This post was originally published on the Devex blog, #innov8aid
The application of innovative models in international development has captured the attention of program implementers, funders, researchers and policymakers alike. Numerous innovations have been conceived and launched, however, there are many obstacles to identifying and accelerating the spread of innovative policies and practices that improve the lives of the poor.
Throughout our five years documenting and tracking innovations across health, education, and water, sanitation and hygiene, we noted that there were few examples of programs reaching scale. Innovations have potential for impact, but many of them face challenges of quality, affordability and sustainability, which limit their potential to scale and adapt. We also noted promising models seeking to scale require iteration to learn and improve upon their practices, but the cost of learning can be steep, and available sources of funding do not always align with programs’ “learning” needs.
Results for Development Institute has launched a series of innovation platforms — including the Center for Health Market Innovations, the Center for Education Innovations, and Innovations in WASH — to address these critical challenges and find new approaches to creating system-level change and diffusing promising components of programs beyond scaling one or two organizations. Early on, we realized that our simple mandate translated into a very complex set of activities. When we set out to document innovative programs, we found that the tools available for obtaining and spreading information about innovations were lacking. There was little information on which innovations work well and “how and why” these models are working. And few steps had been made toward and obvious way of addressing these deficiencies.
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Gina Lagomarsino is a Principal, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director at Results for Development Institute, with a focus on health system design and financing. Gina also leads the Center for Health Market Innovations and is a cofounder of the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage, a network of policymakers in low- and middle-income countries working to accelerate the successful adoption of national health insurance reforms.