the improved roads experience increased economic opportunity due to the increased traffic flow (in the case of those with businesses along the road) and increased mobility and connectivity (for those living near the road and using it to connect to other opportunities, e.g. taking agricultural goods to market or finding higher wage jobs). We assume that those living near the road are able to take advantage of economic opportunities that exist in other locations.

Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
Type of Organization:
Research Institution/University

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
The World Bank Group, through the ieConnect program
Type of Organization:
Foreign or Multilateral Aid Agency

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
Start Date:
End Date:
Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Difference in difference/fixed effects
Other (not Listed) Method:
Additional Evaluation Method (If Any):
Other (specify)
Other (not Listed) Method:
Panel framework with fixed effects

Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

Panel Model: Primary Treatment Measure We will use a panel framework with fixed effects to estimate the impact of upgrading Expressway 1 on nearby areas. We will estimate a regression model which relates improvements in travel times to economic activity as proxied by nighttime light intensity. Our model controls for fixed characteristics of the areas near the road and flexible time trends by including month and pixel-level fixed effects. Panel Model: Secondary Treatment Measure We will also adopt a second specification that utilizes an alternative binary treatment measure based on the timing of road improvements, rather than a continuous strength of treatment measure, in a panel framework. We will apply this treatment measure to both the improvements on sections R7 and R8 a/b of Expressway 1 and for new construction of the Gursheen-Suheila connector. A pixel is considered treated when all lanes in one direction of the nearest kilometer of the expressway have received improvements. A second treatment measure will turn on when all lanes in both direction of the nearest kilometer of the expressway have received improvements

Outcomes (Endpoints):

Nighttime Lights: Measure of brightness of nighttime lights activity from VIIRS sensor on NPP satellite 750 m x 750m pixel, measured monthly

Unit of Analysis:
750 m x 750m pixel (750m square pixels)

Road construction and improvements will, on average, result in a higher level of economic growth in surrounding areas. It is also likely that greater road transport connectivity contributes to macroeconomic improvements due to increased trade flows. However, we are not able to test that hypothesis with this evaluation design (due to constraints in available outcome data). We aim to use this evaluation to examine the microeconomic impact of the Transport Corridors Project on economic growth in areas surrounding the roads. It will be difficult to distinguish between the two mechanisms of growth listed above through this evaluation design, but we aim to use information on the timing and location of construction of service lay-bys to examine the two mechanisms as possible.

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
750 m x 750m pixel,
Number of Clusters in Sample:
15,000 pixels that fall within 10km of the two road segments
Number of Individuals in Sample:
all 750m square pixels that fall within 10km of the two road segments (around 15,000 pixels total)
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
all 750m square pixels that fall within 10km of the two road segments (around 15,000 pixels total)

Supplementary Files

Analysis Plan:
Other Documents:

Outcomes Data

The treatment, outcome, and covariate data already exist from three different sources: (i) documents produced by the country team (treatment data), (ii) publicly available remotely-sensed satellite data (outcome and covariate data), and/or (iii) geo-referenced household survey data (covariate and validation data). The evaluation team will collect, extract, and merge this data into a monthly panel dataset for 750m square pixels within 10km of the improved roads starting in April 2012 in order to
Data Already Collected?
Data Previously Used?
Data Access:
Not restricted - access with no requirements or minimal requirements (e.g. web registration)
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
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Treatment Assignment Data

Participation or Assignment Information:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Previously Used?
Data Access:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Approval Process:
Approval Status:

Data Analysis

Data Analysis Status:

Study Materials

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Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 3: Data for measuring impacts have been obtained/collected by the research team but analysis for this evaluation has not started

Completion Overview

Intervention Completion Date:
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Unit of Analysis:
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Preliminary Report:
Preliminary Report URL:
Summary of Findings:
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Data Availability

Data Availability (Primary Data):
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Other Materials

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Description of Changes:

Study Stopped