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://​​docs.google.com/​​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?