$10 to buy a mosquito net to prevent malaria

Monday, June 02, 2008

Today's article on this subject from the New York Times is another good example of how people are more motivated to do good things when they are well-informed as to exactly what they are doing. There was another article a few days back about how the Prius enables people to actively compete for a higher mpg thanks to having the information in front of them in real-time, and this article is about the popularity of donating exactly $10 to buy a mosquito net to save a life (because no malaria = alive and healthy).

Here are some good parts:

It is an appeal that clearly resonates with young people.

Addressing a conference of 6,000 Methodist youths in North Carolina last year, Bishop Thomas Bickerton held up his own $10 and told the crowd: “This represents your lunch today at McDonald’s or your pizza tonight from Domino’s. Or you could save a human life.”

The lights were so bright that he could see only what was happening at his feet. “They just showered the stage with $10 bills,” Bishop Bickerton said. “In 30 seconds, we had $16,000. I’m just lucky they didn’t throw coins.”

Part of what has helped the campaign catch on is its sheer simplicity and affordability — $10 buys one net to save a child. Nothing But Nets, the best-known campaign, has raised $20 million from 70,000 individuals, most of it in donations averaging $60.


“The first time I donated money, after my bar mitzvah, it was for someone who needed a heart transplant,” said Daniel Fogel, 18, a founder of his Waltham, Mass., high school’s juggling club, which raised $2,353 for nets last year. “But I had the feeling: Am I really helping? But if you can say $10 saves a life, that makes students feel they can help a lot. And every student has $10.”


“You won’t find them giving money to research,” she added. “It’s too far off. But a net is something you can hold in your hand. And any time young people get interested in any form of philanthropy, it’s a good thing.”

Crucial to the drive against malaria, which kills an estimated one million people a year, mostly in Africa, has been the development of an inexpensive, long-lasting insecticidal net. Unlike old nets, which either had no insecticide or had to be dipped twice a year, the new ones keep killing or repelling mosquitoes for three to five years. When more than 60 percent of the inhabitants of a village use them over their beds while they are sleeping, malaria rates usually drop sharply.


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