Dispensers for Safe Water is a program run by Evidence Action that provides chlorine dispensers for decontamination of drinking water to reduce diarrhea and prevent associated deaths in young children.

Evaluation

A review by GiveWell found strong evidence for the effects of chlorination in reducing most diarrhea-causing microorganisms, but weaker evidence for a causal link between water chlorination programs and reductions in diarrhea and death among young children.[1]  GiveWell estimates that the Dispensers for Safe Water program is in the same cost-effectiveness range as unconditional cash transfer programs.[1] Dispensers for Safe Water was a GiveWell standout charity from 2017 to 2021, when that designation was discontinued.

In 2022, GiveWell made a major update in their assessment of water quality interventions. The update was prompted by preliminary results from a meta-analysis of mortality data from randomized controlled trials of water quality interventions conducted by Michael Kremer's team. Based on these results, GiveWell now estimates the mortality reduction in young children attributable to those interventions to be 14%, an increase of 11 percentage points from their previous estimate. In line with this update, GiveWell now considers Dispensers for Safe Water to be four to eight times as cost-effective as unconditional cash transfers. The re-evaluation also prompted GiveWell to recommend a grant of up to $64.7 million for the organization in January 2022. GiveWell also speculates that Dispensers for Safe Water or similar programs could use $350 million per year globally at equal cost-effectiveness.[2]

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