Site Visits: October 2014

In October 2014, GiveWell staff traveled to Burkina Faso and Uganda as part of our research process to identify top-rated charities, with the primary purpose of visiting Development Media International and Living Goods.

Table of Contents

Development Media International

Development Media International (DMI) produces radio and television broadcasts in developing countries that encourage people to adopt improved health practices, such as exclusive breastfeeding of infants and seeking treatment for symptoms associated with fatal diseases. The program aims to reduce mortality among children less than five years old.

GiveWell staff visited DMI’s program in Burkina Faso to meet with DMI’s country staff and see parts of the program in person. The week-long trip included:

  • Extensive conversations with Country Director Matthew Lavoie, Radio Executive Producer and Trainer Pieter Remes, and other staff.
  • A visit to one of DMI’s seven partner radio stations to watch preparation and live broadcast of DMI programming and speak with station staff.
  • Meetings with national government officials that have supported DMI’s campaign in the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Communication.
  • Meetings with representatives from Micronutrient Initiative and the Initiaties Conseil International.
  • Interviews with professionals in the rural health system.

Notes from the visit can be found here. (conversations dated October 14-17, 2014 occurred during the site visit)

Living Goods

Living Goods runs a network of Community Health Promoters (CHPs) who sell health and household goods door-to-door in their communities in Uganda and Kenya and provide basic health counseling. Living Goods also provides consulting and funding to BRAC to run a similar network in Uganda and to other organizations to run similar networks in other locations.

GiveWell staff visited Living Goods' program in Uganda to meet with Living Goods' and BRAC's staff and to see parts of the program in person. The three-day trip included:

  • Conversations with Country Director Alfred Wise, Director of Development Lisa McCandless, branch management staff at two Living Goods branches, and other Living Goods staff.
  • Field visits with CHPs.
  • A visit to a health training session for new CHPs and branch managers.
  • A visit to a BRAC branch and conversations with BRAC staff and CHPs.

Notes from GiveWell's visit to Living Goods in Uganda are here.


GiveDirectly transfers cash to poor households in developing countries via mobile money services. It is currently active in Kenya and Uganda. GiveDirectly's standard model involves grants of $1,000 (USD) per household over approximately one year, after which recipients become ineligible. GiveDirectly aims to help the poorest households, targeting those that are in "acute poverty." To date, it has transferred a high proportion of its total costs directly to recipients.

GiveWell staff visited GiveDirectly's program in Uganda to meet with its in-country staff, visit recipient households, and observe parts of its process. The three-day trip included:

  • Conversations with Piali Mukhopadhyay, GiveDirectly's COO (International) (notes)
  • Conversations with Stuart Skeates, GiveDirectly's Uganda Field Director (notes)
  • Conversations with GiveDirectly field staff (notes)
  • Meetings with GiveDirectly recipients and observations of a cash out day (notes)