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I'm a Director at Lead Exposure Elimination Project (LEEP). Before that I was COO at the Happier Lives Institute (HLI). I co-ran the EA: Cambridge (UK group), interned at the nonprofit Development Media International and have a PhD in geophysics.


Thanks Ruth! It's true that oil-based paints are much more common in Malawi relative to water-based paints (aka latex or emulsion) compared to more industrialised countries. Our  best guess is that 60% of decorative paints sold are oil-based in Malawi. And yes, so far the manufacturers we've been speaking to are planning on replacing the lead pigments in their oil-based paints. As far as I know, it's also possible to make water-based paints without complicated/expensive equipment. Some reasons we've heard for why oil-based paints are popular are they're easier to clean, cheaper, longer-lasting, and people having aesthetic preferences for the gloss. 

Water-based paint is much less likely to contain lead so it would probably be good if it was used more, but I think it would be harder to change the buying habits of large numbers of people than for manufacturers to replace lead ingredients. 

Hi! We at LEEP would also be excited about a campaign at something like $100 million/year - great to see you submitted the idea Rory. We recently wrote this  proposal aimed at the Biden administration with some of our ideas: https://www.dayoneproject.org/post/eliminating-childhood-lead-poisoning-worldwide

And yes, we’re currently a small team (3 FTE), but hoping to expand significantly later this year!

Thanks CE team! I was chatting to a driver here in Freetown today about this. He thought that enforcement would be a big barrier (as you say in the summary). It's common for drivers to pay bribes to police officers - for example, if you're caught drink-driving, apparently you can usually pay some money and then continue on your way. You can even buy a driving license without taking any kind of driving test.
He also said that they don't have a law about wearing a  motorcycle helmet at the moment because of ebola and covid making it unsafe to share a helmet? 

A couple of observations related to your points from Freetown, Sierra Leone (I'm not too sure if this would be similar to the locations considered here). First, there are lots of traffic jams. My journey times are _much_ more heavily dependent on the amount of traffic than speed limits. It's pretty rare that there's open, good-enough roads to get up speed (but when there are, drivers go pretty fast). Second, the police pull drivers over regularly - usually for no reason other than to check the driver's license (as far as I can tell). It's common that the police ask for money regardless of whether you have your license (e.g. it's easy to say they saw you breaking some rule - the driver can't do anything other than argue or pay up).

I'm from the lead exposure charity mentioned (LEEP: https://leadelimination.org/) - if banning lead paint counts as urban development then feel free to email me clare@leadelimination.org - we can definitely suggest some countries we're beginning work in.  

Thanks for this Sanjay! I have been told that the Charities Commission are being particularly slow at the moment, which pushed me towards seeking outside help - to aim to get it right first time. 

Another option is to find some lawyers willing to help pro bono (for free). Although early, so far I have had a very positive experience with Latham & Watkins: https://www.lw.com/AboutUs/ProBono. I was connected via Charity Entrepreneurship, I don't know how easy it is to find other options. 

On life expectancy

How much variation in life expectancy is there across and within counties? I would expect the life expectancy of those whose lives are saved by GiveWell charities to be among the very lowest and if there’s lots of variation in life expectancy, then the relevant life expectancy could be significantly lower than at the county or national level. [...] Your bounds seem too high to me, given the evidence you cite.

That’s a good point - something we could look into more next time. (In general we spent more time on the decisions specific to using SWB rather than general technicalities, but of course, if people are going to use the results then these are important too.)

Technically, we should look at life expectancy given the current age rather than life expectancy at birth, and this increases as we survive more years (in practice).

Yes that’s true - we mentioned this in a previous version which got dropped, which is my omission. From WHO life tables, the life expectancy for 0-1 year olds is 64.4 and for 1-4 year olds is 66.1 (for Kenyan boys, in 2016 - for girls it’s 68.9 and 70.3), so not a huge difference, although this could be tightened up in future.

I’m not entirely sure how life expectancy is calculated but I think that ideally, you’d also account for life expectancy trends over time.

You’re right. Our World in Data provides a helpful explanation of the different types of life expectancy. We used the UN’s projected life expectancy for 2020-2025, so this should predict how long we can expect babies born today to live. You can see graphs for Kenya here and here (I haven’t figured out the exact methodology and the differences between their ‘standard’ and ‘probabilistic’ projections).

Thanks a lot for your detailed comments Aidan, and others at Founders Pledge! We really appreciate the feedback and think our future work on this will benefit from it a great deal. Michael, Joel and I will reply to your comments individually.

On the major comment: This is a great point and something I hadn’t thought of before. Your explanation is very helpful. It’s really striking how large a difference it makes. We will update the post and Guesstimate model soon to correct this.

One thing I can’t quite get my head round - if we divide E(C) by E(L) then don’t we lose all the information about the uncertainty in each estimate? Are we able to say that the value of averting a death is somewhere between X and Y times that to doubling consumption (within 90% confidence)?

Hi Matt. Thanks for your concrete suggestions on the data visualisation. I think we made the mistake of adding more and more information without re-thinking what exactly we’re trying to show.

On how the work is being received by other evaluation orgs: I’m not too sure. I suspect other orgs will be more interested in how we do the final evaluation, rather than the preliminary filtering. Hopefully we’ll also get more feedback this weekend at EAGxVirtual (Jasper is giving a talk).

And from mental health experts: My impression from speaking to several academics is that there’s a real effort in global mental health (GMH) at the moment to show that cost-effective interventions exist (this being important to policy-makers) - see e.g. Levin & Chisholm (2016) and WHO draft menu of cost-effective interventions. We have also had quite a few senior researchers offering their support or advice. We hope that our work on cost-effectiveness of micro-interventions will be useful as part of this wider context. One person we spoke to said that a systematic review, perhaps done in collaboration with a university, would be taken more seriously by academics than our current plan. This seems very likely to be true, with the obvious downside that it would be a lot more work.

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