Killing Two Development Problems with One Tablet

November 16, 2011

Development news like this report of a large-scale de-worming program from India makes my day. Why?

Four very good reasons:

1) At scale intervention, 2) Easy to administer, 3) Low-cost, and 4) multi-impact

It’s always exciting to read about proven development solutions that go to scale because of their potential impact--in this case, a state-wide (Bihar) school-based de-worming program targeting all 21 million school-age children. To put that number into perspective, it’s almost the size of Australia’s population! More importantly, we rarely hear about large-scale programs that involve proven interventions that have spillover benefits. Bihar’s state government implemented a simple (1 or 2 tablets per child per year), safe, low-cost (~ $0.50 per child per year), and proven effective intervention to keep worms out of little children, and to keep children in school. This prevents malnutrition and anemia of course, but it also reduces absenteeism, and increases children’s ability to learn.

But why does this matter?

Of course, it will be important to understand how health, nutrition, and learning outcomes in Bihar are affected by this large scale administration of a simple solution. But, for now, there is one big lesson for the jet-set development thinkers: in our current era of innovation as a hot topic, novel solutions for the world’s most important problems are more likely to move from idea to high-impact action if they think big, simple, cheap, and laterally.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.