Evidence Action: Deworm the World

Evidence Action

Deworm the World Initiative

Deworm the World, a programme of Evidence Action, collaborates with governments to run mass deworming programmes in schools located in at-risk communities.

What problem is Deworm the World working on?

Deworm the World is a programme of Evidence Action, whose mission is “to be a world leader in scaling evidence-based and cost-effective programs to reduce the burden of poverty.” According to Evidence Action, more than 913 million children are at risk for parasitic worm infections, primarily in poor communities with inadequate sanitation around the world. These infections interfere with children’s nutrient uptake, often leading to anaemia, malnourishment, and impaired mental and physical development. As a result, children who are infected are less likely to attend school.

What does Deworm the World do?

Regular treatment with a simple pill is a safe and effective solution to combat these infections. Deworm the World:

  • Works with governments in low-income countries to deliver free mass deworming programmes in schools located in areas where at least 20% of children are infected by worms.
  • Advocates for the implementation of mass deworming programmes by educating governments and assisting with program implementation.
  • Provides a variety of technical assistance to help governments launch deworming programmes, including help with planning, budgeting, obtaining and distributing medicine, training, and promoting community acceptance of deworming programmes.
  • Conducts independent programme monitoring and helps governments design and implement effective reporting and monitoring processes.

What information does Giving What We Can have about the cost-effectiveness of Deworm the World?1.

We previously included Deworm the World as one of our recommended charities because the impact-focused evaluator Founders Pledge recommended it after conducting an internal evaluation of it in 2023. We’ve since updated our recommendations to reflect only organisations recommended by evaluators we’ve looked into as part of our 2023 evaluator investigations; while we expect to soon look into Founders Pledge as part of this more in-depth evaluator research, we haven’t yet. As such, we don't currently include Deworm the World as one of our recommend programs Deworm the World but you can still donate to it via our donation platform.

In addition to the Founders Pledge recommendation, some other information relevant to Deworm the World’s cost-effectiveness is:

  • Evidence Action reports that Deworm the World has helped provide 1.8 billion treatments since 2014, at a cost of around $0.50 per child. In 2022 alone, it helped treat 252 million children in India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
  • Deworm the World was one of GiveWell’s top-rated giving opportunities from 2013 to 2022. GiveWell’s decision to no longer recommend it was not based on any shift in thinking about the programme, but rather a change in its top charity criteria. (See more about GiveWell’s decision.) GiveWell has continued to fund Deworm the World via its All Grants Fund.
  • Some research shows that deworming has positive effects on improved life outcomes like school attendance and income earnings. Evidence Action has also acknowledged and responded to some uncertainty surrounding the evidence for deworming programmes, and GiveWell has an in-depth report on the case for mass deworming which discusses areas of the evidence base it believes are strong and areas it believes are weak.
Please note that GWWC does not evaluate individual charities. Our recommendations are based on the research of third-party, impact-focused charity evaluators our research team has found to be particularly well-suited to help donors do the most good per dollar, according to their recent evaluator investigations. Our other supported programs are those that align with our charitable purpose — they are working on a high-impact problem and take a reasonably promising approach (based on publicly-available information).

At Giving What We Can, we focus on the effectiveness of an organisation's work -- what the organisation is actually doing and whether their programs are making a big difference. Some others in the charity recommendation space focus instead on the ratio of admin costs to program spending, part of what we’ve termed the “overhead myth.” See why overhead isn’t the full story and learn more about our approach to charity evaluation.