The GiveWell Blog

Our recent visit to Burkina Faso

GiveWell staff recently visited Burkina Faso to meet with staff of one of our top charities, Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) program, and observe its work. Through its SMC program, Malaria Consortium distributes preventative anti-malarial medication at a time of year when it is needed most.

As I write below, GiveWell donors have directed more than $37 million to Malaria Consortium over the last 18 months at our recommendation. We expect that this will provide preventative treatments to 4.8 million children and avert over 16,000 deaths. We’re so appreciative of the support of our community in enabling this tremendous impact.

We originally sent a version of the following message to supporters of Malaria Consortium’s SMC program in late August. We received positive feedback on this message and decided to share it more broadly on our blog. We plan to publish more information about the 2019 Burkina Faso site visit in the future.

Hello from Burkina Faso!

I’m here on a site visit of Malaria Consortium, one of our recommended charities, to see its malaria prevention program in action.

This visit helped me relate more deeply to the program by getting to know some of the people who run it and some of the people who benefit from it. I wanted to share my experience with you.

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Why we don’t use subnational malaria mortality estimates in our cost-effectiveness models

Summary

We recently completed a small project to determine whether using subnational baseline malaria mortality estimates would make a difference to our estimates of the cost-effectiveness of two of our top charities, the Against Malaria Foundation and Malaria Consortium. We ultimately decided not to include these adjustments because they added complexity to our models and would require frequent updating, while only making a small difference (a 3-4% improvement) to our bottom line.

Though this post is on a fairly narrow topic, we believe this example illustrates the principles we use to make decisions about what to include in our cost-effectiveness model.

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Revisiting the evidence on malaria eradication in the Americas

Summary

  • Two of GiveWell’s top charities fight malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • GiveWell’s valuations of these charities place some weight on research by Hoyt Bleakley on the impacts of malaria eradication efforts in the American South in the 1920s and in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico in the 1950s.
  • I reviewed the Bleakley study and mostly support its key findings: the campaigns to eradicate malaria from Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, and perhaps the American South as well, were followed by accelerated income gains for people whose childhood exposure to the disease was reduced. The timing of these events is compatible with the theory that rolling back malaria increased prosperity.

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Nothing But Nets

In 2014, we prioritized Nothing But Nets (http://nothingbutnets.net) as a potential GiveWell top charity because it funds insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria, one of our priority programs. In early 2014, we contacted Nothing But Nets to explain our process and to invite it to apply for a recommendation. Nothing But Nets provided brief responses to…

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Giving cash versus giving bednets

We recently published a new review of GiveDirectly, a “standout” charity that gives cash directly to poor people in Kenya. As we were going through the process of discussing and vetting the new review, I found myself wondering how I would defend my preference to donate to distribute insecticide-treated bednets (ITNs) against a serious advocate…

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Good news can create new challenges for donors

I was glad to read of a new $110 million initiative for insecticide-treated bednet distribution, which we find one of the better-established ways to spend money to improve lives. But what does this mean for you if you’ve been giving to a malaria charity? Do independent bednet distributions now run the risk of being redundant…

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