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Evidence Action Newsletter April 2018

A note from CEO

A Note from CEO, Kanika Bahl

As a new year encourages new beginnings, we at Evidence Action are excited to launch a quarterly newsletter for 2018. We are doing so to provide a regular window into the multitude of activities underway throughout the organization, and look forward to your feedback on this initiative. 

First, however, I first wanted to convey my gratitude for your support in 2017. With your engagement our year ended on a high note: we surpassed our donation goals! You can read about your impact in detail in our Stories section below. 

Evidence Action is now reaching 275 million people across ten countries, including providing both deworming treatments to children through engagement with national governments and clean, safe water across rural areas of Africa. Our Beta incubator is developing the next generation of Evidence Action programs, testing to scale highly cost-effective, evidence-based programs which have the potential to measurably improve the lives of millions. One of these, No Lean Season, received significant attention last year for its promising and highly cost-effective impacts on reducing the burden of seasonal poverty.

You can read more about our program and function highlights below, and watch our new video here. I also encourage you to take our survey as we seek to understand more about our supporters. From your support this past year, it is clear that together we make up a passionate, evidence-based community intent on improving the lives of millions in the most effective ways possible. I am excited by our opportunities for the year and humbled by the impact that we are achieving together in the world. 
Best wishes,

Evidence Action Banner Photo 2

Program and Incubator Updates

New to Evidence Action’s portfolio?

Read more about Deworm the World Initiative and Dispensers for Safe Water, our flagship programs, or our Beta incubator and its current testing portfolio of new interventions, including No Lean Season and Winning Start. You can read through our Annual Report for further information as well.

Evidence Action Beta

  • Beta incubates the next generation of evidence-based and cost-effective programs at scale, and this quarter the evaluation-at-scale of No Lean Season is coming to a close. Based on lessons from last year, the No Lean Season team has been redesigning the program for increased efficiency and impact. In 2017, No Lean Season issued $19 loans to over 40,000 agricultural laborers in Bangladesh to help them migrate and find temporary work during the lean season.
  • Recruitment for this year’s Winning Start cohort, another program that Beta is incubating in partnership with the Government of Kenya’s G-United youth service program, is underway with record numbers of applications (8,000 in just under one month!). We expect approximately 1,300 volunteers will deploy to over 600 schools in 20 counties across Kenya in May, reaching 32,500 struggling students with remedial support.
  • We are also in the planning stages of the first randomized controlled trial of Winning Start, which will contribute to the broader “teaching at the right level” evidence base.

Deworm the World Initiative

  • National Deworming Day in India was held on February 10 and targeted over 320 million children for treatment. We provided technical support to ten states, including Uttarakhand for the first time, as well as to the national Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • In Nigeria, we supported deworming in Oyo state for the first time, where over 2 million children were targeted for deworming in mid-February and bringing our technical assistance to a total of four states.
  • In Kenya, we continue to support the Government of Kenya’s National School-Based Deworming; the sixth round of deworming, targeting 3 million children, took place in February; a second wave targeting an additional 3 million children is set to take place in May.

Dispensers for Safe Water

  • Dispensers for Safe Water increased program-wide adoption to 53%, up from 49% in November/December 2017. Uganda’s adoption increased to 60%–its highest first quarter adoption rate since inception, significant as adoption tends to be lower at this time of year.
  • We are beginning promoter refresher trainings across the program, including retraining 20,000 promoters in Kenya alone by June. Promoters play a vital role in ensuring communities continue to adopt our dispensers, and trainings act as both a knowledge refresher and a motivator for promoters to fulfil their volunteer roles effectively.
  • In Uganda, we conducted 172 community re-education meetings in locations with high rates of vandalism or chlorine misuse; while such occurrences represent a very small percentage of our overall communities served (over 5,700 in Uganda), we have worked to quickly counter them in affected communities.
  • In Malawi, adoption rates continue to outperform expectations, hitting 78%; staff advocacy has resulted in local and international NGOs agreeing to promote dispenser usage and promptly alert the program of any dispenser functionality issues in communities where they have a presence.

Engagement Opportunities

As mentioned last quarter, we are building a network of partners and supporters who believe strongly in our ability to help reduce the burden of poverty. Please fill out our 2 minute survey to tell us more about how you learned about us and what aspects of our work you would like to know more about. Your responses will help us better engage with you as a supporter. Thank you!

We also have an upcoming opportunity to maximize your donations this year! Matching Month of May is on the horizon – this will be a donation matching opportunity to stretch your dollar and double your impact. Keep an eye out for further updates in late April.

Other ways to engage include:

  • Spread the word: follow us and share on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can find several template tweets on our Get Involved page if you need help getting started.
  • Fundraise! For birthdays, holidays, or just for impactful fun, create a fundraiser page to engage your friends, family, and coworkers in making their impact count.
  • Become a recurring donor:  Our online donation platform makes it easy to track your giving throughout the year. Sign up today!

In the Media

Our programs have received quite a lot of press in the last six months–check out these links:

⦁ The Economist recently featured No Lean Season’s efforts in Bangladesh. Take a look!

⦁ NPR told the story of 24-year-old Mariful Islam, who received a No Lean Season loan and left his village temporarily in search of work.

⦁ “Turning Evidence Into Action”: We spoke with Marc Gunther on what we do and how we do it.

⦁ India held its National Deworming Day on February 10th with media featuring Evidence Action as an technical support partner

⦁ The New York Times featured our Deworm the World Initiative as Nicholas Kristof’s favorite deworming charity

Looking Ahead

In the upcoming months, keep a lookout for the following new initiatives and impact:

⦁ Evidence Action Beta is exploring launching early-stage incubation of simple, home-based growth charts that help parents track their young children’s physical development and reduce stunting. 

⦁ The Deworm the World Initiative will support the Government of Kenya to target an additional 3 million children in Kenya in May – stories of impact and photos from the event will be available on our social media pages.

⦁ You will have the opportunity to stretch your dollar during our Matching Month of May! A generous supporter of Evidence Action has agreed to match your donations throughout May. Keep an eye out for further details on how to amplify your support for Evidence Action next month.

Stories of Impact: A Helping Hand

“During the lean season, we face hardship. Sometimes we can only afford to eat once a day, sometimes not even a full plate once.” – Meena

Click on the image above and watch Meena and others describe their experiences with seasonal poverty in Bangladesh through this interactive storytelling media, giving a look into the impact that our No Lean Season project has in overcoming barriers to temporary employment. 

This video project was made in partnership with Yale, using footage from interviews with recipients of No Lean Season’s conditional loan. These include the stories of Shree Nirmal Chandra Roy and Mohammad Nurunnabi, who through the loan were able to successfully work in Chittagong during the lean season, sending money back to their families to pay for food and necessities. The risks to internal migration are high for those in extreme poverty and the loan meant he did not have to make the decision to risk traveling; as Mohammad points out,  “I bought a ticket and came here with ease, sitting inside the bus.”

Once in Chittagong, he was able to find a network of others who had migrated as well, including the owner of his local food spot who came from Mohammad’s home region, creating a more supportive experience and increasing the likelihood of repeating the process the following year.

The efforts translate into direct health and nutrition impacts for the household members as well. “We will be able to eat twice instead of once a day. That is why he has migrated to Chittagong,” Meena says about her husband.

Stories of Impact: Community Effort

Over the past year, chlorine dispenser promoters in Malawi walked 30 km daily in order to collect chlorine supplies for their village, Khalola. Khalola’s Group Village Elder, Mr. George Kalulu, attended Evidence Action’s mobilization meeting to discuss the issue of long distance travel and how to best support the promoters.

Through this meeting, village elders were reminded of their important role in ensuring people under their leadership add chlorine to their drinking water to eliminate waterborne diseases. Returning home, Group Village Elder Kalulu met with those under his leadership to find ways to ensure that chlorine was consistently available in his village–a meeting which ended with community agreement to support promoters’ transport expenses incurred when collecting chlorine.

A committee was established to oversee this activity, collecting MWK 20 (~US$0.03) monthly from every household in the village to pay for hiring motorbikes to take promoters to and from the collection point, something which has uplifted the morale of promoters. Community members are now consistently using chlorinated water, hitting 78% this quarter, and according to the health surveillance assistant for the area, diarrhea cases among children have declined significantly.

Following this success, Group Village Elder Kalulu has hosted many village elders from near and far to learn about how they too can deal with similar challenges. When asked how he felt to be a model of success, the soft spoken village elder said with a sense of pride, “It is humbling to note that some people find it worthwhile to learn from my work of ensuring that people under my leadership are free from preventable diseases.”