This column was first published on Devex on June 30, 2022.
The “effective altruism” movement believes that charitable giving should be optimized through rigorous vetting and hard data. This, the effective altruist attests, will ensure that every charitable dollar delivers a high impact.
But questions remain about what is being measured and over which time frame. Could the dominant use of simple short-term measures curtail investment in long-term sustainable solutions? To be sure, teaching a person to fish is more expensive, takes longer, and is tougher to measure than giving them a fish. But few would argue that giving away fish is the better option.
The pandemic has exacted an enormous toll over the last two-plus years, but economic policies in high-income countries have largely kept livelihoods intact. For those in low- and middle-income countries, however, COVID-19’s economic impact has compounded the human toll. An estimated 97 million more people fell into extreme poverty due to the pandemic.