“When hungry man, may be better to give him fish than teaching him to fish”

The fight against poverty experiences a small revolution, embodied by the success of GiveDirectly, an American NGO created only eleven years ago. Its principle is simple: it identifies the poorest villages or homes and directly pays them money, often by a transfer to mobile. In the middle of COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of inhabitants of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were able to request financial assistance, by a simple sending of SMS and by answering seven questions. The selected beneficiaries received a monthly allowance of $ 25 (around 24 euros) for six months directly on the bank account associated with their telephone number.

In the past ten years, GiveDirectly has distributed more than $ 500 million, including in a rich country like the United States, and the number of beneficiaries increased from around 39,000 in 2019 to more than 486 000 in 2021. The humanitarian start-up uses algorithms and satellite images to detect, from the observation of building materials, for example, the poorest districts.

Gradually, development aid is also converted to the transfer of money. In mid-October, the American agency USAID and GiveDirectly announced that they would pay $ 4 million directly to Moroccan agricultural cooperatives. “The greatest increase in money transfers in history” took place during the COVVI-19 pandemic, notes Ugo Gentilini, economist at the World Bank. About 1.3 billion inhabitants on the planet benefited, even if on average this aid lasted only four and a half months. These transfers are now facilitated by technology, in particular mobile transfers, with the risk, however, that the poorest, the oldest or the most illiterate are excluded. Corruption

Distributions of coupons or money now represent a fifth of humanitarian aid. The global food program distributes for example $ 1.2 billion each year directly to the beneficiary’s bank account, which makes it possible to combat hunger while supporting the local economy. This mechanism also costs less than the delivery of aid in the form of goods. And, if the money is transferred directly to the beneficiary’s account, the risks of corruption or diversion decrease considerably.

Such a device, however so simple, has long aroused distrust because of the prejudice according to which the poor cannot spend what is given or that they would become lazy … Received ideas beaten in breach by many Studies ABDUL Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab ( j-pal ), hosted in the prestigious American University of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, Cambridge). “It is precisely because [the poor] have so little that we see them taking the time of reflection before deciding: they must be talented economists just to survive,” write the directors of J-Pal, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, in their work, useful economy for difficult times (threshold, 2020). In other words, when a man is hungry, may be better to give him fish than teach him to fish. With a full belly, he will choose the best perspective that presents himself to him, and which is not necessarily to fish. The two Nobel Economy prizes were the teachers of the founders of GiveDirectly. The NGO continues to carry out experiments, as in Kenya, where it calculated in a district that a donation of 1 dollar increased on average the wealth produced by 2.40 dollars.

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/Media reports cited above.