Fight Poverty

$100 = 33 people with clean water for one year and 165 children dewormed

The Fight Poverty program focuses on finding the most cost effective ways to fight poverty. In our effort to do the most good possible, and encourage others to do the same, we often have to make the difficult decision to not promote causes that we really admire. Joining the fight against poverty was initially difficult because we acknowledge that $1 raised for poverty is $1 that could have been used to save someone's life. Making a conscious choice to spend money to increase the quality of a person's life is difficult to do when the alternative is saving a person's life. However, we have concluded that effectively fighting poverty could actually have a multiplier effect on saving a life.

If we save a person's life only to bring them into an environment of extreme poverty, then we have to discount the good we have done in saving the person's life. Using a measurement such as QALY, or quality-adjusted life-year, we can begin to approximate the appropriate discount of saving someone’s life into an environment of extreme poverty where they could potentially spend all or part of their life suffering.

While these calculations certainly vary depending upon the direct impact of poverty on an individuals life, we cannot ignore the fact that poverty results in a net-loss of quality-adjusted life years for potential lives saved. Fighting poverty helps us positively impact the lives of those living in extreme poverty, some of whose lives may have been saved by some of our other efforts. 

Is fighting poverty a worthy cause? We believe so. Considering that poverty is so widespread and that interventions to fight poverty can be executed for such a reasonable cost, even donors on a budget can impact the lives of hundreds of people in need.

Fight Poverty Campaign

Impact: By the Numbers

$100 = 33 people with clean water for one year and 165 children dewormed

$1.50 = One person with clean water for one year(14)

$0.30-$0.81 = One child dewormed for one year(5)

The range for the deworm program is a result of the various locations where this initiative takes place. In India, where the infrastructure is vast, the cost is on the lower end of $0.30. For places where the program is newer or distribution is not as readily available (Kenya) the cost can be closer to the $0.81 range.

100% of all donations raised through the PIF Foundation are directed into program restricted funds, 50% for each of the aforementioned initiatives.

The organization that we choose to support for our Fight Poverty program is Evidence Action. Evidence Action fights poverty through multiple initiatives, but what is more important to us is their approach which is best articulated by the organization itself:

Evidence Action scales proven development solutions to benefit millions of people around the world. We fill the gap between knowing “what works” and having impact at scale. 

We implement cost-effective interventions whose efficacy is backed by substantial rigorous evidence. We identify innovative, appropriate financing mechanisms and build best practice operational models. We voraciously self-evaluate, learn, and improve our models for scaling with a commitment to transparency on progress, impact, and value for money. (1)

Evidence action currently fights poverty primarily through two programs, both of which we support through our Fight Poverty program.

    Dispensers for Safe Water (2)



    • More than 780 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water.
    • More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Unsafe drinking water is also a leading cause of diarrheal disease with nearly two billion cases each year globally.
    • An estimated 760,000 children under the age of five die from diarrhea each year, making childhood diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation one of the leading causes of childhood mortality. (12) 

    Deworm the World Initiative (3)

    • Over 870 million preschool- and school-age children are at risk of parasitic worm infection. Over 600 million of these children remain untreated.
    • Worm infections interfere with nutrient uptake; can lead to anemia, malnourishment and impaired mental and physical development; and pose a serious threat to children’s health, education, and productivity. Infected children are often too sick or tired to concentrate at school, or to attend at all.
    • Worm infections are estimated to cause a loss of 200 to 524 million years of primary schooling. Parasitic worms exact a clear toll on human capital, hindering economic development in parts of the world that can least afford it. (13)

    Based on data presented below (How much does it cost to fight poverty?) we believe that this organization is arguably the most cost effective in the world when it comes to fighting poverty.

    Evidence Based Research

    In our search for the most cost effective way to fight poverty we have come across a myriad of projections, opinions, and calculations. Ultimately our final decision on which model to support was based on research from respected third party sources that have conducted in-depth evidence based studies. The organizations responsible for these reports have far greater scale and resources than our team. It is our belief that this information is the most accurate, thorough, and reliable information currently available to the public. Our decision to focus on third party information rather than conduct our own studies is rooted in the very spirit of our mission. It would be wasteful for an organization of our size to conduct our own studies when reliable information is readily available. Instead, we focus our resources on promoting effective altruism and encouraging donations to the world's most effective charities.

    Please see the references at the bottom of this page for a full list of the sources that we have relied on for our decision. 

    Criticisms of Water Quality Interventions

    For the sake of transparency we feel that is important to note that Water Quality Interventions, have had to deal with some skepticism around effectiveness. We have taking these points into consideration when deciding whether or not to include the Dispensers for Safe Water program in our Fight Poverty campaign. 

    A thorough critique of these programs can be seen here (6).

    The concerns highlighted in the critique are notable but our assessment is that Evidence Action addresses a large portion of these concerns by focusing specifically on the importance of adoption (11) of their programs from beneficiaries. Other studies (7, 8) and feedback from experts (9,10) provide us with sufficient enough evidence to support the Dispensers for Safe Water program from Evidence Action. We recognize that not all donors will agree with our assessment but we are confident money raised through this program will be money well spent. It is our belief that the benefits of this program far outweigh the risks. 

    Sustainability Efforts for the Dispensers for Safe Water Program

    In an attempt to ensure sustainability of the Dispensers for Safe Water program, Evidence Action takes advantage of Carbon Credits (11) that it receives as a result of their contribution to lowering greenhouse gas emissions by using chlorine dispensers to purify water instead of traditional boiling techniques. These credits are unique way to help finance the cost of their Dispensers for Safe Water program. While we do not recognize lower emissions a having a direct impact of fighting poverty in the near-term, we do believe this an added benefit worth noting. 
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    References:
    1. Evidence Action http://www.evidenceaction.org/#about  
    2. Dispensers for Safe Water http://www.evidenceaction.org/dispensersforsafewater
    3. Deworm the World Initiative http://www.evidenceaction.org/dewormtheworld
    4. Cost effectiveness of Dispensers for Safe Water http://www.evidenceaction.org/blog-full/post-pay-results-what-makes-evidence-actions-work-on-safe-water-so-different
    5. Givewell http://www.givewell.org/international/top-charities/deworm-world-initiative#dollar
    6. Critique for water quality interventions  http://www.givewell.org/international/technical/programs/water-quality#Questionsforwaterqualitycharities
    7. International Initiative for Impact Evaluation http://www.3ieimpact.org/media/filer_public/2012/05/07/17-2.pdf
    8. Treating water with chlorine at point-of-use to improve water quality and reduce child diarrhea in developing countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Benjamin Arnold and John Colford Jr. http://www.ajtmh.org/content/76/2/354.full
    9. Dr. Alix Zwane review and explanation of critique http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/Interventions/Water/Water%20Purification%20Assessment/alix-zwane-comments.pdf
    10. Dr. Thomas Clasen review and explanation of critique http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/Interventions/Water/Water%20Purification%20Assessment/thomas-clasen-comments.pdf
    11. Sustainable Financing http://www.evidenceaction.org/blog-full/carbon-credits-for-dispensers
    12. The Problem: Unsafe Drinking Water and Disease http://www.evidenceaction.org/#dispensers
    13. The Problem http://www.evidenceaction.org/#deworm-the-world
    14. Cost of Dispensers for Safe Water http://www.evidenceaction.org/blog-full/post-pay-results-what-makes-evidence-actions-work-on-safe-water-so-different

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