Henry in field

In 2017, GiveDirectly launched a Universal Basic Income Program. As part of this program, we are running a randomized control trial across 295 rural villages in the Western and Rift Valley region of Kenya. The results of the study will help us understand the potential impact that a basic income could have on eradicating poverty worldwide.

In the summer of 2019, we photographed some of our UBI recipients and collected anecdotal information on what they’ve spent their funds on to date. These photographs are not randomly selected (we chose some of our very favorite photos to share here) and they only provide a snapshot into a small handful of recipients’ lives. You can read more unfiltered, unedited, live-stream stories from recipients on GDLive.

Frederick & Zubeta

Frederick and Zubeta standing outside their home
Frederick with his daughter turning on a lightswitch

Fredrick A. and his wife Zubeta N. have used part of their basic income funds to install solar-powered electricity in their home. Kenya produces about 70% of their electricity from renewable sources, leapfrogging older technology (like landline phones) by using solar power. 


Irene outside her home
Irene with her phone

Irene N. — who is a teacher — used her UBI transfer to cover school fees for her son. Each day, Irene walks her students home from school before returning home herself.


Joyce outside her home
Joyce cooking outside her home
Joyce's children outside their home

Joyce O. purchased a solar-powered television for her family with part of her transfer.


Wellington outside his home

Wellington O. used his transfer to replace his small thatched-roof home with a larger mud house built using iron sheets for a roof. In 2013, GiveDirectly published a blog post outlining the benefits of installing a metal roof.


Henry with his mango tree
Henry at his farm
Henry with a field of crops

Henry O. built out infrastructure for his farm, where he keeps livestock and grows mangoes.

Learn more about GiveDirectly’s 12-year Universal Basic Income study — and launch a basic income for someone living in extreme poverty — at givedirectly.org/ubi-study.

Feedback on this blog post format? We want to hear from you. Send an email to heidi.hirvonen@givedirectly.org.

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