By Kanika Bahl, Chief Executive Officer, Evidence Action
This blog was previously posted on the Evidence Action website
Evidence Action heartily congratulates Michael Kremer, Esther Duflo, and Abhijit Banerjee on their recently awarded Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Our organization is deeply indebted to them for their ground-breaking research and commitment to understanding, with scientific clarity, what does (and doesn’t) work to improve the lives of poor people around the world. Their recognition holds special significance for us as their work has a profound bearing on our own: Evidence Action was launched to scale up innovations backed by such rigorous evidence – ensuring that millions of people could benefit from proven solutions.
Kremer’s early research in Kenya into strategies for improving education outcomes yielded, among other findings, that administering free deworming medication to children at school could cost-effectively reduce school absenteeism by up to 25 percent. He and his colleagues later found that the benefits of deworming extended beyond improved health and education outcomes, to long-run economic outcomes as well – with dewormed children exhibiting higher earnings and earning potential than their untreated counterparts. In 2008, Kremer and Duflo partnered to co-found the NGO Deworm the World Initiative to translate the findings of this rigorous research into real-world impact. The Deworm the World Initiative later transitioned to Evidence Action, and we are proud to be stewards of the resultant impact. Today the initiative reaches over 280 million children annually, at an average cost of less than 50 cents per child, per treatment.
Notably, Kremer also pioneered the research trials that led to the establishment of our other flagship program – Dispensers for Safe Water. This research clearly demonstrated that providing chlorine for free at rural water sources is among the most cost-effective ways of providing access to safe water, reducing diarrhea and child deaths in rural, underserved communities. Today, Dispensers for Safe Water applies that research, providing reliable, free-to-use safe water access to approximately 4 million people in rural Sub-Saharan Africa. Numerous affiliates, including all three Laureates, of the MIT-based Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) founded by Duflo and Banerjee, conducted research that significantly influenced both programs’ design, finding that to reach those who need preventative health products most, user fees should be reduced or eliminated.
Around the world, hundreds of millions of people’s lives have been measurably improved thanks to the efforts of the three Nobel Laureates. As an organization inspired and influenced by their work, we are buoyed by this well-deserved recognition and excited to see it translate into a greater focus on evidence-based poverty alleviation and additional measurable impact for poor people around the world.