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New focus, new look for Results for Development

Welcome to the new R4D website! We are excited to share our new look, but we’re also delighted to share our refined organizational mission and focus, which is reflected throughout the new site.

At the heart of our new strategy is an ardent belief that prosperity begins with health and education. People cannot thrive and contribute fully to society when they’re sick or hungry or poorly educated. Strong self-sustaining systems are the key to achieving lasting and large-scale results in health, nutrition and education for everyone.

Working on systems is trendy in global development. But what does it mean in practice?

The global development community is buzzing about “systems” right now, and everyone has their own definition. Here at R4D, we think of a system as the people, inputs, institutions, policies and processes and how they interact to deliver key results, such as moms and babies who are well-nourished, children who are learning and thriving, and high-quality, affordable health care for all.

We believe that strong, well-functioning systems deliver results for everyone across a population, especially the most vulnerable. And instead of addressing one issue, they provide myriad benefits. A strong health system ensures that all kids are immunized, but it doesn’t stop there. It takes care of all of its people’s health needs over the course of their lives in an integrated and coordinated way. A strong education system not only ensures that school-age children are in school, but that they are learning the hard and soft skills required to be successful in work and life.

Strong systems engage in continuous improvement, introducing and scaling innovations to improve quality and access, and constantly measuring results and seeking feedback from citizens. Strong systems are self-sustaining — they don’t require ongoing long-term support from outsiders. And they’re able to weather shocks such as disease outbreaks, conflicts and natural disasters.

Systems change is desirable for many reasons, but it’s also complex. It involves well-considered design and lots of attention to implementation. It’s hard to measure, and it’s not a quick process. But we believe that an investment in strong systems is an investment in sustainable development. It’s why we’ve chosen this mission.

But we also know that external parties can’t lead systems change.

Gina Lagomarsino, president and CEO of R4D, meets with staff members of the national government’s procurement agency, Procurement Fund and Supply Agency (PFSA), at the Addis Ababa PFSA medicines warehouse in Ethiopia. R4D-administered amoxicillin dispersible tablets (amox DT) are distributed through PFSA’s distribution network to be used in public health facilities to treat pneumonia, newborn sepsis, severe acute malnutrition and local bacterial illnesses in children.

Gina Lagomarsino, president and CEO of R4D, meets with staff from Ethiopia’s Procurement Fund and Supply Agency at the medicines warehouse in Addis Ababa. R4D is working with the government of Ethiopia to increase access to high-quality pneumonia treatment.

Listening to the needs of local change agents

Motivated local change agents — government officials, civil society leaders and social innovators — are the people who are already driving and must continue to drive reform in their own countries.  And supporting local change agents starts with listening. Over the years, we have engaged in deep conversations with our partners in many countries who are working to reform health and education systems to learn what they need most.

Our partners often know what they need to do, but they need help figuring out how to implement reforms. They need a source of external ideas and evidence to push their thinking. But they also want to better understand their own context — through the use of data, assessments of current capacity and the stakeholder landscape, including the perspectives of people who will benefit from the system. Successful reformers need to find ways to stay personally motivated through challenging situations. A network of peers, thought partners and supportive coaches can be invaluable.

We are committed to building those networks, offering our expertise and knowledge, and learning as much as we can about the “how” alongside change agents. And when we support specific countries or local organizations, we aim to synthesize and broadly share knowledge gleaned from these activities so that others can get results for development, too.

Embarking on a new journey

We’re excited to embark on the next phase of our journey, but we also approach our mission with deep humility.

We are asking questions such as: How can we “build true capacity” in countries without creating parallel infrastructures and contributing to brain-drain? How can we best support the development of strong and lasting government, civil society and private sector institutions that are capable of continuous improvement over time? How can we ensure that an innovator or reformer can get connected to the most appropriate and effective advice and support for her most pressing challenge? How can we ensure that the most effective innovations are scaled within systems? And how can we better measure progress toward stronger systems so that we can learn what works and what doesn’t?

As we work to continuously improve our approaches to achieving results, we have challenged ourselves to address these important questions, in collaboration with other creative and thoughtful partners. We are excited to work with others who are thinking about these challenges. We invite your comments and ideas below for how to support change agents around the globe to create self-sustaining systems for healthy, educated people.

Photo © Results for Development/Lane Goodman

Comments 6 Responses

  1. Benson Ochido Oswago August 31, 2017 @ 3:55 am

    Thank you very much for sharing with us this approach. We are looking forward to collaborating with you. Please keep up and kindly give me more information on possible collabaration to assist a school in our rea of operation

  2. Taiwo Oresanya August 12, 2017 @ 10:40 am

    Thank you for sharing this with me. I live in Nigeria. My take on how best to support change agents in creating self-sustaining systems for, healthy educated people are:
    *Access to quality and innovative education for children between ages 6-16 through ICT based learning tools in the schools. This should also not be put in the care of governments staffs or politicians as it will be manipulated by the politicians and abused by the government worker.
    *On Healthcare, support should be given to the local medical cum maternity centre’s to reducing deaths of children of ages 4-10 years through untreated malaria, malnutrition, infections through poor hygiene, most especially through food poisoning. These also should not be handled by the state governments.
    *Support should be given to locals to drive change.

  3. Newton August 10, 2017 @ 1:54 pm

    We are asking questions such as:………………..?
    Dear R&D, Congratulations for creating new focus and new look… Questions asked above is applicable to one and all. It is indeed good and honest initiative. No single answer can provide answer to the question above. Let us keep questioning our selves. Collaboration in process of thinking, exchanging views/learning and desire to innovate and scale irrespective of who gets credits/rewards may help us find solution to the question above. Wishes.

  4. Saa E.Fillie August 9, 2017 @ 2:52 pm

    How will R4D help to see that ICT Education is deployed in all Primary and Secondary Schools Learning System of Sierra Leone as of 2018-2030 through Wangoh One Laptop Per Child Project

    1. Kelly Toves October 3, 2017 @ 3:25 pm

      Thank you for your feedback! I encourage you to check out the Early Learning Toolkit on the Center for Education Innovations, a network of country-based organizations that R4D manages. I’ve copied the url below for your convenience.

      The section on targeted instruction, in particular, details how technology can be used to tailor instruction to individual students, within the context of a “blended learning” environment, where teachers are trained in how to effectively integrate technology into their classrooms.


      I hope you find this information helpful.

      Kelly Toves
      Editor, R4D Insights

  5. Andre Medici August 9, 2017 @ 9:23 am

    Nice ideas Gina.
    What are current R4D engagement in HNP projects or analytical work in South Asia Countries? Do you have some material about that?


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