Rory Stewart (former Secretary of State for International Development) and Alistair Campbell (formerly Tony Blair's Communications Director) have a podcast together on politics. Rory Stewart over the last two episodes has been discussing GiveDirectly.
16:20 - "Tribal politics, anonymous sources, and Malcolm Tucker"
RS: "What am I doing in Rwanda? I am in Rwanda because I am with a charity called GiveDirectly, and GiveDirectly is a really radical idea. They are essentially giving $1000 of cash to very, very poor families and trusting them to spend the money well. And as you can imagine - you tell people this and people's jaws drop - they're like, 'how do you know they're not going to spend the money on alcohol, how do you know they're not going to be cheated out of it' - but they are incredibly rigorous. They do these amazing tests where they will study very carefully the effect on a hundred villages and they will compare it to the impact of much better known charities who are going in doing training programs or doing health programs or education programs and the truth is, time and time again, and there have been 230 studies of this, giving people cash is probably the most effective single intervention that you can do for a very poor family, because the truth is in almost every case they know how to spend the money much better than a foreigner does and there's an element of dignity here".
AC: "Are you just going around giving people money then. Are you just going around Rwanda giving people money?"
RS: "That is exactly right, and then seeing what happened with the programs over the last two years. And it's incredible. People are, you suddenly see transformation in their children's health, stunting, nutrition, roofs going up on houses, people investing in goats and livestock, to create an income, it's really incredible. And it's such a reminder because of course you are talking about people here in Rwanda living on $1/day, so they are earning $300/year, so if you give a family like that $1000 that would be like giving someone in Britain something like 3x their annual income, but what is so striking because this is like discussions of social welfare in britain where people say if you give poor people money they're going to misuse it or they are going to spend it on drink or they are going to spend it on drugs, but in almost every case people are spending it responsibly and their lives are being transformed. And the best thing is all the money is going to them, it's not going to foreigners who are going around driving in fancy white landcruisers with their kids in fancy accommodation. It's hitting the ground, and it's about dignity and I've become really excited about it, and I've become an apostle for cash transfer."
22:55 - "Globalism, Scottish Nationalism, and Rory's new job"
"So as you know, I was in Rwanda and I went to see these programs giving cash to people and even though I sounded really positive when I spoke to you last time I hadn't really seen the programs and I can tell you it's unbelievable, I've never seen anything like it in 30 years working in international development, literally you see villages which a year ago were some of the poorest communities in the world and a year later they've gone from a quarter of people owning a cow to nearly 3 quarters of them. Everybody fixing their roofs, to everybody signing up to the government health insurance, to every single house having it's own lavatory which improves sanitation, to people buying bicycles, shops poping up, and how have they done it? complete transformation, they've done it just by giving $800 to each household."
"It's gone down, it was $1000 last week"
"Yeah, this is $800, unconditional, do whatever you like with it, and it was so interesting, because I went to see government ministers later and they were so against it, they kept saying this is crazy, you've got to make it conditional, these people will just waste the money on beer, you've got to buy a bicycle for them or whatever. It was extrodinary. Literally, you will, and they've done it across 850,000 people. If you were to go to an NGO and say can you transform the lives of 850k people in a year"
"Rory, where is the money coming from?"
"The money is mostly coming from philanthropists in the united states. so these are people who've been convinced of this very difficult thing which is hard to convince people of and I've been having difficulty even explaining to my friends and family. Come back and say I've found this miracle, everything we've been doing in international developement for the last 30years has been nonsense"
"Rory, don't say that because that will justify them saying that, even Rory Stewart recognises we should have got rid of DfID"
"We should have kept DfID, but we should have spent the money on cash transfers"