Feb 15, 2021

Blumenstock’s AI Work Brings Cash Aid to Rural Residents in Togo

From NPR

The Pandemic Pushed This Farmer Into Deep Poverty. Then Something Amazing Happened

By Malaka Gharib

The pandemic has been tough for Eric Dossekpli. The 49-year-old farmer from Anfoin Avele, a town in the west African country of Togo, had trouble selling his peanuts, black-eyed peas, maize and cassava at the market. Customers couldn't buy much because of their own pandemic income loss. Then he couldn't afford fertilizer to keep growing his crops...

Shegun Adjadi Bakari, advisor to Togo's president, consulted with Esther Duflo, who in 2019 won a Nobel prize for her experimental approach to alleviating poverty — using randomized control trials to see if programs were working. Her suggestion: Get in touch with Joshua Blumenstock!

Blumenstock, an associate professor at the School of Information at Berkeley, has been researching new and different ways to measure poverty. His lab showed that computers can detect levels of wealth just by satellite imagery, and that the way people use their cell phones can be a pretty good indicator of how rich or poor they are....


Josh Blumenstock
Joshua Blumenstock, assistant professor at the Berkeley School of Information and faculty co-director of the UC Berkeley Center for Effective Global Action

Last updated:

February 18, 2021