This post comes from Piali Mukhopadhyay, our Chief Operating Officer. As of this spring, Piali and our field team in Kenya have overseen the transfer of over $1 million to more than 1,000 households in Western province. They have also laid the groundwork to transfer $675,000 to an additional 1,500 households over the coming months.
Last week Piali visited one village to meet with individuals who had recently received cash transfers from GiveDirectly. Here, in her own words, are some highlights from those interactions. In keeping with our commitment to communicate our impact through rigorous evidence, not anecdote, we have provided some midline data from a recently concluded independent evaluation to help put her experiences into context:
“One recipient told us that she immediately bought a cow with her funds because she wanted to make sure she didn’t spend the money irresponsibly. We asked her why she hadn’t put it in the bank, and she told us that if the money was in the bank, she could still spend it little by little until nothing was left, but she couldn’t go to the market and sell part of her cow.” [22% of increased investments in tangible assets are in livestock.]
“We heard rumors that one recipient left his house because he was afraid to meet us after ‘misspending’ his transfer. Lydia [a member of the Kenya field team] knew him and phoned him that evening. He explained that he had spent the money on a dowry for a second wife, because his first wife had died. He also said that he had not run away, would welcome us any time, and was proud that he was no longer in debt.” [The change in spending on dowries, weddings, and funerals is 1.5 cents per person per day and is statistically insignificant.]
“One man could not stop smiling when we went to his house — he said that the cash transfer had made him feel ‘like a human being’ after years of deprivation.” [99–100% of recipients surveyed report that the funds they received improved their lives.]
Maintaining personal contact with individual recipients is central to GiveDirectly’s model. We share Piali’s experience to convey the nature of the interaction between our staff and recipients, not to make claims about impact. The full results from the independent evaluation referenced here are currently being analyzed by the researchers. We look forward to sharing their conclusions with you here soon.