Social protection programs and emergency aid are two of the most common–and most powerful–tools governments and NGOs have to protect vulnerable members of society. With tens of millions of additional people living in “extreme poverty” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasing socio-economic risks associated with climate change, the need to deliver aid equitably and efficiently has never been more pressing. But lack of reliable data and evidence to guide decision-making severely constrains the ability of policymakers to reach those with the greatest need.
On Thursday, November 4th, CEGA’s annual Evidence to Action (E2A) symposium explored difficult questions related to the targeting, design, and delivery of social safety nets and emergency aid, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries. Through a series of panels and a keynote address from Cina Lawson, Minister of Digital Transformation in Togo, “Reimagining Development Aid” showcased early results from CEGA research as well as insights from government and NGO partners who are leveraging innovative approaches and underutilized sources of data to dramatically improve their crisis preparedness and response–at a small fraction of the cost.
Cina Lawson, Minister of Digital Economy and Digital Transformation in Togo, talked about her experience launching “Novissi,” Togo’s flagship digital cash transfer program. Working closely with CEGA researchers and the NGO GiveDirectly, Minister Lawson and her team successfully leveraged novel data sources and methods to deliver cash to Togolese citizens hit hardest by COVID-19.
8:00 AM | Opening Remarks
Carson Christiano, CEGA Executive Director
8:10 AM | Keynote
Cina Lawson, Minister of Digital Transformation in Togo | A Data-driven Approach to Targeting Aid in Togo
8:30 AM | Session 1
Emily Aiken, UC Berkeley School of Information | Machine Learning and Mobile Phone Data Can Improve the Targeting of Humanitarian Assistance
Simon Quinn, University of Oxford Economics | Targeting a Job Intervention for Syrian Refugees
Ted Miguel and Michael Walker, UC Berkeley Economics | Targeting for Impact vs Deprivation in Kenya
9:30 AM | Coffee Break
9:50 AM | Session 2
Brian Dillon, Cornell University Applied Economics and Management | Food Aid Targeting in a Fast-Changing World
Carly Trachtman, UC Berkeley Agricultural & Resource Economics | How Much Do Our Neighbors Really Know? The Limits of Community-Based Targeting
Reajul Chowdhury, University of Illinois Agricultural and Applied Economics | Improved Targeting in BRAC’s Targeting the Ultra Poor (TUP) Graduation Model
Jonathan Proctor, Harvard University | Improving the Spatial Resolution of UNDP’s HDI Estimates
10:50 AM | Panel: Innovative Aid at Scale
Juan Martin, Technical Director of Prosperidad Social (DPS) in Colombia
Miriam Laker, Director of Research, GiveDirectly
Samantha Carter, Research Manager at Precision Development (PxD)
11:50 AM | Closing Remarks
Josh Blumenstock, UC Berkeley School of Information / CEGA Faculty Co-Director
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