MattSharp

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We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective

"Please stop cheery picking one or two points which are tangential to the actual argument"

Your argument is only based on anecdotal evidence. I'm happy to address many of your points, but if you're not actually willing to accept a significant amount of evidence as to the health benefits, I don't see why you expect us to accept your anecdotal evidence concerning jobs.

I'm happy to discuss the question of choice, though you seem to also oppose Give Directly, which precisely provides people with more choice.

I expect you to write an unnecessarily long response to this.

We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective

"But we don't have good evidence that bednets are in fact being used in these communities and are actually actively reducing malaria rates"

Yes we do. For example, this systematic review considers 22 randomised controlled trials which look at morbidity and mortality from malaria: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15106149

Note the difference in outcomes between insecticide-treated nets and untreated nets. Locally-produced nets are likely to be untreated, which aren't very effective.

This study finds that the impact of scaling-up supply of bednets across several countries is consistent with the findings of previous trials: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21909249

Are you happy to accept this evidence?

"Are some families using them, possibly. Is it significantly fewer than what AMF claims, I would argue yes."

What claims do AMF make about use?

We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective

"It is a good question, why, if the data is flawed or dubious, should you believe that there is economic harm taking place? I would return to the point of choice. If foreigners do not have sufficient data to determine that a particular intervention would do more good than harm, I see no reason that they should have the right to override the will of the community."

We have good evidence and reason to believe that bednets reduce the incidence and burden of malaria. The big question is over the economic impact, not so much the health impact.

So it seems we can be confident we're improving health, but less confident of the impact on jobs. We have two scenarios:

(a)Without bednets/AMF: people will die and suffer from malaria and there is an uncertain impact on jobs.

(b)With bednets/AMF: fewer people will die and suffer from malaria and there is an uncertain impact on jobs.

In fact, there is some evidence to suggest reducing malaria can boost economic growth and productivity: http://effective-altruism.com/ea/pd/longterms_effects_of_malaria_on_labour/

But ok: let's consider your anecdotal evidence. Based on this, how many jobs do you think have been displaced by the existence of AMF within a given country? How many people do you realistically think need to be employed to produce the bednets needed by a country? Do you have any figures, estimates, or even guesses for the number of people employed as bednet manufacturers in any country?

We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective

If there is an absence of accurate data, why should we believe that supporting AMF destroys more jobs than it creates?

It sounds like it is (anecdotally) easy to point to some people who have been hurt by distribution of free bed nets (local producers), but if there are economic benefits from reducing malaria, then any job gains will likely be spread amongst many sectors. You won't be able to identify such job gains through anecdotal evidence.

On a side-note, there is a blog post on the AMF website from 5 years ago discussing this issue of where they buy their nets. It would be interesting to hear if anything has changed since then.

https://www.againstmalaria.com/Newsitem.aspx?newsitem=Where-do-we-buy-our-nets-from

It's worth noting that AMF supplies long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets, which appear to be the most-effective type. If local producers are not producing this type, then the absence of AMF et al may lead to greater local jobs, but only in the production of bednets that aren't as good at reducing malaria.