Review of Education Interventions and Charities in Sub-Saharan Africa

Two anonymous donors have approached Effective Altruism Québec for donation recommendations. The initial mandate given by the donors was to find one or more donation opportunities to reduce human misery as much as possible, with a focus on interventions that are potentially transformative and empower people to improve their lives durably. In line with what the donors are thinking, we are assuming this goal will involve aid to people living in extreme poverty in the developing world. The donors are particularly interested in helping people in Sub-Saharan Africa, so we are focusing on this region.

The intent is to donate 1 million Canadian dollars starting in 2021, probably donating 200k per year for five years. It’s possible that other such donations will follow afterward.

We tried clarifying with the donors exactly how to interpret the “transformative” criterion and what this translates to in terms of outcomes to maximize. This criterion remains fuzzy for the donors themselves, and indeed their preferences are not entirely fixed. However, the criterion is linked to empowerment and durable positive change, as opposed to short-term interventions which may have no durable impact.

The donors’ initial thought was to focus on education, so we have started our work by performing a review of this sector, including charity recommendations, which you can find here: https://​​​​document/​​d/​​1-JzmsKJFHPq3j1vAypy8yZM7NbGRco6e_S5con3TOTI/​​edit?usp=sharing

We would welcome any comments on this, either here or directly in the Google doc.

We would also welcome your feedback on the “transformative” /​ empowerment criterion: do you think this can be meaningfully defined, or not? If so, are there particular interventions to reduce extreme poverty that you think are most likely to satisfy this criterion? And finally, how do you think GiveWell top charities stack up against this criterion?