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Will they sit on their couches comfortably? – Cash in the News

In an op-ed in The New Times Rwanda, Gitura Mwaura argues emphatically for African countries to start conducting their own Universal Basic Income experiments. He makes the case that research can help answer questions like, “Will the money encourage them to find a job or will they sit in their couches comfortably?” Meanwhile, other institutions were talking about cash and evidence this week. The IRC blogged about its cash programming metrics, and Finland took steps towards planning a basic income project over the next few years.


1. Satellite Images Can Pinpoint Poverty Where Surveys Can’t
The New York Times, Sendhil Mullainathan, April 1, 2016
We are beginning to see tangible benefits. For example, GiveDirectly, a nonprofit group that gives cash to the poor, now uses satellite imagery to identify villages where thatched roofs signal that they may need help. “Remote sensing data can be powerful, especially when combined with cheap classification tools like crowdsourcing or machine learning,” says Paul Niehaus, co-founder of the organization. “They’ve let us strip cost and time out of the process.”

2. Changing our approach towards charity
Impakter, Maha Kabir, March 31, 2016
A charity called GiveWell has deemed four charities as conducive to effective giving, in terms of most impact per donation. These are the Against Malaria Foundation, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (treatment for parasitic intestinal worms), De-worm the World and GiveDirectly (directly transferring money to poor individuals, allowing them to purchase that which they believe will help them most). These charities are doing some great work – for example a child can be de-wormed for only 53 cents, and a bed net to protect against malaria-carrying mosquitoes can be bought for around $5. Donations are going directly to these tangible solutions that are making a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of those in need.

3. Effective Altruism Global X Boston 2016
Eventbrite, March 2016
Effective Altruism Global X Boston is a half-day conference featuring talks, panels, and networking opportunities for anyone interested in doing the most good possible with limited resources. The program will address the major effective altruist cause areas of global poverty and development, animal agriculture, and global catastrophic risk, as well as movement concerns like conducting research, building community, and choosing a career direction. Speakers and panelists include:… Piali Mukhopadhyay (GiveDirectly).


4. Cash programming metrics — are we talking about the same thing
IRC Blog, Sana Khan, March 31, 2016
We blogged previously about our latest research efforts to make humanitarian cash transfer programs (CTPs) more efficient, timely, and sensitive to the costs borne by the programs’ clients. The subsequent planning and design phase of these efforts have since exposed a lack of industry-wide benchmarks and clear guidance on measurement for CTPs, and without them, organizations do not have defined standards to work from and toward. It makes sense to establish these benchmarks and definitions for common indicators and allow donors and clients to hold the industry accountable. Here, we use two metrics—time to delivery and cost efficiency—to highlight the everyday measurement challenges faced by CTPs.

5. Protecting the Most Vulnerable under IMF-supported Programs
IMF Factsheet, March 30, 2016
Jordan: Cash transfers were introduced in November 2012 to mitigate the social impact of the removal of general fuel subsidies. These transfers, which are paid when the oil prices exceed $100 per barrel, amount to about US$100 per person per year; they are capped at a maximum of six family members. Initially, all families with an annual income below JD 10,000 (US$14,700) (70 percent of the population) were eligible for the transfers, but eligibility criteria were extended to include assets (land, car and real estate ownership), so as to better target the poor segments of the population.

6. Saving Children’s Lives – One Cash Transfer at a Time
Media Voices for Children, Len Morris, March 28, 2016
We had come to film a cash transfer program, the Bolsa Escola, that allowed these mothers to bring their children to school, by providing a monthly stipend, about $11 per child, for each month of perfect school attendance. Created in 1995 by Cristovam Buarque, then governor of the province, who explained it this way, “We pay professors to go to school and learn, why shouldn’t we pay poor children?”


7. Mobile Phones Promise to Bring Banking to the World’s Poorest
Harvard Business Review, Rodger Voorhies, April 4, 2016
The rapid proliferation of mobile platforms and the digital services that move across them are transforming the world in countless ways. Overnight, these technologies create billionaires and business models so beautifully unique and freakishly inspired that we call them “unicorns.” But perhaps no segment of the world’s population stands to benefit more from this amazing era than the roughly 2.5 billion people around the globe subsisting on less than $2 per day.


8. Africa should consider basic income social experiments
The New Times Rwanda, Gitura Mwaura, April 2, 2016
An interesting social experiment in poverty eradication has been underway in some countries across the world – from the Netherlands to India and Namibia – giving universal basic income (UBI) to a section of their populations. The basic income is a regular and unconditional stipend to cover living costs, whether you are a billionaire or a pauper on the street. The unemployed won’t lose the UBI upon finding work. And the social experiment is simple: It aims “to test how citizens react without that sword of Damocles over their heads. Will the money encourage them to find a job or will they sit in their couches comfortably?”

9. Finland to consider introducing universal basic income in 2017
The Independent, Serina Sandhu, April 1, 2016
Around 10,000 people in Finland could soon be receiving €550 each month if the government decides to implement a universal basic income pilot project. A working group has advised the government to launch the tax-free wage, equivalent to unemployment and welfare benefits that cover food, personal hygiene and clothing, in 2017 for two years.

10. Approval For Basic Income Jumps In Ontario
Huffington Post Canada, Daniel Tencer, March 30, 2016
As Ontario’s government prepares to launch an experiment on the basic income, a new poll shows voters are increasingly turning on to the idea. Four in 10 respondents in a new Forum Research poll said they approve of a guaranteed minimum income, with 33 per cent opposed. In a Forum poll in 2012, only one-quarter approved, according to Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff.