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As we continue to grow, GiveWell seeks to maximize both the cost-effectiveness of the funding we direct and the likely room for more funding of the programs we support. We think we’ve identified a category of interventions that rates really well on both: water treatment, such as chlorination.
This is a major update for us. Before 2020, based on the available evidence, we didn’t believe that water quality interventions had a large enough effect on mortality to make them a competitive target for funding. We’ve since seen new evidence that has led us to significantly increase our estimate of the mortality reduction in young children that’s attributable to these interventions: a 14% reduction in mortality from any cause, up from around 3%.
Though we have remaining uncertainties about these numbers, we’ve substantially updated our view of the promisingness of water treatment. Where we previously found that Evidence Action’s Dispensers for Safe Water program was about as cost-effective as unconditional cash transfers, we now believe it’s about four to eight times as cost-effective, depending on the location. That was a primary factor in our decision to recommend a grant of up to $64.7 million to Dispensers for Safe Water in January 2022.
We’re sharing this news in brief form before we’ve published a grant page, because we’re excited about the potential of this grant and what it represents. It’s an area of work we haven’t supported to a significant degree in the past, but one that we now think could absorb hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for cost-effective programming.
Our goal with hosting quarterly open threads is to give blog readers an opportunity to publicly raise comments or questions about GiveWell or related topics (in the comments section below). As always, you’re also welcome to email us at email@example.com or to request a call with GiveWell staff if you have feedback or questions you’d prefer to discuss privately.
Intermittent preventive treatment in infants (IPTi) for malaria provides preventive antimalarial medicine to children under 12 months old. It is among the most promising programs we’ve identified in our active pipeline of new interventions. It’s also underutilized, and the population it targets is especially vulnerable to malaria. That implies potential to open up large amounts of room for more funding if IPTi begins to be used more widely—our crude estimate is between $50 million and $200 million globally once it’s scaled—which is something we’re increasingly thinking about as we aim to direct $1 billion in cost-effective funding by 2025. In September 2021, we recommended a small grant to Malaria Consortium and PATH to assess the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of implementing IPTi at national scale in two countries. We’re hopeful that this scoping exercise will answer some of our many open questions about IPTi, and that this intervention continues to look promising as we learn more.