Visiting GiveDirectly’s Recipients (East Africa Day 12: 2022-04-25)

Tonight we fly home, Kigali->Entebbe->Amsterdam->Seattle->Spokane. A total of around 30 hours. Before that, however, we get to go meet with some of the specific households that IntelliTect supported with their donations to GiveDirectly(GD) in 2021. It’s about a 4-hour drive to the village of Gitwa, and we will only be able to stay about an hour before heading back, but none the less, it provides an opportunity to hear first hand about the impact.

Upon arriving in Gitwa, we first went to the government village officers where we met with the section head. He had one of his staff present the impact on the community, using PowerPoint and a projector, comparing before and afterwards.

The impact included:

  • 100 percent of the households had purchased government health insurance (no doubt a government encouraged purchase)
  • 100 percent of the households had electricity – supporting a minimum power equivalent to three lightbulbs
  • The vast majority owned a cow (another strongly government encouraged purchase)
  • <more data to come>

After the presentation we got to wonder around the community and I was asked to select any household I would like to visit. Note, as your read these description, they are each anecdotes. They can’t be used to measure overall success of the GD program. None the less, I was encouraged, blessed even, by the interactions.

The Miller – Mugabe Moise

The first building we came to was a flour mill and the owner, Mugabe Moise, was outside. Prior to GD he was renting flour mill equipment and leveraging some training he had attended. Using the cash transfer, he purchase the flour mill equipment, and a second one, outright. He was paying ~5 USD/day for the electricity to run the mill and about 15 USD/month for maintenance. In addition, he seemingly employed one person to run the mills. As a result, he calculated his net profit at the equivalent of 5 USD/day, significantly higher than the 1.90 USD/day ppp value set as the extreme poverty delineator. (Although, I confess I didn’t find how many, if any others, in his household he was supporting.) This was clearly a success story. I suspect he was very likely already above or trending above the poverty line even before the GD money, but regardless, it was a huge success and I’m excited about what the future holds for this gentleman.

The Excited Widow – Musabyimana

This woman, Musabyimana, was so excited she invited us into her home. In the corner was a small wooden bench standing on it side. She explained that before receiving the money, that was the only furniture she had. Now, she had this wonderful set, and the bicycle. She also had a cow and an additional room she had added on for where to put her next cow.

The Farmers – Everist Niyonzima, his wife Uwanyirigira Anne Marie, and their grandchild

This family, Everist Niyonzima, his wife Uwanyirigira Anne Marie, and their grand daughter had peas that were drying on a cloth outside. They said they were for themselves but if they every had excess produce, they would sell it. It didn’t seem like they had any steady source of income and they were seemingly living off of subsistence farming. Their grand daughter lived with them as she was a surprise and so this couple was helping out their daughter.

One of the things they purchased with the cash transfer was a new corrugated iron roof. While they were incredibly grateful for the money, it was hard to gather what they had spent it on and the impact it had made.

(When we asked to take a picture the Everist asked if he could please go get changed first as he wasn’t expecting visitors.)

We met a few more folks during our hour long walk. Some of them invited us into their home. All of them were extremely grateful. None of the remaining ones provided a clear indication that they had used the money to establish a stable income. All of them expressed joy at their improved quality of life due to the various spending that included:

  • Furniture
  • TV and speaker
  • Land for their children
  • Improved stucco walls
  • Painted their houses
  • A cow
  • Additional rooms

On the way back to the car, however, we met two folks that were working to establish a business:

  • Leveraged the cash for establishing a mobile banking stall within the community
  • Bought a cow and sold it at double in the town (15-30 minutes from the village), with the intent to purchase more cows from the community that he could sell

Following my visit, I took some time to write up my impressions and questions regarding GiveDirectly. In summary, I can say with confidence that it was a blessing to be able to see their gratitude, excitement, and accept their thank-yous.

One Response to Visiting GiveDirectly’s Recipients (East Africa Day 12: 2022-04-25)

  1. […] transfers and that they were not making unhealthy choices about how to spend the funds. In fact, in the Miller, their choice was especially strategic (at least in terms of income […]

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