Key facts and resources


Many of us really care about effective giving, but find it difficult to talk about it with friends, family and acquaintances. A survey in early 2016 asked what resources Giving What We Can could develop to support these conversations. It found that almost 70% of respondents would find it helpful to have a summary of key facts.

Differences in costs between interventions

  • Blindness

  • Training required for the guide dog and its recipient: $50,000.
  • Surgeries to reverse the effects of cataracts in developing countries: around $1000 per patient.

The cost of averting deaths

  • NHS would consider it cost-effective to spend £20,000-£30,000 for a year of healthy life.
  • As of early 2017, the cost of averting the death of a child under five through a bed net distribution supported by AMF is estimated at about $7,500 by the charity evaluator GiveWell.

Malaria and AMF (Against Malaria Foundation)

Malaria - in 2015, 306 000 children under 5 died of malaria.

  • AMF - GiveWell estimates that:

  • the average cost to buy, distribute and monitor one net through an intervention supported by AMF is $4.85.
  • the cost of averting the death of a child under five through an AMF-funded bed net distribution at about $7,500.

Schistosomiasis and SCI (Schistosomiasis Control Initiative)

  • Schistosomiasis affects almost 240 million people worldwide.
  • SCI - GiveWell estimates that that children are dewormed for a total of around $1.19 per child. SCI employs funds to deliver the drugs, organise and monitor the distributions. It does this at $0.49 per treatment.

Does aid work?

  • Some does, some does not.

A success story: smallpox

  • Total cost of eradication was about $400 million.
  • More than 100 million lives have been saved so far.

An unsuccessful story: PlayPump

  • The PlayPump was a modified merry-go-round that could pump clean water from deep underground. This seemed a promising invention, since water could be collected by playing children, and women would no longer have to walk miles to draw water using a handpump, or wait in line at a windmill-powered pump on a still day.
  • However, there was a fundamental design flaw: merry-go-rounds are fun because they spin freely once you’ve built up momentum, while the PlayPump needed constant force.
  • This led to children becoming exhausted quickly. Sometimes they’d fall off and break arms and legs, or be sick. So women of the village had to take over from the children, and ended up finding the pump worse than the previous options.

The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that between 2000 and 2014 the $73.6 billion spent on child health by donors (both private and public) averted the deaths of 14 million infants and children. This is in addition to the $133 billion spent on child health by low- and middle-income country governments, which is estimated to have averted the deaths of 20 million children.



Helpful posts, articles and webpages