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Evidence Action Newsletter February 2021

A Note from Our CEO, Kanika Bahl

Here at Evidence Action, we’ve entered 2021 with hope for the year ahead, and an ambitious agenda to achieve. We are working hard to minimize the effect of COVID-19 on our programs, and iterating on strategies that can reinforce and sustain our impact. 

This year we are excited to commence work on maternal syphilis, which is a deeply neglected global issue that results in over 200,000 stillbirths and neonatal deaths and 109,000 debilitating disabilities in children each year. This is despite the fact that a highly effective, $1 penicillin shot prevents many of these outcomes. Liberia suffers from a particularly high burden, and we recently launched a 5 year program with their Ministry of Health to scale up syphilis testing and treatment for pregnant women nationwide. We aim to help the Liberian government screen 800,000 women and treat 16,000 of them over the next 5 years. Our Accelerator selected this intervention due to the potential for rapid, cost-effective impact. 

While schools have reopened in many countries around the world, others remain shut due to COVID. Our Deworm the World Initiative continues to help governments adapt their programs accordingly – in India we’re supporting continued door-to-door deworming between now and April, while in Kenya, Pakistan, and Nigeria, our teams are preparing for school-based deworming rounds – restarting programs paused due to the pandemic. 

Our Dispensers for Safe Water program, after pivoting to deliver COVID prevention measures alongside safe water in mid-2020, has largely resumed high quality service delivery. This includes in-person surveying of adoption (measuring whether chlorine is detected in household water samples), a key component of our monitoring strategy and real-time iteration for program improvement. This work helps ensure 4 million people have consistent safe water access, even amidst a pandemic.  
We look forward to reporting on our progress – and explaining the challenges we encounter – throughout this year. Keep safe and well. 

Chrispin Owaga, senior manager of our Deworm the World Initiative in Kenya

Chrispin Owaga, senior manager of our Deworm the World Initiative in Kenya

From Our Blog

A Journey of Impact: Chrispin Owaga’s Inspiring Path to Evidence Action
Chrispin Owaga spent nearly half of his childhood in Nyalenda, one of the biggest slums of Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya. As our senior manager of our Deworm the World Initiative in Kenya, he’s now fulfilling his lifelong aspiration to address the challenges he faced as a child.

[UPDATED] When Deworming Comes Knocking: Door-to-Door Drug Administration in India
With schools remaining closed across much of India due to COVID-19, the Government of India decided that the first 2021 round of National Deworming Day should proceed through door-to-door, community-based treatment. We helped the government design and implement this model for the prior round in late 2020, as explained in this blog, originally published in September 2020. Our team continues to work closely with the national and some state governments to support the current treatment round, taking place between February through April 2021.


The Wall Street Journal explores the work of Innovations for Poverty Action’s (IPA) executive director Annie Duflo, and how research interventions can lead to programs that successfully combat global poverty. Our Dispensers for Safe Water program is used as an example of IPA’s research in action, where the program was incubated prior to Evidence Action’s founding  with the mission to further scale this and other evidence-based, cost-effective interventions.

Making Sense Podcast discusses effective altruism with William MacAskill, an Associate Professor in Philosophy, founder of Giving What We Can, and Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Our Dispensers for Safe Water is mentioned as a highly effective charity. 

Business Insider reports on ways to give effectively, highlighting GiveWell’s recommended charities and deworming interventions as especially impactful examples.

Forbes interviewed Dr. Mwele Malecela, director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) of the World Health Organization (WHO), regarding the launch of the WHO’s new roadmap for NTDs, which aims to reduce by 90% the number of people who require interventions for NTDs by 2030. This roadmap closely mirrors Deworm the World Initiative’s goal for intestinal worms, as we seek to enable governments to control the public health threat of worms in children through increasing treatment coverage and ensuring treatment is regularly and consistently delivered.

IMG 0373
Promoters in Kenya receive training on COVID-19 symptoms and prevention strategies, as part of our COVID-19 Prevention Hygeine Project


One way in which you can help us increase our impact is by spreading the word about our work with your friends and family. A good place to start is by sharing what highly regarded charity evaluators have to say about us. At the end of last year, Evidence Action received a perfect Encompass Rating in all measured categories by Charity Navigator, the largest charity evaluator in the world. We were also featured as a “super-effecitive charity” by Giving Multiplier, a fund matching program created by Harvard researchers; as a recommended charity by High Impact Athletes, which helps world-class athletes donate a portion of their income; and recommended by Moonshot Mission, a new effective altruism initiative based in Germany. 

Work for Impact

Intern, Accelerator – Washington, DC
Deputy Director, Programs, Africa Region – Nairobi, Kenya
Junior System Administrator, Information Technology – Washington, DC
Associate, Data Management – Kisumu, Kenya

Staff Spotlight

Emilie Efronson, Country Manager for Liberia

Emilie photo

Emilie Efronson, an experienced public health practitioner, recently joined Evidence Action to manage our new maternal syphilis program in Liberia, which aims to prevent thousands of needless deaths and disabilities in newborn children by detecting and treating syphilis among pregnant women. 

Based in Monrovia, Emilie and her soon-to-be hired team will work with the government to nationally scale up dual HIV/syphilis rapid testing —leveraging the country’s existing HIV infrastructure—to detect and treat the disease before it causes complications to the child. Today’s testing rate for maternal syphilis in Liberia stands at 6%; we aim to help increase it to 80% within five years.

“[Maternal syphilis testing and treatment] is such an under-resourced area. I think what’s extremely exciting is that we can leverage the funding and momentum around HIV to tackle this very serious issue of screening for and treating syphilis. So I think there is a lot of uniqueness in this program, and due to the nature of how easy treatment is for syphilis, it creates a great opportunity to actually make a significant impact.“

Learn more about Emilie and her new role here.