There is a new experiment being run in Haiti:
Would a personal assistant help? An experiment here may answer that.
Half of the commune’s 10,000 households are being assigned a “household development agent” — a neighbour who will work as a health educator, vaccinator, epidemiologist, financial analyst, social worker, scheduler and advocate all at the same time. With the agent’s help, a family will assess its needs and come up with a plan to make things better.
“The idea is to forge a relationship from the get-go,” said Maryanne Sharp, an official at the World Bank, which is overseeing the $4 million project. “We want the family to say, ‘Yes, we own the plan and we will work on these objectives on this timetable.’ “
The other 5,000 households will function as a control group, continuing as they have, scrounging out a living in one of Haiti’s poorest and most isolated places.
In two years, the families will be resurveyed and their children and houses re-examined. If those with agents are doing better, then the strategy of coaching people out of poverty may be expanded to the whole country.
I would like to see a third group, which receives cash instead of the assistant or nothing. By the way, the coaches have received extensive training:
They spent multiple week-long stays in the nearby town of Hinche learning what a vaccine does, how to calculate a dosage and how to give an injection. They learned about ways to purify water and get a micro-finance loan. They learned how to raise consciousness, even as theirs was being raised.
Still, on average they have a 9th grade education. The coaches also receive bonuses for doing a good job, such as measured by the number of child vaccinations. Another version of the link is here, with photos.