Problem Solving Must Reads: Fix Poverty by Giving Cash to the Poor

Plus: The power of inexpensive solar lamps in India and a prodigious teen's game changing invention

Problem Solving Must Reads: Fix Poverty by Giving Cash to the Poor

Plus: The power of inexpensive solar lamps in India and a prodigious teen's game changing invention

Poverty is a frequent and pervasive problem across developing countries. The most common way that poverty addressed is for large donors and donor countries to give money to international non-governmental organizations. Those NGOs then manage the money, fundraise and implement programs through partner organizations in the developing countries. These poverty eradication programs mostly focus on delivering goods or services, building infrastructure, or providing training.

However, there is now a growing body of evidence that shows that unconditional cash transfers, where money is given directly to those in need with no strings attached, can make substantially more positive impact on the poor than the traditional NGO model. Organizations like Give Directly take money from donors and give it—you guessed it—directly to the poor. Give Directly first identifies extremely poor communities in the developing world. They use a range of factors like house size, assets, and vulnerable recipients status to determine the eligibility of a recipient. The recipient can then spend it on whatever they decide. For example, one rural Kenyan received almost $1,000 from Give Directly; she’s used the funds to complete her education, pay for food and buy a goat for her husband.

Dominant stereotypes hold that poor households will use such cash infusions for vices like drugs or alcohol. But studies have actually shown the opposite to be true: Cash transfer programs like the one adopted by Give Directly have had positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the recipients, and recipients have been able to turn their grants into increases in future income. Give Directly currently is attempting to expand its scope and is in the middle of organizing an ambitious 12 year experiment to test the impact of different models of basic income in Kenya.

Read the full story here (Via Business Insider Australia)

Here’s what else we are reading:

Solar lamps light low-income households in India

Photo: Upworthy

An estimated 1.2 billion people, 16 percent of the global, population do not have access to electricity. In some parts of India, Kerosene lamps are still used as a source of light. Not only are kerosene lamps expensive to use, they are hazardous and cause indoor pollution, which is one of the leading causes of death among women and young children in the region. An organization called Pollinate Energy now sells low cost solar lamps as a replacement for kerosene lamps. But instead of donating the lamps, Pollinate is committed to selling these lamps through a payment plan which is based on a family’s budget. Their thinking is that paying for the product gives families a sense of ownership and allows them to have a say in determining its utility. (via Upworthy)

Teen finds a way to lessen the impact of drought on food supply


Drought is a persistent problem across much of the world, and are devastating to food production. Because of climate change, drought is only going to get harsher and more frequent. To ensure some amount of agricultural production during drought conditions, farmers often employ a powder-like material called SAP or superabsorbent polymer. SAPs are planted alongside crops; they absorb large amounts of water when it does rain, and then serve as a reservoir for nearby crops. But SAP are made from harsh chemicals that can harm both people and the environment. Kiara Nirghin, a South African teenager, came up with an ingenious, affordable and environmentally friendly substitute for commercial SAPs, by combining ingredients like orange peels and avocado skins. Her eco-friendly solution won her the prestigious Google Science Fair. (via Upworthy)

Photo header via Business Insider Australia

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