Despite the world’s progress in combating extreme poverty, 84% of the global population live on less than $30 per day, which is the approximate average poverty line in OECD countries. Further, the impending climate disaster disproportionately affects impoverished communities, limited access to quality healthcare and nutrition leads to lower life expectancy, and inadequate education constrains upward mobility.
Recent legislation is focused on scaling up evidence-based solutions (i.e. FIGDA: Fostering Innovation in Global Development Act), and a community of practice is growing around evidence based development and paying for outcomes. It’s time to capitalize on this unique policy window to create impact for those in need and drive change.
We are looking for your big ideas regarding U.S. development practices and programs, whether they come from years of research and experience in the international development field or whether you believe your own expertise in another sector may yield innovations applicable to international development.
We’re seeking ideas for innovations, and want to help you turn these ideas into actionable policies and programs that U.S. government development practitioners can easily take up and implement. Our team will equip you with tools, skills, background knowledge, and scaffolding to convert your technical expertise into a well-crafted, action-oriented policy or program recommendation. We will then help you to convey your idea directly to the development policy leaders who matter – in the White House, Congress, USAID, and across other relevant federal agencies.
Remember: Innovation comes in many forms. Perhaps you know of an existing project that is working in one country or socio-economic/geographic context and want to develop the project in a new context in order to bring it to scale. Perhaps you know of new techniques, technologies, or stakeholders who want to apply successes in other fields to international development problems. Perhaps you want to combine new and old approaches, or a set of technologies, for maximum impact.
The U.S. government’s development community has always relied on the ingenuity of outside technologists, innovators, researchers and doers. This ideas challenge aims to improve and advance the innovation pipeline within the U.S. government’s development agencies to generate more impactful outcomes, improving the lives of vulnerable populations worldwide.
What We’re Looking For
FAS is crowdsourcing actionable ideas in order to equip development policymakers to build a streamlined global development R&D pipeline. The only criterion is that the new ideas must seek to improve the lives of communities or individuals in need in Lower and Middle Income Countries (LMICs), as defined by the World Bank. Here are some examples to consider as you formulate your idea:
- Innovations where USAID, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Development Finance Corporation, Millenium Compact Corporation or another U.S. development agency could scale up through demand pull/market shaping:
- Five countries and the Gates Foundation pledged $1.5 billion to fund a pilot Advanced Market Commitment targeting a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). The AMC’s price cap ensured that the vaccine remained affordable, and estimates suggest that the development and distribution of PCV has saved approximately 700,000 lives since 2010.
- Cost-effective innovations that have demonstrated success in certain geographic regions that warrant consideration and investment in other parts of the world:
- It costs about $0.35 to deworm a child in India, and $0.66 in Kenya. Rigorous evidence has shown this small investment in deworming treatment produced an annualized 37% rate of return–and could be scaled in other settings with equivalent, long-lasting improvements.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has proven successful in crime and violence prevention. The blended therapy cash-transfer program resulted in more than 200 fewer crimes committed per participant, implying a cost of less than $2.50 per crime avoided. The program’s cost-effectiveness suggests that it could be replicated in a variety of settings, with local organizations adapting the curriculum to fit different cultural contexts.
- Ideas from other sectors that could be applied to international development problems in the developing world:
- There are new ways to advance food, health and energy security, and advancing access to education, water, and economic opportunities including by using new scientific research. For example, the recently launched Vision for Adapted Crops and Soil (VACS) relies on new ways to measure soil quality and health, as well as sophisticated R&D investments, while satellite data and machine learning are being used to identify the most vulnerable households in Togo to rapidly provide humanitarian assistance.
- Innovations to help systems-level change across LMICs:
- These could be technologies, process innovations, or new business models. What’s the new PEPFAR idea for education in conflict zones? How can water security be addressed urgently and rapidly in the Middle East and North Africa? Some of these problems require new ways of thinking given how quickly the countries and sectors in question are changing.
- Innovations that warrant considerably more attention by policymakers based on their potential to create and deliver dramatically improved livelihoods:
- What do the GiveDirectly movement and other programs emphasizing direct investments to individuals struggling with poverty, lack of housing, and lack of livelihoods teach us that could be applied usefully to traditional development programs? How would advanced technologies, advanced R&D, and other programs help us to leap-frog over existing technical assistance programs, in order to train local farmers and others?
How it Works
- You submit an idea below that matches one or more of the relevant prompts (listed under “What We’re Looking For”). Submissions should be no more than 350 words and should include a clear plan of action, including recommendations for specific development actors in the U.S. government.
- A panel of senior development experts will select the most compelling submissions. Those with winning ideas will work with our team of experts in order to deliver them at a workshop in Fall 2024 and to communicate these ideas shortly after.
Ultimately, FAS and partners will synthesize recommendations with contributors and collaboratively provide inputs to the policy leaders working with and within the White House, Congress, and relevant federal agencies on ways to scale up market-shaping mechanisms. FAS plans to hold this submission process on a yearly basis; if your ideas are not selected this year, please keep in touch with us!
Your idea for scaling impactful innovations for global development
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