A letter from our CEO

Dear R4D community:

It’s shocking to think about how much has changed in the last few weeks and how rapidly the situation continues to evolve.

At Results for Development (R4D), we’ve developed a set of principles for managing through COVID-19. These principles start first with the safety and well-being of our staff, and they emphasize how our mission — to support change agents who are building stronger systems for health, education and nutrition — is more important than ever. So, we are “leaning in.” We are committed to doing all that we can to support our partners in countries around the world to manage this pandemic and to prepare to rebuild afterward.

We recognize this pandemic is exposing pre-existing vulnerabilities in country health, education and food systems. All countries are facing serious challenges, but lower-resource countries are likely to experience even more devastating effects of COVID-19. They will need to approach the pandemic differently than higher-income countries, focusing on managing the many risks that will occur in tandem with widespread illness and economic disruption. This crisis underscores the importance of building and maintaining strong and resilient systems that can weather this kind of shock. As we consider how we can help, we are focusing on how we can leverage the immediate response to build the foundation for stronger future systems.

We are also deeply aware that now, more than ever, is the time to listen to the needs of local leaders before acting. The last thing any of us wants to do is to get in the way of local response by burdening already fragile systems with non-critical work. We — international NGOs and donors alike — must remain flexible and responsive in how our energy is deployed and avoid overwhelming already overloaded country-level leaders.

With these considerations in mind, here are a few of the ways R4D is supporting the COVID-19 response in the first few weeks:

Acting as evidence and innovation brokers

  • R4D is leading the second phase of work for DFID’s Frontier Technologies program, which identifies technological innovations to accelerate progress toward the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and then tests their application and shares learnings. We are now considering how this program can address the COVID-19 pandemic, given the potential for new prevention, treatment, diagnosis and data management technologies. On March 16, 2020, the Frontier Technologies Hub issued an open call for low-cost ventilator models that could be rapidly manufactured to support countries tackling COVID-19 around the world. More than 50 applications were received in just one week (generating a lot of learning along the way), and the Hub Partners are now working to take the most promising technologies forward.
  • The global EdTech Hub, which R4D co-leads with a number of other institutions, is focused on getting relevant evidence and practical solutions to ministry of education leaders who are grappling with school closures due to COVID-19 and the need to rapidly move to individualized and remote learning models. We will do this by documenting and making sense of who’s doing what and what’s working; curating and sharing guidance on which strategies are best to deploy in a given context; and providing hands-on support to implement solutions that include education technology.
  • Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) has launched the COVID-19 Innovation Hub, which features innovations, funding, and resources relevant for a country’s COVID-19 response and recovery around the world. The innovations listed on this new platform are grouped under 12 categories, including innovations ready to deploy and innovations that could be adapted for COVID-19 or inspire new much-needed solutions. As the list of innovations continues to grow (with nearly 500 so far), GIE also invites partners to work with us on co-creating cheat sheets that curate the most promising innovations for specific categories, sectors or geographies. R4D manages the COVID-19 Innovation Hub — and the umbrella GIE platform it draws from — which is supported by USAID, DFAT and KOICA.

Supporting translation and contextualization of evidence and knowledge in specific countries:

  • R4D leads the Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator, which was asked by the government of Ghana to support the Office of the Presidential Coordinator on COVID-19 to develop its critical infrastructure to manage the pandemic across all relevant sectors. We’ve been supporting with tasks such as developing the office’s organogram and staffing structure, identifying experts to advise the government on crucial topics, and facilitating an advisory group tasked with monitoring the socioeconomic impact of the outbreak. Our global team has also been quickly identifying experts, evidence and ideas from around the world, while our team on the ground in Accra is contextualizing that information and getting it into practice in ways that are relevant to Ghana. The Accelerator is a global health systems strengthening initiative, co-funded by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that works with key actors from across sectors to identify the root causes of thorny systemic issues and then support local partners as they lead implementation and find their own pathways to meaningful and lasting health systems change. Due to its flexible nature and pre-existing platforms and infrastructure, the Accelerator can pivot quickly to provide COVID-19 support in a range of areas. Health officials who are interested in learning more should reach out to their local USAID missions.

Facilitating cross-country sharing and learning

  • We are considering how to use existing learning networks that we manage or engage in, such as the Learning Network for Countries in Transition (which focuses on immunization), the Primary Health Care Performance Initiative Community of Practice, and the Joint Learning Network for Universal Coverage for targeted cross-border problem-solving and information sharing that is highly relevant to COVID-19 response.
  • Whenever we are called on to support a particular country (e.g., Ghana), we will generate and document lessons to share with other countries through these networks.
  • We are discussing with key partners the need to launch a new global learning network focused explicitly on an immediate COVID-19 response, which will also support countries to develop the infrastructure required to prevent future epidemics.

We look forward to working in partnership with many of you in the coming weeks and months, as we collectively take on the world’s most daunting challenge in the past generation — and we welcome your feedback and ideas as we move forward.

Take care of yourself and one another.

Best regards,
Gina Lagomarsino
President & CEO
Results for Development

Comments 2 Responses

  1. Al-Hassana Idriss Outman April 15, 2020 @ 2:05 pm

    This is an excellent letter full of advices and lessons. Thanks, Gina Lagomarsino.

  2. Abella Owuor April 10, 2020 @ 3:57 am

    Thanks Gina. Indeed this pandemic has brought a lot of changes in regard to the health gains our country Kenya has had so far. Mostly, the socioeconomic status of the community in our country is so low that when we are hard hit, majority may die out of hunger and not the disease. The trends are waning and we are hopeful that education and proper awareness coupled with support will make is cope while maintaining the health standards.As far as nurturing care is concerned, our children are worst hit and immunization, ANC services may be tampered with during to the anxiety this has caused. Thanks for your support and concern in this regard.


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