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Survey suggests 28-fold return on Tearfund projects

27 March 2023

Paul Mbonankira/Tearfund

The Anglican parish church in Gisagazuba, Burundi, works with Tearfund

The Anglican parish church in Gisagazuba, Burundi, works with Tearfund

TEARFUND’s model of supporting communities by engaging with churches in Africa produces significant social value, a study suggests.

In its report, published on Sunday, the research consultancy State of Life explains that it has used a new metric — the “wellbeing-adjusted life year” (WELLBY) — to measure the monetary equivalent of social value.

Its conclusion, based on almost 8000 survey responses from Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, was that every £1 invested in church projects delivered £28 of social value.

Tearfund works with churches to provide training programmes for their communities. The aim is sustainable improvement in individuals’ economic, personal, and social lives, as well as their spiritual well-being. The initiatives are not funded by Tearfund, but rely on the communities’ mobilising resources themselves.

The study suggests that people who engaged with Tearfund’s programmes were 51 per cent more likely to have the same or higher earnings compared with the previous year, as well as 26 per cent less likely to have gone without enough food.

A press release quotes Beatrice, a labourer from Rwanda, who, with the help of Tearfund’s programme, has set up her own business.

“I was invited to attend training in the church. I started thinking of having a plan for the development of my family. It was hard, but I was encouraged by others. We now have enough food to feed our children and pay school fees; I no longer work for others, because we have our own business,” she said. She could now also help disabled and elderly people in her community.

Tearfund’s director of advocacy, Dr Ruth Valerio, said: “Thanks to foodbanks and support programmes, people have become increasingly aware of churches’ outsized contribution to our communities during the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. Now we’ve shown that investing in churches is also an incredibly cost-effective way of helping people in lower-income countries — all the more important, given squeezed aid budgets. This report proves what Tearfund has seen around the world for over 50 years: that the Church is a superhero.”

The full report can be read on the Tearfund website here.

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