Meet RESULTS, “one of the best-kept secrets in development”

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>>Authored by Sabina Rogers, Communications and Relationships Manager, Microcredit Summit Campaign

In a 2013 article, New York Times opinion writer, David Bornstein, wrote that RESULTS “remains one of the best-kept secrets in development.” RESULTS (and RESULTS Educational Fund, from which the Microcredit Summit came and into which the Microcredit Summit Campaign operations have been merged) is a grassroots advocacy organization founded in 1980. It has international affiliates in the UK, Canada, Australia, France (and Belgium), Japan, Korea, and Mexico; and the RESULTS family coordinates advocacy efforts to remarkable effect.

Never heard of RESULTS? Recall the poverty measurement legislation in the mid 2000s that requires USAID to direct at least 50 percent of their microenterprise funds to those living on less than $1 a day? Legislation that also prompted the creation of USAID’s Poverty Assessment Tool? That was RESULTS and allies.

The U.N. International Year of Microcredit in 2005 and the Nobel Peace Prize for Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank? That was RESULTS volunteers and the Microcredit Summit Campaign lobbying year after year for consideration. (FYI: The Year of Microcredit was established by the UN in 1998, the year after the 1997 Microcredit Summit, through the efforts of the Bangladesh Ambassador to the U.N., in recognition of the Summit’s 2005 deadline.)

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#tbt: Digital services to reach the unreachable at the 2013 Summit

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Highlighting technology innovations in the microfinance sector, the plenary session “Reaching Deeper and Lowering Costs: The Path ahead for Digital Services” at the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit was moderated by our very own Sabina Rogers, filling in for Karen Dávila, noted Philippine broadcast journalist.

It was a fun session, using visual aids to represent certain aspects of a value chain for delivering mobile and financial services. A house represented the client and the start of the digital transaction value chain; then images showed the mobile interface for conducting transactions; a sari-sari represented an agent kiosk; a net represented both communications networks as well as financial networks; and a bank stood in for a variety of types of financial institutions.

Speakers were asked to make use of the array to help them illustrate where the companies and organizations the represented fit into the value chain.

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Swedes, chimps, and you and me on sustainable development

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>>Authored by Sabina Rogers

Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum (WEF), Hans Rosling opened his presentation, “Sustainable Development: Demystifying the Facts,” with three questions for the audience about the state of global development (about extreme poverty, measles vaccination, and population in 2100). He was testing their knowledge in order to illustrate how preconceived ideas will do us wrong.

He had done this test before. Rosling conducted studies with Swedes, Americans, and chimps about the state of global development. The chimps were asked to choose a banana that is associated with 1 of 3 possible answers, and they got the answer correct 33 percent of the time. In essence, they were bound to be right 1 time in 3; the humans were not as lucky. Basically, according to his study, chimps in a zoo have a better chance of choosing the right answers at random to questions about the state of the world than the average Swede and American does.

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Insufficient and greatly uneven progress on the maternal health MDG

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>>Authored by Marion Cosquer and Sabina Rogers

MDG 5: Improve maternal health

Target 5.A: Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio

In 1990, 380 pregnant women were dying for every 100,000 live births. As of 2013, the global maternal mortality ratio has decreased by 45 percent to 210 women per 100,000 live births. The highest gains were seen in South and Southeast Asia with a 64 percent and 57 percent reduction, respectively. Developing regions overall achieved a 46 percent reduction. Maternal survival has been aided by a one-third increase in childbirth attendance by skilled health personnel. Thus, the news in the U.N. Millennium Development Goals Report for MDG 5 is promising.

Nonetheless, progress towards improving maternal health so far falls far short of the targets set under MDG 5 and has lagged far behind the other MDGs. Additionally, global figures tend to mask regional inequalities. For example, there were 510 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in sub-Saharan Africa compared to 190 in South Asia and 140 in Southeast Asia.

Progress in raising the proportion of births delivered with skilled personnel has been modest over the last 15 years, reflecting the lack of universal access to care. Indeed, one in four babies still being delivered without skilled personnel and wide disparities are found among regions. For example, there is a 52 percent spread between the largest rural/urban disparity across regions:

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Post MDG-4: Integrating health services to reduce child mortality

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The United Nations recently issued The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015, the latest assessment of progress towards the eight MDGs. In short, they have had mixed results. This article is part of a blog series reflecting on the MDGs and the U.N. report. These are produced in partnership with our colleagues at RESULTS.


>>Authored by Carley Tucker and Sabina Rogers

MDG 4: Reduce child mortality

Target 4.A: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate

The numbers appear heartening. According to the latest assessment on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), deaths of infants and children under five have greatly reduced. The under-five mortality rate has declined by more than half, from 90 to 43 deaths per 1000 births. Moreover, the annual rate of reduction in child deaths has more than doubled since 1990, and the rate has accelerated the most in Africa.

We learn that 4 out of every 5 of children have received at least one dose of the measles vaccine, preventing 15.6 million deaths between 2000 and 2013. In all, some 48 million children under five are alive today because of smart investments and increasing access to cost-effective health programs over the last 15 years.

This is good news for children around the world; however, underlying these advances is news that the achievements are not equitably distributed regionally, between rural and urban areas, nor socioeconomically.

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Post-MDG 1: Focusing the lens on those still in extreme poverty

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The United Nations recently issued The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015, the latest assessment of progress towards the eight MDGs. In short, they have had mixed results. This article is part of a blog series reflecting on the MDGs and the U.N. report. These are produced in partnership with our colleagues at RESULTS (our parent organization).

The overall number of people living in poverty in developing countries fell by more than half since 1990. The rate dropped to 14 percent in 2015 and the absolute number to 836 million people. There has also been significant progress made towards curbing hunger worldwide.

Looking at the regional distribution of data, poverty reduction was concentrated in eastern and southern Asia thanks to immense poverty reduction measures in China and India. Progress is less apparent in other regions. In sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent of the population still live in extreme poverty, and in western Asia, extreme poverty is actually expected to increase between 2011 and 2015.

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A deep dive into the Millennium Development Goals Report

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The United Nation’s (U.N.) Inter-Agency and Expert Group on MDG Indicators recently issued the latest assessment of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in a 75-page report. The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015 is a rich document presenting data on each of the eight goals. In short, the MDGs have had mixed results, and the headline of one billion people lifted out of extreme poverty (living on less than US $1 a day) is almost entirely a result of the massive gains in China and India.

In the coming weeks, we will be publishing articles reflecting on each MDG and the assessment as presented in the 2015 MDG report. Here is what is published so far:
Post-MDG 1: Focusing the lens on those still in extreme poverty

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Financing healthcare in new middle income countries: Lessons from Kenya

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Release of "Who Pays for Progress?"
>>Authored by Theo Fievet, State of the Campaign Report Intern

A step to climb

Despite economic growth over the last decade, healthcare outcomes in Kenya remain weak. Rates of maternal mortality and stunting among children have barely changed…

— World Bank, Financial Report (Kenya), June 2014

Is a vibrant, fast-growing economy enough to improve the performance of the public health sector? A case study in Kenya published recently by RESULTS UK and partners KANCO and WACI shows that the correlation between economic growth and public health is not simple, nor automatic. Even though Kenya’s growth in recent years averaged 6 percent per annum, 25 percent of the population still lacks quality healthcare.

Read this new report, Who Pays for Progress? today!

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Getting the ultra-poor on the “economy train”

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More than one-fifth of the world’s population lives on less than US$1.25 per day (the “extreme poor”), and most of those people live in rural areas. Due mostly to geographic constraints, it is difficult and costly to reach this population with financial and social services. Having poor infrastructure and few tools, they are stuck in a perpetual cycle of poverty.

This is a problem just begging for a solution. How about six financial inclusion strategies — our “six pathways” — that show promise in ending extreme poverty? Specifically, how about BRAC’s Graduation Approach? In 2002, BRAC set out to help the ultra-poor living on less than 80 cents a day to move up one level of poverty and to develop an approach that could tackle the geography obstacle.

In June, Science magazine published the results of six randomized controlled trial (RCT) impact assessments of BRAC’s Graduation Approach. Read our recap of the “Creating Sustainable Livelihoods for the Poorest” event hosted by CGAP, IPA, and J-PAL.

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The Nepal microfinance sector’s earthquake response

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In a country with poverty that is already among the highest in the world, the devastating earthquake in Nepal this April caused more destruction and destitution than could have been imagined. The Nepal earthquake, estimated to have been a magnitude of 7.8 to 8.1, caused more than 8,800 deaths and 23,000 injuries. According to Nepali government officials, it will cost over $6.6 billion and at least five years to rebuild the country. More than one million people may be stranded in extreme hardship for quite a long time.

Local microfinance institutions have been working hard to triage their clients’ needs and thinking longer-term about the best response to this disaster. We have been in communication with Jyoti Chandra Ojha, CEO of the Rural Microfinance Development Centre Ltd. (RMDC), which is a wholesale lending organization in Nepal. Ojha has provided us with the information below concerning the Nepal microfinance sector’s response to the disaster. See how you can help RMDC and their MFI members
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Measuring client health outcomes using simple indicators

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A local community health volunteer trained and supervised by Bandhan, an Indian MFI, meets with members of a local self-help group and their families. (Photo courtesy of Johnson & Johnson)
>>Authored by Sabina Rogers, Communications and Relationships Manager

More than two years ago, we set out with Freedom from Hunger to develop and test a standardized set of health indicators as part of a Campaign Commitment we co-launched in 2013. This has culminated with the release of Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: How Microfinance Institutions Can Track the Health of Clients. The report describes our experience in selecting and pilot-testing a set of indicators. It will help you choose the right indicators for monitoring client health outcomes over time. And finally, the report summarizes key recommendations for developing “standardized” client outcome monitoring indicators.

We hope financial services providers and others will use our “health outcome performance indicators” (HOPI) to assess the health and well-being of clients and their families. We believe that wide usage of the HOPI would create short- and long-term value for practitioners (both health and financial services), social investors and donors, raters, and other actors. “Health” is a basic need that crosses all borders and all demographics, making the HOPI compelling measures for understanding client outcomes for financial service providers.

Read this new report to choose the right health indicators for your institution

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Engaging men and boys for gender equality

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Adolescent girls in a BRAC Tanzania program. Photo credit: BRAC Tanzaniz
If we are to achieve the World Bank’s goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 — or even our own goal of helping 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty — we have to tackle the issue of gender inequality. The recent review of microcredit RCTs shows, on average, a surprising lack of positive effect on women’s empowerment.

Though, there are some promising findings. For example, it seems that the effects of microcredit diffuse across multiple outcome, so it’s hard to detect what the actual effect is on women’s empowerment. Also, the study in Mexico found some small but significant increase in female decision power.

So, what makes a successful women’s empowerment program?

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Accessible and affordable microinsurance with Afua Donkor

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#ThrowbackThursday comes from the 2014 Report EspañolFrançais Continue reading

Partnership building to reduce the Philippines’ maternal mortality rate

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>>Authored by Camille Rivera, Senior Program Associate, and Sabina Rogers, Communications & Relationships Manager

With the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit in the Philippines, we wrote a new chapter in the evolution of the Microcredit Summit Campaign. The 16th Microcredit Summit focused on how public-private partnerships could combine expertise from the field of microfinance with other areas to develop more efficient and sustainable services for the extreme poor.

We have since created one such collaboration in order to address the problem of stubbornly high maternal mortality rates in the Philippines. While the country has experienced strong economic growth in recent years and the government has instituted a national hospital insurance scheme, PhilHealth, maternal mortality is at 221 per 100,000 live births. The Philippines are far off track of their maternal mortality MDG of 52 deaths per 100,000 live births.

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