Volunteer Heaven!

The response to my Call for Volunteers last week has been amazing…so many dataheads, so little time! Thanks so much to everyone who’s written in. (And to those I haven’t managed to talk to yet – please look for me on Skype this weekend!)

The project is simple, but ambitious: we want to crowdsource a specific, costed, budgeted, worked out model for a Conditional Cash Transfer scheme in Venezuela on the basis of real data taken from INE’s Household Survey.

The goal is twofold:

  1. To launch a serious, specific, paja-free debate within the Venezuelan Oppostion about CCTs, and,
  2. To start to craft a proposal the Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Transición can actually use circa 2013.

To do so, we want to put the model online, through an Estimation Platform where anybody can input key variables (income threshold to qualify for benefits, how much money to transfer per school-aged child, etc.) and generate, right then and there, specific estimates for the overall cost of the program, the impact on poverty and extreme poverty levels, on likely child laborforce participation levels, and on school attendance among poor kids.

This is the kind of work that, in a normal country, a Think Tank would do. In Venezuela, though, blogs have to do it. After initial conversations with a number of you, I’m sure the project is technically feasible, and politically useful vis-à-vis The Day After.

My role will be to act as a facilitator – I just don’t have the technical capacity to do the actual analytical work. I can, though, leverage this blog as a clearinghouse for volunteers to come together and get it done.

One final thing. I don’t know Daniel Ortega (the social researcher, I mean, not the pervert.) But every expert I’ve talked to about the project tells me the same thing: “you need to draft Daniel Ortega, he knows this field better than anyone”.

So if you know Daniel Ortega, help me draft him!

And if you are Daniel Ortega definitely send me an email.

caracaschronicles at fastmail dot fm