The Costs of Inaction

From AfricaCan End Poverty Tue Jan 22 2013, 11:42:46

Sudhir Anand and co-authors recently published a fascinating book, The Costs of Inaction, which looks at cost-benefit analysis in a different way. All cost-benefit analysis requires the analyst to specify a counterfactual--how the world would have evolved in the absence of the project of program. This is critical. An evaluation in Kenya included increased use of cellphones as an indicator of project success -- neglecting the fact that cellphone use in neighboring villages was just as widespread.

In many cases, the counterfactual could be "doing nothing." For a number of important areas such as health and education in Africa, The Costs of Inaction calculates the costs of doing nothing in terms of lives lost or under-educated children.

They then compare these to the net benefits (benefits minus costs) of various programs, such as school feeding in Rwanda or free male circumcision in Angola. The difference between the net benefits of the program and the costs of doing nothing is what they call "the costs of inaction."

In the book, the programs that are being evaluated are typically government programs. Yet, we know that the delivery of health and education services in Africa suffers from multiple government failures. Teachers in Tanzania are absent 23 percent of the time. When present, they are in class teaching a quarter of the time. In Chad, the share of nonwage health spending that reaches the clinic is one percent. And doctors in Senegal spend a total of 39 minutes a day seeing patients.

[view whole blog post ]
 See More    |     Report Abuse

You might also be interested in the following news stories:

Congo-Kinshasa:   Près de 10 000 réfugiés angolais rapatriés en 3 mois (news)
Radio Okapi
27 November 2014

Près de 10 000 réfugiés angolais ont été rapatriés, entre septembre et novembre derniers, dans leur pays d'origine sur environ 38 000 recensés en RDC, ... [read more]

Angola:   Foreign Minister Georges Chikoti Meets With German Counterpart (news)
Angola Press Agency
27 November 2014

The Angolan minister of Foreign Affairs, Georges Rebelo Chikoti, is making an official visit to Germany, is to meet this Thursday with his local counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. [read more]

Angola:   Angolan Officials Work in Brazzaville (news)
Angola Press Agency
27 November 2014

The Territory Administration minister, Bornito de Sousa, and the secretary of State for Housing, Joaquim Silvestre, arrived last Wednesday in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, to participate in the ... [read more]

blogAfrica is's platform to help you keep an ear on the African blogosphere. We draw diverse voices from around the world who post regularly and insightfully about African issues. Bloggers, submit your blog's rss-feed!