The second ebook in the Rotarian Economist Short Books Series has been published. Partnerships, innovation, and evaluation can increase the quality, scope, and reach of Rotary’s service work in communities. The book suggests with case studies how this can be done. All books in the series are free and available here in multiple formats. Please share this link widely with others for them to be able to benefit from this resource. And if you like the books in the series, please consider writing a quick review at Smashwords!
Next week, as I take time off from work, I will start working on a series of free ebooks for Rotarians and others interested in service work. The ebooks will be released in coming months. If you have ideas or know of projects that I should cover in this new series, please let me know by commenting on this post or sending me an email.
A first set of ebooks will be about Rotary and ways to strengthen the organization. Let me give three examples.
First, I will provide estimates of the footprint of Rotary, starting with data from the United States. For example, Rotarians know about the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. But they often do not know about the richness of the activities implemented by club foundations and how much Rotary as a whole contributes to “serving humanity”, the theme for this Rotary year. I will provide estimates of our total contribution – which is large. My hope is that these estimates can then be used to better tell our story.
Second, I will advocate for the need to invest more in partnerships, innovation, and evaluation in Rotary. I will argue for such investments, and share examples of great projects that have achieved impact in each of the areas of focus of the Rotary Foundation as well as polio through partnerships, innovation, and evaluation.
Third, I will share experiences of successful Rotary clubs, starting with my own and how we succeeded in doubling our membership in six months since July thanks in part to changes adopted at the beginning of the Rotary year. I will share lessons learned that I hope will be useful to other clubs.
Project Design in Areas of Focus
In addition, ahead of the Atlanta Rotary International convention, I will prepare a series of short ebooks providing basic facts as well as good practice advise and great project stories about our areas of focus for service work (fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, growing local economies, and promoting peace).
The hope is that these ebooks will help Rotary clubs and districts as well as other organizations choose and prepare great projects by building on the experience accumulated not only by Rotary (including Rotarian Action Groups) but also by other organizations.
Let Me Know Your Ideas
If you know of specific projects that I should cover in this new series of free ebooks, or more broadly of successful initiatives taken by clubs or districts that I should be aware of, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
You can do so by sharing a comment on this post or by contacting me by email if you prefer (through the Contact Me page of this blog).
Good health is fundamental for development. This post, the third in a series on open access World Bank publications, provides easy access to a selection of more than 50 books and reports published since 2010 by the World Bank on health, nutrition, and population. The publications were compiled as a resource for participants at the 2016 Rotary Presidential Conference on Disease Prevention and Treatment in Cannes, France. The list of publications is available here.
Rotary International has long recognized the importance of health. PolioPlus, the first global campaign aiming to eradicate polio through mass vaccination of children, was launched in 1985 by Rotary. In 1988 Rotary became a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a public-private partnership in which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and a number of national governments are also engaged and contributing.
In addition, disease prevention and treatment, and saving the lives of mothers and children, are two of the six areas of focus of the Rotary Foundation with large funding commitments, and many Rotary clubs and districts around the world implementing projects.
How can clubs and districts contribute to efforts to improve health, nutrition, and population outcomes worldwide? These are some of the questions that will be discussed at the Cannes conference, one of five flagship conferences organized by Rotary International in 2015-16. The other conferences are on peace and conflict resolution in California, economic development in Cape Town, literacy and WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) in schools in Kolkata, and WASH in schools in Manila.
The compilation of recent World Bank publications on health, nutrition, and population made available here is provided as a service to Rotarians and others working on those areas without any endorsement of the World Bank as to which publications should be featured. Access is provided through the World Bank’s Open Knowledge Repository. In order to keep the list manageable, the focus is on books and reports published since 2010 as opposed to other publications. Only publications from the World Bank are listed simply because covering (many) other organizations would be a rather complex task. At the same time, focusing on World Bank has the advantage of being able to go global with a single organization.
The hope is that the publications listed, and more generally the World Bank’s open access knowledge resources, will be useful to conference participants and others working on health, nutrition, and population.
Conflict and violence have dramatic negative consequences for development and the ability of populations to emerge from poverty. At least 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of political and/or criminal violence. One fifth of the extreme poor worldwide live today in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS), but this proportion could double by 2030 if current trends continue.
Low-income FCS countries have not been able to achieve the targets set forth in the Millennium Development Goals in part because of conflict and violence. In recognition of the impact of conflict and violence on development, the Sustainable Development Goals recently approved by the international community include a goal on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.
Rotary’s Peace Conference
How do conflict and violence affect development, and what can be done to reduce the risks of conflict and violence and instead promote peace? These are some of the questions that will be discussed at the Rotary Presidential Conference on Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution or World Peace Conference to be held on January 15-16, 2016 in Ontario, California. The conference is one of five flagship conferences organized by Rotary International in 2015-16. The other conferences will be on disease prevention and treatment in Cannes, economic development in Cape Town, literacy and WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) in schools in Kolkata, and WASH in schools in Manila.
The World Peace Conference will include more than 80 panel and facilitated sessions as well as plenary sessions. It is expected to attract a couple of thousand participants. You are encouraged to attend, as it promises to be a great experience!
Apart from Rotary International President K. R. Ravindran and Rotary Foundation Chair Ray Klinginsmith, keynote speakers will include Sal Khan (founder and CEO of Khan Academy), Sharon Stone (Actress), Father Greg Boyle (Executive Director of Homeboy Industries), Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Director of the Peace Corps), Dr. Bernd Wollschläger (author of A German Life: Against All Odds Change is Possible), Barbara Winton (the daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton who organized the rescue of Jewish children from Czechoslovakia in 1939), Steve Killelea (Founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace), and Mary Peters (United States Ambassador).
Open Access Resources
Rotary is of course not the only organization emphasizing peace in its service and development work. Issues related to peace, fragility, conflict, and violence have been at the core of a substantial part of the work of development organizations for many years. This means that the World Bank as well as other organizations have substantial knowledge to share with researchers, practitioners, and policy makers in these areas.
As a contribution to Rotary’s World Peace Conference, this blog is providing a guide to selected open access publications from the World Bank that could help conference participants think about conflict, violence, and development. The publications listed are made available through the World Bank’s Open Knowledge Repository. The focus on resources provided by the World Bank is driven by practicality as including other organizations would yield a rather unwieldy list of available resources. At the same time, focusing on the World Bank has the advantage of being able to go global with a single organization. In order to keep the guide manageable, the focus is on open access books as opposed to other publications such as working papers, articles, and briefs.
Selected Recent Books and Reports
You can access 45 selected World Bank books and reports published since 2010 on conflict, violence, and adversity either by downloading the guide prepared for conference participants, or by going to the Promoting peace page of this blog. The selection of the books and reports was based on the topics to be considered at Rotary’s Peace Conference. The scope of the conference is broad, with 13 parallel tracks apart from plenary sessions. The 13 tracks of the conference have been “aggregated” into 9 topics for listing World Bank publications: (1) Conflict, Development, and Trade; (2) Fighting Crime, Violence, and Terrorism; (3) Proving Services in Contexts of Adversity; (4) Middle East Region; (5) Equity and Discrimination; (6) Social Norms and Violence Against Women; (7) Jobs and Employment; (8) Education and Health, Including Role of Faith-based Providers; and finally (9) Governance and Institutions.
The hope is that the publications selected, and more generally the World Bank’s open access knowledge resources, will be useful to conference participants and others dealing directly or indirectly with issues of conflict, violence, and adversity when implementing projects in developing and developed countries alike. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if these resources are useful, or not so much so!
This post is the last in a series of nine posts on partnerships, innovation, and evaluation in Rotary. The rationale for the series was my conviction that if Rotary is to have a larger impact globally, it must rely more than has been the case so far on partnerships, innovation, and evaluation (and in some areas advocacy, as has been the case with polio). Seven different projects or investments that have relied on partnerships, were innovative, and were evaluated at least in some way, were showcased. A compilation of the case studies together with a brief introduction is available here. Separate briefs are also available for each of the projects here.
As I mentioned it in the introduction to the series, partnerships help to implement larger projects and benefit from the expertise of organizations that are among the best in their field. Rotary’s Foundation was created almost 100 years ago (the Centennial is next year) and it has about $1 billion in assets. This is respectable, but in the world of development projects, which is in practice where Rotary is investing most of its funds, this remains small. Without innovation, the contribution of Rotary is an important drop, but still a drop in the development assistance bucket.
By contrast, if Rotary clubs and district innovate, successful pilots can then be scaled up by other organizations with deeper pockets, thereby potentially achieving much larger impact. However, for innovative projects to be recognized as such, proper evaluations are needed. We must be able to demonstrate the impact of pilot projects. Innovation and evaluation are like twins: they work best in pairs. Together, partnerships, innovation, and evaluation are the key to larger impact.
To encourage clubs and districts to think bigger and more strategically, stories of great projects were shared: an innovative financing mechanism for polio eradication; an award winning project fighting malaria and Ebola in Mali; a teacher training program that is transforming teaching and learning in Nepali classrooms; a project on obstetric fistula saving the lives of mothers and children in Nigeria; a program to invest in the writing skills of disadvantaged youth in the United States; a project to improve access to water and sanitation in Uganda; and a global network of Peace Centers and Peace Fellows to help promote peace.
Some of these programs and projects are large. Others are small. Most were implemented through global grants, but one was implemented through a district grant. All these projects have been in one way or another innovative. They have all leveraged partnerships not only to crowd in financial resources, but also – and even more importantly – to build on great expertise. And they have all relied on monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to assess their impact, at least partially.
Putting together great projects requires work. Fundraising is often time consuming in Rotary given the funding model of the Rotary Foundation that requires raising funds from many clubs and districts first before getting a match from the Foundation. Planning, implementing, and in addition evaluating projects also takes time, especially when one tries to do this in a professional way. Finally, in order to be innovative, Rotarians leading projects need to be aware of where the frontier is in their field, and what could be innovative. This also takes some time.
There is nothing wrong with clubs and districts funding and implementing traditional Rotary projects. Most projects will continue to be fairly simple, with funds provided to worthy charitable causes. These projects, as well as the volunteer time often contributed by Rotarians when implementing them, serve an important purpose. The beneficiaries of these projects are better off thanks to them. These projects help communities, and they also benefit Rotary through the goodwill that the projects create.
But if we want to raise the bar and achieve larger impact, we also need to do more innovative projects. Rotary needs to be bolder, more ambitious. It needs to better learn from its projects, both the great and not so great ones, and make sure that lessons learned are shared broadly, well beyond the Rotary family. The launch of the Future Vision model, despite some challenges, was a step in the right direction. As we celebrate the Centennial of the Rotary Foundation next year, let’s make sure that we have the right vision for what Rotary and its Foundation could accomplish in the next 100 years.
Yesterday, on October 11, the world marked the International Day of the Girl Child. While the day is an opportunity to advocate for girls’ rights across many sectors, one persistent, pernicious issue deserves renewed attention: the high prevalence of child marriage. This is an issue of importance for governments, but also for NGOs, including service club organizations such as Rotary that are investing substantially in education and health.
Every year, 15 million girls marry before the age of 18. Child marriage is associated with higher health risks for these girls and their children. It also contributes to high population growth, thereby threatening access of households to the often scarce resources they need to thrive, and putting pressures on government budgets to deliver quality services.
The elimination of child, early and forced marriage is now part of the Sustainable Development Goals under Target 5 – achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. This is good news. But for governments, NGOs, and communities to take the challenge of the elimination of child marriage seriously, more evidence is needed on the negative impacts of child marriage, as well as what works to eliminate the practice.
The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the World Bank are collaborating in an innovative, three-year research project to do just that. The project involves the most extensive data analysis – and for three countries, new data collection – undertaken so far to better understand and measure the economic costs of child marriage. Funding for the project is provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.
A brief on selected preliminary results from the analysis was shared at a side event at the United Nations General Assembly last month. It suggests that child marriage has large negative effects on population, health, and nutrition.
Fertility and Population Growth
The number of children a woman has over her lifetime has significant impacts on her health, her ability to engage in activities outside of the household, and the poverty level of her household. Analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys for a half dozen countries suggests large impacts of child marriage on the number of live births for a woman over her lifetime. In Nigeria, for example, girls who married at age 12 have a number of births higher by 30% on average than women who married after the age of 18. Even marrying at age 17, rather than 18, increases the number of births by 18%.
On average, women marrying as children have 1.4 more children over their lifetime than if they marry after the age of 18. In some countries such as Egypt, the impact is smaller, but in other countries such as Ethiopia, it is larger.
Because girls who marry early have a higher number of births over their lifetime, child marriage contributes to higher population growth. Estimates suggest that in countries with a high incidence of child marriage, such as Niger, annual rates of population growth could be reduced substantially each year if child marriage were eliminated, and there were no increases in births outside of marriage by adolescent girls. The implications of these changes at the aggregate level for both government and private expenditures would be significant, placing less demand on often over-stretched services and infrastructure, as well as government and private budgets, and generating a potentially large “demographic dividend.”
Under-Five Mortality and Malnutrition
Child marriage increases the risk of maternal and under-five mortality and morbidity, leading to significant social and economic impacts from the individual level to the national level. Analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys suggests that the risk of death before age five for children increases substantially when the child is born to a mother below 18 years of age, as compared to a child with similar characteristics born to an older mother. Delaying marriage therefore would help reduce infant and child mortality.
Children born to child brides also have a higher risk of malnutrition than children born to older mothers — a significant barrier to the health of the child, their educational prospects, and, in the longer term, their contribution to household and national economies through their labor. Analysis based on Demographic and Health Surveys suggests that children born from child brides have higher risks of stunting than children born from mothers older than 18, with additional risks resulting from a higher likelihood of low birthweight. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, the effect is estimated at seven percentage points. At the aggregate level, this could have significant effects for countries seeking to enhance the human capacity and health of their population.
It is often said that the process of development is multidimensional, with vulnerabilities in some areas affecting other areas. Child marriage is a perfect example of this, since it affects so many areas in the lives of the girls who marry early, their children, and their communities. This is true for health, nutrition, and population, but also for education, labor force participation and earnings, decision-making ability within the household, and even the risk of gender-based violence. As a result, the economic impacts and associated costs of child marriage are large and far-reaching.
Results from joint ICRW-World Bank research on this issue will be updated on the project website as they become available. A launch event for sharing the main results from the first phase of the research is planned for the second half of November 2015 at the World Bank.
This post is reproduced with minor changes from a post by the author on the World Bank’s Investing in Health blog available at http://blogs.worldbank.org/health/.
By partnering with the World Bank in an innovative way, Rotary has successfully leveraged its funding for polio eradication, contributing to success towards one year without polio in Nigeria and in Africa. This post, the second in a series on partnerships, innovation, and evaluation, explains how the innovative polio buy-down mechanism has worked.
Last month, Africa achieved a key milestone towards polio eradication, with no case of polio observed for a full year. It will still take a few weeks for the World Health Organization to officially certify this milestone, and for the region to be declared polio-free, no polio cases should be observed for a period of three years. Still, tremendous progress towards polio eradication has been accomplished. Just a few years ago, hundreds of cases of polio were observed annually in Nigeria. The country achieved its first full year without polio on July 24, 2015. This will leave only Afghanistan and Pakistan on the list of polio-endemic countries.
As noted in a recent post on the World Bank health blog, achieving one year without polio in Nigeria required persistence and courage. In some areas, professionals and volunteers who led the polio campaigns risked their life: Boko Haram assassinated nine polio vaccinators two years ago in the north of the country. Vaccinators had to rely on “hit and run” tactics to reduce exposure to risk, vaccinating children quickly in the morning and leaving the area by the afternoon. (For an understanding of the role of a wide range of people at the heart of polio eradication (in the case of Afghanistan), see the great slide show provided by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.)
The polio campaigns also required great effort and creativity from multiple agencies, including through an innovative buy-down mechanism implemented by the World Bank and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Rotary International and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control via the U.N. Foundation. (The Gates Foundation and Rotary International are the two largest donors worldwide towards polio eradication over the last 30 years.) Partnership with the government of Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF, among others, was also crucial to the success of the campaigns.
How did the polio buy-down mechanism work? The basic idea was for the World Bank to fund polio eradication projects through concessional IDA (International Development Association) loans. In the case of Nigeria, two projects worth $285 million, including additional financing, were implemented over the last dozen years. The projects included clauses that allowed loans to Nigeria to become grants if the country achieved a high level of polio immunization coverage. In other words, if the immunization targets indicated in the loans were achieved and verified independently through in-depth audits, the government would receive grant funding for polio eradication without the need to repay the loans.
For the government of Nigeria, this was potentially a great deal. And for the Gates Foundation and the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, this was also a pretty good investment. In general, investments towards polio eradication have been shown to be fairly cost-effective. But with the buy-down mechanism, these investments were especially cost-effective.
Due to the concessional nature of IDA loans (long-term zero or low-interest loans which grace repayment periods), for every dollar contributed to the buy-down, the actual amount of resources that could be transferred to the government for the polio campaigns was two times larger. The buy-down funds were transferred by the Gates Foundation and Rotary International (in the case of Rotary in partnership with the United Nations Foundation) to the World Bank at the start of the project, and used to repay the loan at the end of the project if the target immunization rates had been achieved.
Through this buy-down mechanism, the Gates Foundation and Rotary International were able to offset all future loan repayment obligations with a much smaller amount of funding to pay back IDA than the face value of the loans granted to Nigeria. Again, one dollar invested by these private donors generated about $2 for polio eradication in Nigeria, with a similar mechanism in place for Pakistan. The mechanism also had built-in incentives to encourage strong implementation performance by the government of Nigeria since the loans would be transformed into grants only if the specific immunization targets were to be achieved.
At the time of the first buy-down mechanism for polio, then-World Bank President James. D. Wolfensohn stated, “The partnership to buy-down loans to grants on the basis of good performance is an example of the innovative thinking occurring in the private sector and the World Bank about how to increase finances for the fight against global diseases. This financial innovation is bringing the goal of a polio-free world one large step closer to becoming reality.”
Could similar buy-down mechanisms be applied in other areas? That was probably the hope when this innovative mechanism was created for polio a dozen years ago. It seems however that with few exceptions the idea has not yet been replicated much in other development areas, even if it has been mentioned in a number of reports, including in a Results for Development report on education.
A number of conditions have to be met for this type of buy-down mechanism to be successful. But in the case of polio, it has been successful, enabling the Gates Foundations, individual Rotarian donors through the Rotary Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, and the World Bank to achieve higher impact towards polio eradication than would have been the case otherwise.
A brief on polio in Africa and the buy-down mechanism is available here.
This post is reproduced with minor changes from a post published by the author on September 2, 2015 on the World Bank’s Financing for Development blog at http://www.fin4dev.org/.
This post is the first in a series on increasing the impact of Rotary. The series will feature case studies of great service projects that have achieved larger impact through partnerships, innovation, and evaluation. The hope is that the case studies will encourage clubs and districts to think bigger in their service work. The series will cover each of the areas of focus of the Rotary Foundation, as well as polio.
Service work through volunteering or projects is at the heart of what Rotary is all about. Membership surveys suggest that the main reason why members join and remain in Rotary is the opportunity to serve (see my recent book on Rotary). Fellowship and networking are also very important, but service is first.
Rotary is a fairly decentralized organization with at its core the Rotary club. Rotarians come in many shapes and forms, beliefs and passions. There is amazing diversity in the types of service work that Rotarians engage in. This is a strength as members choose to contribute to the causes they are most passionate about.
Most of the service work that Rotarians engage in is done through volunteering, not through service projects that benefit from financial support from the Rotary Foundation (TRF). In adition, many projects implemented with TRF support are small and based on local opportunities identified by clubs. These projects may not rely on partnerships, they may not be especially innovative, and they may not be evaluated in depth. As long as it is clear to clubs and local communities that the projects are helpful, a lack of partnership, innovation or evaluation is not necessarily a major drawback. One straitjacket does not fit all in Rotary.
At the same time however, if Rotary is to have a larger impact globally, there is also a need to put together more and larger projects that do rely on partnerships, are innovative, and are monitored and evaluated properly.
Partnerships help to implement larger projects and benefit from the expertise of organizations that are among the best in their field. Partnerships may also generate visibility and media coverage for Rotary (polio is the best example). Partnerships have a cost since effort is required for collaborations to work. But if partnerships deliver scale, expertise, or visibility, gains outweigh the costs.
Innovation is even more important than partnerships to achieve larger impact and discover better ways to serve communities. Without innovation, the contribution of TRF is a drop in the development assistance bucket. TRF does have a respectable size, but in comparison to development funding, it is very small.
Total annual giving by the foundation represents less than half a percent of what the World Bank provides in development assistance every year, and this is just one of a number of development agencies. But if Rotary experiments and innovates, pilots that prove successful can be scaled up by other organizations with deeper pockets, thereby achieving larger impact.
Without serious monitoring and evaluation, innovation does not help much because impact on the ground must first be demonstrated at the pilot stage for a promising intervention to be scaled up. Innovation and evaluation are like twins: they work best as a pair. Evaluation is also needed for Rotary to learn internally from both successes and mistakes.
All three ingredients ̶ partnerships, innovation, and evaluation, can help increase the impact of Rotary’s service work. In order to encourage clubs and districts to move in that direction, this series will show how partnerships, innovation, and evaluation can be harnessed to serve Rotary’s mission of service above self.
The series will tell the story of projects in each of the areas of focus of TRF: promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, growing local economies, and eradicating polio.
You will learn about an innovative financing mechanism for polio eradication; an award winning project reducing under five mortality in Mali; a program that is transforming teaching and learning in Nepali classrooms; a project to save the life of mothers and children in Nigeria; a program to invest in the writing skills of disadvantaged youth in the United States; projects and initiatives to improve access to water and sanitation in Uganda; and the work done by Rotary with Peace Centers.
All these projects are in one way or another innovative. They all leverage partnerships. And virtually all build on solid monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Hopefully, the series will give you additional insights into some of the great projects that clubs and districts are implementing around the world.
Please do not hesitate to send me an email through the Contact Me page of this blog if you believe other projects should be featured (perhaps in another series), and feel free to post comments on the projects that you find particularly inspiring.
by Quentin Wodon
This second post in a series of three looks at how funding provided by The Rotary Foundation (TRF) is allocated. TRF disbursed $232 million in program expenses last year. More than half ($131 million) was allocated PolioPlus, with the rest allocated to Rotary grants ($92 million) and other programs ($ 8 million). This post briefly describes and discusses those investments.
TRF gave $131 million in 2013-14 for polio. While the report does not state explicitly where the funding came from, simple calculations suggest that two thirds may have come from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), with the rest provided by Rotarians. This is because from 2013 to 2018, for every dollar raised by Rotary for PolioPlus, BMGF provides a 2 to 1 match up to a maximum of $70 million per year, as shown in the Figure below. In addition, TRF’s annual report mentions a previous $20 million match by BMGF for polio on the revenue side. If the $90 million in revenues provided by BMGF for polio were allocated the same year to TRF program expenses (this is not stated explicitly in the report), then Rotarians would have contributed in 2013-14 about a third of total TRF program expenses for polio. If my assumption is erroneous, please let me know!
As mentioned in my first post for this blog, Polio used to be a devastating disease worldwide, affecting 30,000 children per year in the US alone in the mid-1950s. Thanks to vaccines and mass immunization, the number of polio cases has dropped to close to zero. This has been a great success built on public-private partnerships. While many governments have funded polio eradication campaigns, after the United States (with $2.2 billion in contributions and pledges) the two largest donors from 1985 to 2014 have been private foundations – BMGF ($1.9 billion) and Rotary International ($1.3 billion). Apart from financial donations, hundreds of thousands of volunteers – including many Rotarians – have participated in polio vaccination campaigns.
Today, it seems to me from informal conversations with fellow Rotarians that some wonder whether it still makes sense to spend that much money on a disease that now affects few children. Is this the best investment that TRF can make? This is a difficult question to answer, but there is evidence that at the very least, this is a good investment, simply because the cost of a spreading virus could be much higher than the cost of the polio eradication campaigns. A report prepared last year for BMGF suggests that previous investments of $9 billion since the creation in 1984 of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) may have generated $27 billion in net benefits out of $40-50 billion in potential benefits estimated by researchers in an economic analysis of GPEI. Investments in polio eradication campaigns do have higher initial costs than routine immunization, but they may also have greater long term payoffs.
At the same time, we need to be careful in what we promise. It is important to reach the last mile towards polio eradication, but this will not be easy. Vaccination remains difficult in conflict affected areas, and the risk of exportation of the virus from those areas to other countries is real. As the TRF report highlights, only three countries remain polio-endemic today (Pakistan, Afganisthan, and Nigeria). But reports documented polio outbreaks last year in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Central Africa, leading the World Health Organization to declare in May 2014 that the spread of the virus constituted an “extraordinary event”. In terms of costs and funding as well, there seem to be some challenges. In a February 2014 report, UNICEF and WHO estimated the price tag for polio eradication for the period 2013-18 at $5.5 billion. At the time, available and confirmed contributions amounted to $1.8 billion, so that there was a funding gap of $3.7 billion.
Rotary Grants and Other Programs
TRF’s annual report provides great stories of impact in other areas of interventions apart from polio, but relatively limited details on how funds are allocated by thematic area. The information provided focuses on the allocation of funds for global grants in each of six areas of focus of TRF apart from polio. A total of $47.3 million was disbursed for global grants in 2013-14. As shown in the Figure below, disease prevention and treatment received the largest allocation (265 grants for a total value of $14.2 million), followed by water and sanitation (198 grants and $11.2 million), economic and community development (148 grants and $7.8 million), basic education and literacy (121 grants and $6.5 million), maternal and child health (69 grants and $5.1 million), and finally peace and conflict prevention/resolution (67 grants and $2.7 million, excluding allocations to Rotary peace centers in a handful of universities).
Information is also available in the TRF annual report on which regions benefit from the largest amount of funding all programs combined. Sub-Saharan Africa came first, with $104 million in funding provided, followed by South Asia ($56 million), East Asia and the Pacific ($24 million), North America ($19 million), the Middle East and North Africa as well as Europe (each $9 million), Central America and the Caribbean ($6 million), Latin America ($5 million), and finally Russia, Georgia, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (less than $1 million).
That’s it for the basics of how TRF program expenses are allocated. While a majority of funds allocated by TRF go to polio, quite a bit of this investment comes from matching funds provided by BMGF, so that a large share of the funds donated by Rotarians or earned by the foundation from its assets go to other priority areas. In the last post in this series, I will discuss the foundation’s performance.
by Quentin Wodon
In recent years, a broad consensus has emerged on the fact that investing in young children is one of the best investments countries can make. And yet while investments in early childhood development (ECD) should be a priority, many countries and communities still fall short.
Tomorrow, the World Bank will release two new publications to serve as resources for those aiming to invest in ECD, whether they are government agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) including service clubs, or private firms. Both publications can be downloaded electronically free of charge.
Essential Interventions and Policy Principles
The first publication, titled Stepping up Early Childhood Development: Investing in Young Children for High Returns, provides a simple framework for thinking about investments in ECD. It describes and reviews available evidence on 25 essential interventions that have been identified as essential for a child’s growth and development (see figure below).
These interventions can be delivered through five packages at different stages in a child’s life: (i) a family support package to be provided throughout the ECD period, (ii) a pregnancy package, (iii) a birth package (from birth to 6 months), (iv) a child health and development package, and (v) a preschool package. In addition to these essential interventions and integrated packages, in order to create well-performing ECD systems, the guide calls for countries to be mindful of four policy principles. Countries should (1) prepare a multi-sectoral ECD diagnostic and strategy; (2) implement widely through effective coordination mechanisms; (3) create synergies and cost savings among interventions; and finally (4) monitor, evaluate, and scale up successful interventions. To a large extent these common sense principles are also likely to apply to NGOs, service clubs, and private firms.
Lessons from Past Investments
The second publication, Investing in Early Childhood Development: Review of the World Bank’s Recent Experience, indicates that operational and analytical investments in ECD have increased sharply in recent years at the World Bank. The review considered activities implemented from June 2000 to July 2013 within the Bank’s Education, Health-Nutrition-Population, and Social Protection-Labor Global Practices. Over 13 years, the three Global Practices invested $3.6 billion in ECD in 2013 U.S. dollars (in nominal terms, the amount was $3.3 billion). All geographic regions invested substantially, but the Africa and Latin America and Caribbean regions led the way with the largest IBRD and IDA investments, respectively.
Between fiscal years 2001 and 2011, commitments remained relatively stable in real terms, but in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, they more than doubled, and the trend has continued in 2014. An increase has been observed for both operations and analytical and advisory work. This increase in investments in ECD was related in part to a number of recent policy statements made by the World Bank on the importance of ECD, among others for nutrition, education, and social protection.
For NGOs or organizations such as service clubs, some of the lessons learned from the investments matter probably more than the level of the investments. To gain an understanding of which investments worked well, or required improvements, seven operations were selected for a more detailed analysis. The review highlights six lessons from those case studies that are probably relevant not only for governments but also for NGOs, service clubs, and private firms: (1) Designing ECD projects, due to their complexity and the time lag between investments and impacts on children’s development, requires careful attention to results frameworks, monitoring and evaluation, and a clear definition of roles and responsibilities of all actors; (2) Commitment from all levels of government as well as local communities is crucial; (3) Parents are key stakeholders who should be included in project design and implementation; (4) Coordination across sectors and administrative levels is essential; (5) Projects should be designed to ensure that quality interventions are accessible and culturally relevant to all children, and especially those facing disadvantage; and finally (6) Knowledge exchange (e.g., south-south activities) can be valuable exercises to improve ECD systems. None of these findings are surprising, but the case studies suggest how good practice in these areas leads to better outcomes.
Finally the review mentions a number of new initiatives taken over the last few years, including (1) the ECD module of the Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) framework, which aims to provide a holistic multi-sectoral assessment of programs and policies that affect young children’s development; (2) the eLearning ECD module of the World Bank’s Education Staff Development Program, which brings together theory, practice, and shared experiences so that ECD policymakers and practitioners can engage in informed policy dialogue and decision making (this resource is also available free of charge; see this blog post series); and (3) the Early Learning Partnership (ELP) initiative, an innovative program initially focusing on the Africa region to promote scalable, sustainable, and impactful approaches for young children’s development and early learning. The ELP program is now becoming global and is being scaled up substantially thanks to support from the Children Investment Fund Foundation.
The evidence in the literature on the returns to investments in ECD is clear. Investing in ECD has high potential to help eliminate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. The demand from World Bank client countries for investments in ECD is rising, and the World Bank has scaled up its operational and analytical portfolio in this area. But this rising demand is also likely to be observed among communities, and NGOs and service clubs as well as private firms can play a key role in this area. The private sector can probably learn from the lessons learned over the last dozen years by the research and implementation communities, including multilateral donors such as the World Bank, on how to ensure the largest possible impact for investments in young children.
Note: This post is reproduced with minor changes from a post published today by the author on the World Bank’s education blog at http://blogs.worldbank.org/education/.