Report on the Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Scaling Up Community of Practice

The Executive Committee (ExCom) of the Scaling Up CoP met on 14 July 2020. Key actions agreed and decisions taken were as follows:

  • The ExCom welcomed new members George Zedginidze (Green Climate Fund) and Clea Finkle (Gates Foundation).
  • It approved the creation of a new Working Group on Climate Change to be chaired by George Zedgnidze and received reports of the chairs of the other Working Groups.
  • It agreed to establish a quarterly virtual process for discussion of cross-cutting issues to begin after the Annual Workshop.
  • It reviewed the CoP budget and identified the following priority uses of funds: support for the annual meeting, additional administrative support including support to Working Groups, and additional support for website update and maintenance.
  • It agreed that the CoP Annual Meeting in October 2020 will be held as a virtual event (see below).

Plans for a Virtual CoP Annual Meeting 2020

It is expected that this year’s event will be spread out over 2 or 2½ weeks in late October and early November. As in the past, all events will be free of charge. We expect to have (i) three events open to anyone who registers; (ii) Working Group meetings reserved for members of the CoP; and (iii) one executive session by invitation for an “expanded ExCom” to discuss issues related to the future of the CoP.

Dates, agendas and speakers and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Working Groups of the Scaling Up Community of Practice

The following comments summarize activities of the CoP’s nine working groups (WGs). These are listed below with the names and e-mail addresses of the chairperson(s). For more information on the agenda of each working group and on how to join and contribute to a working group, please contact the respective chairperson(s) or reach out to Larry ( or Johannes ( We have included a more detailed report of the Agriculture and Rural Development Group, since it has been particularly active in recent months.

Working Group topicWorking Group coordinatorsCurrent status of the Working Group
Scaling Up in EducationNitika Tolani (MSI)

Jenny Perlman Robinson (Brookings)
In the coming weeks, the Co-Chairs of the Education WG will send out a survey to WG members on engagement strategies, building off its virtual meet-up earlier this year on scaling best practices in distance learning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Feedback on the frequency and format of WG engagement (e.g., quarterly webinars) and potential topics (e.g., costs of scaling interventions, institutionalizing initiatives that originate outside of government, strengthening adaptive learning/capacity, crowdsourcing existing resources relevant to these topics, etc.) will be solicited. If you have any ideas you’re excited to share now, please do be in touch with Nitika or Jenny.
Scaling Up in Fragile StatesJonathan Papoulidis (WorldVision)

Robert S Chase (World Bank)
The working group is delighted to announce our new co-chair, Dr. Robert S. Chase, who leads the World Bank's work on social protection, resilience and jobs in East Africa. Rob brings a wealth of expertise and field experience to the working group and will contribute to our efforts to promote approaches to scaling up that are more resilient, adaptive and sustainable in the face of fragility. The group warmly thanks Larry Cooley for co-founding and steering our efforts and who will remain an active member. The working group’s scope of work involves: (a) applying scaling up approaches to bridge humanitarian and development interventions; (b) elaborating on the obstacles to scaling in fragile states and how they have been overcome, or when scaling should not have been attempted; (c) promoting adaptive, resilient and politically-smart methods for scaling; and (d) examining ways to strengthen country institutions and mobilize private sector finance for sustainable scaling in a range of fragile contexts. The group’s next meeting will take place in September/October, to introduce new members, identify prospective speakers and topics, and to provide feedback on a draft paper on adaptive scaling that Larry and Jonathan are working on.
Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD)Frank Place (IFPRI)

Lennart Woltering (CIMMYT)

Mark Huisinga (USAID)
The Scaling Up Agriculture and Rural Development Working Group explored African experiences in response to COVID-19: The CoP’s ARD WG hosted a webinar on May 20th, 2020, to discuss learnings and leverage opportunities for advancing the scaling agenda in the context of the COVID 19 pandemic in Africa. The guest speakers were Ndidi Nwuneli (managing partner of Sahel Consulting, co-founder of AACE Foods, and founder of LEAP Africa) and Edward Mabaya (Division Manager of Agribusiness Development at the African Development Bank). A video recording of the event is available here.

CGIAR Data Driven Agronomy CoP and ARD WG CoP are collaborating with four joint webinar sessions on scaling: The CoP on Data Driven Agronomy under the Big Data Platform reached out to the ARD WG to co-design a series of four webinars around scaling. The first webinar, on “Meaningful scaling: the what and why of scaling” was held on June 23, 2020 with Diana Giraldo, researcher at the Alliance of Biodiversity International and CIAT and the University of Reading, and Lennart Woltering, Scaling Catalyst at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). It can be viewed at: second webinar will be on the “Science of Scaling” with Marc Schut (IITA/Wageningen University) and Hayley Price-Kelly (IDRC) on the 25th of August; and those interested in participating can register here. The third webinar will be on the “Art of Scaling” and the fourth and final webinar will be on the “Practice of Scaling”.

The Scaling-Up ARD WG survey results: The ARD WG has a variety of activities in addition to hosting regular webinars to share information. For example, its members helped to organize the 2018 Purdue University and African Development Bank Scale-Up Conference, developed the Scale Up Sourcebook, and organized scaling discussion events at the World Food Prize in 2018 and the African Green Revolution Forum in 2019. Currently, the ARD WG is defining how best to build on momentum and advance a “next-generation” scaling agenda for the WG. To do so, ARD co-chairs circulated a survey questionnaire to ARD WG members with six main questions on opportunities and challenges around scaling as well as some questions to allow them to map members’ interests and expertise. Currently, the ARD WG has 120 members from 65 organizations: donors (28%), CGIAR (27%), NGO (19%) private sector (14%) and university & research (12%). The survey respondents observed that the top three key issues holding back progress on scaling are (i) lack of intermediary organizations for delivery at scale, (ii) monitoring and evaluation of the scaling process, including having the right indicators to monitor systemic, sustained change, and (iii) adequate financing of the scaling intervention. The survey also suggested that the ARD focus additional attention on topics such as systems approaches, digitalization of activities, shift in consumer preferences towards environmental and sustainable and healthy diets, strengthening value chains, multi stakeholder coordination, and inclusive leadership. Click here to see all the results of the survey.
Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) for Scaling UpLarry Cooley (MSI)

John Floretta (J-PAL)
On May 5th, more than 70 members of the M&E Working Group participated in the group’s quarterly meeting. The session was a continuation of the group’s focus on the use of M&E to go beyond proof of efficacy and focused on two topics – the effective use of case studies and comparative case studies to guide the theory and practice of scaling and assessing the “general equilibrium” effects of scale. Jim Ricca of Johns Hopkins University anchored the first of these topics based on experience from a series of case studies conducted under the auspices of the recently-concluded Maternal and Child Survival Project; with Jenny Perlman Robinson (Brookings, Center for Universal Education) serving as respondent based on experience from the Millions Learning effort. The second topic was anchored by Austin Davis based on Y-RISE’s body of work on the nature and scope of system-wide effects that do not manifest until changes reach large populations. The M&E Working Group will schedule its next meeting in September.
Health (aka Community of Practice on Systematic Approaches to Scale-up on Family Planning/Reproductive Health Best Practices)Laura J. Ghiron (ExpandNet and Evidence to Action Project)
Over the last four months, the Health WG organized two quarterly meetings online: The March 24th meeting featured presentations by senior leaders in the area of mobilizing funding for scale up. Speakers were Dr. Nirmala Ravishankar of ThinkWell who leads a global project to improve financing for primary healthcare services; Kojo Lokko who is the Executive Director of The Challenge Initiative, led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Clive Mutunga, who is Senior Technical Advisor in Population, Environment and Development at the Office of Population and Reproductive Health, Bureau for Global Health at USAID. A recording of the session is available at this link. The June 30th meeting focused on advancing systematic scale up in the age of COVID where three speakers shared how they are working in Nigeria and Uganda to continue building scale up momentum for critical initiatives. The first presenter, Dr. Sada Danmusa, shared how his Nigerian NGO is working with members of state ministries of health in Nigeria to maintain focus on other essential health services beyond the COVID response. The second and third presenters –Deogratias Yiga of the Impact and innovations Development Centre in Uganda and Dr. Rebecka Lundgren of the University of California San Diego –
are collaborating to scale up the REAL Fathers young father mentoring program with the Ugandan Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. All the speakers shared how they are adapting scale up plans and how they are using digital communication platforms to advance scale-up work and engage with key partners and stakeholders in new and creative ways as a result of the COVID crisis. To listen to the meeting, visit this link.
Social Enterprise InnovationIsabel Guerrero (IMAGO)

Elain Tinsley (World Bank)
The Social Enterprise (SE) Scale Up Working Group is planning a LinkedIn Group to provide an online space for members to easily share insights and experiences, links to our work, and initiate new discussions. The LinkedIn group will also give more visibility to the WG and help us to connect better with each other. In addition, the SE Scale UP WG will be resuming its webinar series in August to share and learn from SE case studies and innovative practices to stimulate the SE ecosystem.
Youth EmploymentElizabeth Vance (International Youth Foundation)

Alice Gugelev (Global Development Incubator)
The YEWG met in May to hear about Generation’s experience with a rapid shift to distance learning. In August, it will meet to hear from Robert Chase at the World Bank, Katherine Kelly at Generation, Abigail Spangler at ACDI/VOCA and Lisa Corsetto at J-PAL about impact of the pandemic on young peoples’ economic outcomes. The panelists will cover: What are the important questions we are asking to understand the impact of the pandemic on youth people’s economic outcomes? What methods are we using to answer those questions? What are the salient initial findings?

In addition, a smaller group, including Generation, Cambridge Education, USAID and IYF plans to meet later this month about leveraging social media platforms to implement best practices in e-learning, given that young people are already there in great numbers and know how to use the platform. This sub-group is anxious to incorporate additional members in its discussions about leveraging social media for distance learning. Interested people can indicate their availability to talk in the coming weeks using this link.
Nutrition Working GroupChytanya Kompala (Eleanor Crook Foundation)
The Nutrition Scaling Working Group (NSWG) looks forward to its upcoming webinar on August 12th, 2020 at 9am ET. During this webinar, experts Dr. Klaus Kramer from Sight and Life and Dr. Mandana Arabi from Nutrition International will present on the need and opportunities to accelerate scaling nutrition programs during emergencies like COVID-19. Additionally, this working group has wrapped up a Devex series on Scaling Nutrition with support from the Eleanor Crook Foundation. This series of articles, videos, and webinars present some of the complexities and tensions of the scaling process within the nutrition community including an article on Strategies for Scaling Success developed with direct input from various working group members. The Nutrition WG has also been working on its main 2020 deliverable – a retrospective review to understand which nutrition programs have achieved scale and what factors led to their scaling success over the past 20 years. The group aims to finalize and disseminate this paper by September 2020.
Climate ChangeGeorge Zedginize (GCF) gzedginidze@gcfund.orgThe Climate Change Working Group held its inaugural meeting on 25 June 2020. Participants joined from the Adaptation Fund, Brookings, GCF and GCF EIU, GEF, MSI, World Bank, and WRI. The meeting reviewed the WG’s draft terms of reference and discussed the format and potential agenda items for WG virtual meetings in 2020 (tentatively scheduled for September 16 and December 3). Future meetings will be open to all participants with an interest in scaling up the impact of climate change interventions. To join the Working Group, please contact George Zedgindze ( or Andrew Hollander (

Member News (in alphabetical order)

CARE (Youth)

Challenging norms around masculinity in the Balkans. CARE’s Young Men’s Initiative (YMI) has worked with local partner NGOs across the Balkans since 2007. Adapting and pilot testing a curriculum originally developed by Promundo in Latin America, YMI has expanded the methodology to more schools, and to reach target groups outside of schools, extend its geographic coverage, and promote adoption of the program by Government at national levels. An increased focus of the program’s strategy to scale up its normshifting interventions has been through the “Be a Man Campaign”, aiming to change popular conceptions of what constitutes ‘manhood’. This includes an interactive website, documentary theatre, flash mobs, and production of songs, documentaries, and drama. The program also demonstrates the importance of combining multiple pathways and tactics to achieve impact at scale (scaling models, advocacy, social norms change, and systems strengthening).

Contact: Besnik Leka (

Lifting up women’s voices to shape COVID-19 response. Struck by the paltry numbers of humanitarian responses that used any information about gender equality or sex disaggregated data to influence decisions, CARE in 2013 started creating a new way to incorporate gender into its work in emergencies. The Rapid Gender Analysis (RGAs) moved from inception to industrystandard within five years, and by 2019 had been used in more than 50 humanitarian responses. COVID prompted a new expansion of the RGA process—with 28 RGAs already published around

COVID-19 by July 7, and 24 more in process. The scaling has included new partnerships with UN Women, UNICEF, WFP, and national governments like Bangladesh and Malawi to co-own the analysis process and use it to shape COVID-19 response in ways that will work for women. Lifting up stories and experiences from more than 6,500 people and examining secondary data from more than 60 countries, this process is allowing new insights into COVID19, how it is evolving, and how we need to change humanitarian and development responses at scale.  The process scales practical ways to include women’s perspectives and gender equality into humanitarian responses from the beginning of a response, and as responses evolve around the world.

Contact: Emily Janoch (

CASE (Social Enterprise)

Using data to power scale. CASE is excited to share the newest in its Scaling Pathways series, Using Data to Power Scale, which shares tips and insights on how social enterprises can create and implement a data strategy that will support a drive to impact at scale This short blog highlights that in order to unlock the potential of data to scale impact, the approach must be grounded in equity, ensuring that all stakeholders have a voice so that you are not scaling bias as you go. This newest resource from Scaling Pathways begins with tips, tactics, and examples from social enterprises and existing research to help you lay this critical foundation of equitable and inclusive data practices. The document incudes three key questions and several examples to help organizations get started. The full Using Data to Power Scale paper provides additional best practices on building equity into a data strategy, as well as many other tips and tools on how to use data to drive scale.

Contact: Kimberly Bardy Langsam (

Catholic Relief Service (CRS) (General, Youth)

CRS’s CASCADE Project to deepen its capacity to scale. Catholic Relief Services launched its new

Catalyzing Scale through Evidence (CASCADE) Project in early 2020. With funding from the Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst Foundation, the 3-year project aims to deepen CRS’ capacity to scale humanitarian and development outcomes through influence. While CRS achieves impacts in many sectors through implementation of projects with local partners, its Vision 2030 strategy aspires to achieve transformational change at scale by breaking out of traditional project paradigms to mobilize and collaborate with a wide array of actors. These scaling efforts focus on six strategic change platforms (social cohesion and justice; safe and dignified homes; land restoration; ending malaria; reintegrating children into families; and youth employment and civic engagement). The CASCADE Project supports these strategic change platforms to design and implement strategies to influence governments, NGOs, donors, and the private sector to scale approaches in their respective sectors. To this end, CASCADE builds capacity and creates systems for each platform to generate evidence for influence; facilitates learning within and across platforms about what works and does not work in influencing scale; supports new and existing partnerships with research and learning institutions; and advises CRS teams on organizational change needed to realize its Vision 2030.

For more information about CASCADE contact Erin Baldridge ( and Kris Inman (

4Children contributes to the scaling pf programs for orphans and vulnerable children. Catholic Relief Services’ 4Children project has contributed to the scaling of programs for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) by developing standard operating procedures and tools for case management of OVC, as well as standardizing definitions of concept such as graduation from an OVC program (in FY19, OVC PEPFAR supported 6.3 million children and caregivers).  Using a household and a programming lens, 4Children has defined the case plan achievement pathway and benchmarks and brought together the goals of the OVC program– that households meet benchmarks to graduate — and the goals that households identify in their own case plan. In September 2018, PEPFAR added OVC case plan achievement benchmarks as a required measurement approach for its Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) indicators.  This recognizes a shift to “Person-Centered Monitoring” from their previous stance of measuring services (e.g., number of HIV tests or people on treatment).  Standard definitions informed the development of standard operating procedures for case management of OVC, culminating in a global case management package. Variations on this package have been used to strengthen national social service systems in 12 countries and the availability of standard tools improves the ability to reach large numbers of families with a consistent approach.

Scaling of virtual case monitoring in response to COVID-19. Changing the Way We CareSM

(CTWWC) is an initiative, launched by Catholic Relief Services, Lumos Foundation, Maestral International and other partners in 2018, designed to promote safe, nurturing family care for children, demonstrating reform of national child care systems, strengthening family care, and influencing change at scale across countries, regions and the globe. With growing global understanding that institutional care of children is a significant problem, CTWWC works with national, regional and global stakeholders to strengthen family care.

CTWWC had supported the development of national case management standard operating procedures, tools and training for reintegration of children into family care pre-COVID-19 in Kenya, Guatemala, Haiti and India. In March 2020, it became clear that the pandemic presented new challenges to families’ ability to care for and protect their children. Facing increased household economic challenges, protection concerns, mental health impacts of isolation, and potential illness risk, families in CTWWC programs now also had limited access to support from their case workers. In response, case management advisors worked across different country contexts to adapt tools for use remotely, via internet or telephone. The virtual monitoring guidance and tool was developed within weeks along with other case management resources, and tested by case workers in demonstration sites in Kenya and Guatemala. In the coming weeks, virtual monitoring tools will be rolled out nationally through online training and virtual coaching provided to government and non-government case workers. Recorded training will be made available to further scale in target countries and beyond. Virtual monitoring is currently being used in Haiti, India, and Moldova.  Working as part of inter-agency response groups and partnering with networks means has expanded access to these tools. Dissemination through  Catholic Relief Services’ Institute for Capacity Strengthening, Better Care Network’s COVID19 Resource Center, Faith to Action, the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action further extends this reach to actors working in the protection and care for children across the globe.

Contact: Kristie Inman (

Center for Universal Education at Brookings (CUE) (Education)

Delivering quality education during COVID-19. Patrick Hannahan published a blog on Adapting approaches to deliver quality education in response to COVID19. This blog shares examples of how the Center for Universal Education’s Real-time Scaling Lab partners are adapting their models and strategies to ensure children and young people continue to receive an education during the COVID-19 crisis. These adaptive learning actions have included experimenting with new approaches, leveraging deep roots within communities, sharing knowledge, and embracing windows of opportunities.

Contact: Molly Curtiss (

Duke University (Youth, Social Enterprise)

Scaling sustainable solutions to the most pressing challenges facing children and youth.

The DukeUNICEF Innovation Accelerator, a pioneering partnership between the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative at Duke University and UNICEF, is focused on identifying, assessing, building, and scaling sustainable solutions to the most pressing challenges facing children and youth around the world. In its inaugural year, six East African-based social enterprises working in menstrual health and hygiene were selected to receive funding and direct support to help implement, assess, and refine their innovations, and to design and pursue financially viable, ecosystem-sensitive strategies to scale their impact. Learn more about the innovative, game changing social entrepreneurs supported at

Contact: Taylor Conger (

CGIAR (Agriculture)

Scaling Readiness assessments for evidencebased scaling.  A new article by Sartas, M., Schut, M., Proietti, C., Thiele, G. & Leeuwis, C. on “Scaling Readiness: science and practice of an approach to enhance the impact of research for development” (Agricultural Systems183) argues that scaling of innovations is a key requirement for addressing societal challenges in sectors such as health, agriculture, and the environment. The paper notes a gap between new complexity-aware theories and perspectives on innovation, and tools and approaches that can improve strategic and operational decision making in research interventions that aim to scale innovations. The paper aims to bridge that gap by developing the key concepts and measures of Scaling Readiness, an approach that encourages critical reflection on how ready innovations are for scaling and what appropriate actions could accelerate or enhance scaling. Scaling Readiness provides action-oriented support for (1) characterizing the innovation and innovation system; (2) diagnosing the current readiness of innovations to scale; (3) developing a strategy to overcome bottlenecks for scaling; (4) facilitating and negotiating multi-stakeholder innovation and scaling processes; and (5) navigating and monitoring the implementation process to allow for adaptive management. Scaling Readiness has the potential to support evidence-based scaling strategy design, implementation and monitoring, and – if applied across multiple interventions – can be used to manage a portfolio of innovation and scaling investments.

Contact: Marc Schut (

Educate! (Education)

Pivoting quickly in response to COVID-19 to educate youth at home. Educate!’s Boris Bulayev and Loren Crary share the organization’s COVID-19 response insights in Why We Need to Play Offense, and How. The piece is a reflection on the necessary pivots made when the health pandemic disrupted so much of what the nonprofit does internally and externally, ultimately working to serve East African youth in their homes safely and swiftly. Educate! hopes that the framework might be useful to organizations of all shapes and sizes working to continue creating impact amidst all of the unknowns of today.

Contact: Joanna Watkins (

ExpandNet (General, Agriculture)

Scaling up in support for ocean fisheries. The Walton Family Foundation invited ExpandNet to collaborate with their Oceans Team that is working globally towards the ambitious goal of ensuring healthy, sustainable ocean fisheries. The goal of the collaboration is to support the Foundation to bring a strong scale-up perspective to their funded fisheries work and includes two components: first, to strengthen the capacity of the Foundation’s Oceans Team working in Asia and Latin America to internalize scale-up concepts and apply international learning from the use of systematic approaches to scale up; and second, to collaborate with grantees of the Indonesia portfolio to apply the ExpandNet/WHO framework, tools and approach (FTA) to improve the prospects for scale up and sustainability of successful interventions. The current work with Walton Foundation grantees reconfirmed the FTA’s multi-sectoral relevance. Work with the Oceans Team also reinforces two other ExpandNet findings from the last decade of work across sectors, namely: 1) scale up is a political, policy, and institution-building task with lessons that are transferrable across sectors; and 2) facilitation of application of the FTA by one or more persons with scale-up expertise and the ability to build scale-up capacity in the team is extremely helpful.

Contact: Laura Ghiron (

IDRC (General)

IDRC focuses intensively on scaling the impact of the research it supports.

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) – a funder with a focus on research for development – continues to advance its vision for a shared and inclusive science of scaling. The objective of Scaling Science for IDRC, is a more critical, systematic, and creative means of scaling impact. By working together across organizations and academics, the aim is the development of dynamic and diverse systems of innovation that will support (and challenge!) available approaches to scaling. They argue it is time this development ‘blind-spot’ receives more critical multi-disciplinary attention. In IDRC’s latest bulletin, scaling is front and center. They highlight some brief explainer texts/videos as well as some more foundational research results on the topic, and they draw attention to their just-launched evaluation of scaling at IDRC: a critical external evaluation of IDRC effort on the topic which they hope will also be a further contribution to the science of scaling. If you are a funder who has supported scaling or a researcher who has received an IDRC grant in the past 5 years, you’ll find a link to complete an evaluation survey, to be completed by 30 July 2020. You can access the IDRC Bulletin available here, and the IDRC Scaling Science website at:

Contact: Robert McLean, IDRC (

ILRI (Agriculture)

ILRI adopts new framework for scaling up livestock research for development: ILRI posted a blog on 16 April 2020 by Saba Ermyas, which reports on a new scaling framework for livestock research. The core business of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is to undertake livestock research for development. However, ILRI, along with other CGIAR centers and research institutions, is being held accountable by its funders for ensuring that research outputs are translated into outcomes and ultimately to impact at scale for end users including farmers and policymakers. To make scaling concepts and tools more accessible to ILRI researchers and their partners, ILRI’s Impact at Scale program (I@S) reviewed the landscape of scaling with the aim of summarizing relevant approaches and tools that livestock projects can benefit from, and providing those projects with a detailed process on how they can scale more effectively. The resulting ILRI framework provides an overview of the steps along with short summaries and assessments of nine tools related to scalability assessment. The scaling tools, which were developed by research institutes, development agencies, non-governmental organizations and private companies include Scaling readiness, Scaling scan, Agricultural scalability assessment tool (ASAT), Operational framework for scaling up results, Nine steps for developing a scaling up strategy, Assessing scaling potential tool, Scalability assessment and planning toolkit, Scaling up: from vision to largescale change and Scaling assessment map.   In addition, last month the Livestock CRP held a review and planning meeting, and prepared an open-access summary of the scaling activities in both interactive PDF and Mural formats that the CoP may find of interest.  For those new to Mural, there is a short (4-minute) YouTube video showing how one can navigate a Mural and make the most of the content (link), as well as a 2minute YouTube video guide to the Mural’s content here.

Contact: Iddo Dror (

IPA (Education, M&E)

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and Peru’s Ministry of Education are working together at national scale to leverage rapid data and evidence-informed solutions that mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Replicating and adapting an interactive radio instruction program for rural preschool children in the context of distance learning. Due to social distancing measures and school closures–and given the challenge to reach rural students–the Ministry of Education developed Aprendo en Casa, a multi-platform remote education strategy. In this context, IPA, in partnership with researchers Juan Manuel Hernandez-Agramonte, Emma Naslund-Hadley, and Carolina Mendez, is implementing and evaluating a program aimed at rural preschool children and their parents that uses interactive radio instruction methodology to improve pre-Mathematics skills. Based on previous experiences in Paraguay and Panama, a set of Mathematics radio programs will be adapted to include a parental engagement component and broadcasted in national and local stations.

Scaling up existing evidence-informed solutions for pandemic response. After the Ebola outbreak, some African students whose education was interrupted never returned to school. To avoid this experience, Peru’s Ministry of Education is implementing “Choosing a Better Future,” a video program IPA previously evaluated that has been effective in reducing student drop-out rates in Peru. The Ministry of Education is using this proven intervention to prevent COVID-19related dropouts and has begun to broadcast these videos on national TV. IPA and Peru’s Ministry of Education discussed this project and others in a webinaron July 14 highlighting the Ministry’s approach to using data to guide its decision-making during the pandemic and subsequent recovery.

Contact: Shahana Hirji (

J-PAL (Youth, M&E)

J-PAL continues to work to inform policy responses to COVID-19 at scale with scientific evidence. Most recently, researchers and staff from J-PAL’s Latin America & Caribbean office advised Chile’s Ministry of Finance on how to provide economic support to informal workers during the COVID-19 emergency in the country. Their recommendations informed the design of a new subsidy for workers through the Ingreso Familiar de Emergencia (Family Emergency Income law) which began its roll out on May 20. The Ministry has also asked for additional advice in identifying interventions to support vulnerable populations in the long run, with a focus on employment opportunities. To learn more about J-PAL’s work to use evidence to influence policy at scale, visit their Evidence to Policy page or watch this video.

Contact: Adil Ababou (

Scaling up individualized tutoring to improve learning in the United States: After partnering with J-PAL affiliated professors to evaluate their individualized math tutoring program, Saga Education expanded its program to reach over 2,500 students. Co-founder Antonio

Gutierrez shares how understanding the impact of their program in Chicago helped secure buyin from stakeholders to scale up the program and serve more students across the United States. Watch now »

MacArthur Foundation and MSI (General)

Announcing the finalists for 100&Change. On 20 July 2020 the MacArthur Foundation announced the selection of six finalists for it $100 million 100&Change grant, its global competition to select bold solutions at address critical social challenges at scale.  The six finalists are: Clinton Health Access Initiative & Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Bringing lifesaving oxygen therapy to children worldwide; Community Solutions, Accelerating an end to homelessness in 75 U.S. communities; National Geographic Pristine Seas; Safeguarding and restoring the ocean’s health and productivity; Project ECHO, Democratizing life-saving medical knowledge and care; Report for America, Eliminating American news deserts; and The World Mosquito Program Protecting communities by preventing transmission of mosquito-borne disease.

MSI will be providing support to all six of these finalists over the next five months as they elaborate and strengthen their scaling strategies.

Contact: MacArthur Foundation (

PASO Colombia (Agriculture)

Providing legal alternatives at scale to coca farmers in Colombia. With 240,000 growers, coca is the third largest agricultural product in Colombia in terms of direct agricultural employment. In October 2019, PASO Colombia, a program of the One Earth Future Foundation, launched a pilot initiative with 2.000 cocalero families that strengthens legal agricultural alternatives in ten municipalities of the country. With evidence from this program and from the ongoing work on economic reincorporation of over 1.800 former guerrillas, PASO is designing a strategy to scale up a Governance Network that the University of Notre Dame named in its recent report the “Network of hope”. (see here)

In its first stage, the aim is to involve at least 20.000 cocalero families at a fraction of the cost of the current Government effort. Adopting a territorial approach, PASP Colombia hopes to galvanize a process that will ripple to the rest of the cocalero community. The key scalable factors of the program are the ability to commercialize, the ability to reduce costs of production by 30% with new systems of fertilizer and feed production, the support of local organizations to develop what PASO Colombia calls “situational intelligence” and the capacity to attract private investment.

Contact: Juan Fernando Lucio (

Results for Development Institute (R4D) (Nutrition, Education)

Strengthening systems for the treatment of acute malnutrition. In partnership with UNICEF, R4D launched a new project to assess country and regional needs for technical support on strengthening and scaling-up wasting programs. The project will generate practical research and guidance to inform country-led strategies to integrate wasting treatment in health systems.

Contact: Kavya Ghai (

An adaptive learning approach for parents to read with their children.  R4D’s partnership with

Worldreader and Pearson’s Project Literacy was featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR). This article (paywall) by Jennifer Baljko describes how R4D’s adaptive learning approach was used to help design at scale a behavior change and technology intervention enabling parents to read with their young children in India.

Contact: Luke Heinkel (

Syngenta Foundation (Agriculture)

Scaling up insurance means proving there’s a market: Farming life continues despite COVID-19, and so does smallholders’ need for crop insurance.  In fact, given all the challenges of the pandemic, insuring against other risks such as weather is arguably now more vital than ever. The Syngenta Foundation (SFSA) wants to scale up that cover to protect as many smallholders as possible. Its latest drive to do so is in Bangladesh. SFSA recently announced a partnership to take its insurance work there to a new level. Partners include the InsuResilience Solutions Fund (ISF*), digital developers EnvEve S.A. and the Swiss Agency for Development & Co-operation (SDC). Crucial for scale-up, however, is the involvement of BRAC, the world’s largest NGO and microfinance institution, and Green Delta Insurance Company Ltd (GDIC), Bangladesh’s largest non-life insurance company. “Their ability to reach huge numbers of smallholders should enable us to change the equation”, says SFSA Director Simon Winter. “Instead of viewing smallholder insurance just as a bit of CSR, we want the private sector to see it as a serious commercial opportunity.”

Contact: Paul Castle (

3ie (M&E)

How can evaluation support scaling? 3ie hosted a series of highlyinteractive online events from 7-28 May 2020, as part of its new Virtual Evidence Weeks. The events involved discussions on the role and importance of evidence in the midst of this ongoing global health crisis, the importance of cost evidence, cost-benefit analysis, and evidence-driven scaling-up programs. The panel on scaling focused on basic issues of scaling, how evaluation can support it, and how scaling is relevant in the time of the COVID-19 crisis. Among the session’s conclusions was the recognition that, if one’s purpose is the widespread availability of interventions that can improve lives, one needs to know not just whether interventions are effective under ideal conditions, but whether they can be scaled under challenging conditions and the cost implications of doing so.

Contact: David de Ferranti (           

Publications and Other Initiatives


Scaling accountability through vertically integrated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy, This working paper argues that the growing field of transparency, participation and accountability (TPA) needs a conceptual reboot, to address the limited traction gained so far on the path to accountability. To inform more strategic approaches and to identify the drivers of more sustainable institutional change, fresh analytical work is needed. This paper makes the case for one among several possible strategic approaches by distinguishing between “scaling up” and “taking scale into account”. This proposition grounds an explanation of the vertical integration strategy, which involves multi-level coordination by civil society organizations of policy monitoring and advocacy, grounded in broad pro-accountability constituencies. To spell out how this strategy can empower pro-accountability actors, the paper contrasts varied terms of engagement between state and society, proposing a focus on collaborative coalitions as an alternative to the conventional dichotomy between confrontation and constructive engagement. The paper grounds this discussion by reviewing the rich empirical terrain of existing multilevel approaches, summarizing nine cases – three each in three countries – to demonstrate what can be revealed when TPA initiatives are seen through the lens of scale. It concludes with a set of broad analytical questions for discussion, followed by testable hypotheses proposed to inform future research agendas.

Can a hackathon in Germany find a solution for COVID19? By Andrew Green. Devex. 23 July 2020.


Marcel Heyne knew he was sitting on a solution to a problem in the pandemic: How to get information about the virus to people in rural communities with high levels of poverty, where literacy was low. For several years, Heyne has been building Audiopedia, a stockpile of audio information, including health promotion and disease prevention. The information is translated into a variety of languages, tailorable, free, and easily shared. The problem was that the needs of the pandemic exceeded Audiopedia’s capacity — currently two core employees and hundreds of volunteers. Enter Germany’s Federal Ministry of Development (BMZ) and Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) with #SmartDevelopmentHack. Hackathons are seen as a low-cost, low-commitment approach to incubating new, tech-heavy solutions, and have found champions in private companies such as Microsoft, and even among United Nations bodies. But what are the implications of using hackathons?

Saving Lives, Scaling-up Impact and Getting Back on Track: World Bank Group COVID-19 Crisis

Response Approach Paper. June 2020 (

This paper sets out the WBG approach to providing support exceptional in speed, scale and selectivity to countries as they tackle the unprecedented threats posed by the COVID-19 crisis. WBG support focuses on helping countries address the crisis and transition to recovery through a combination of saving lives threatened by the pandemic; protecting the poor and vulnerable; securing foundations of the economy; and strengthening policies and institutions for resilience based on transparent, sustainable debt and investments. The paper outlines the operational framework for the approach and discusses the medium-term outlook for the WBG’s financial capacity. Working as One WBG, the approach emphasizes selectivity and public-private joint interventions to scale up private sector solutions while staying focused on results.


“Scaling up climatesmart agriculture: lessons learned from South Asia and pathways for success,”  by Henry Neufeldt, Christine Negra, Jim Hancock, and Pal Singh. February 2016, World Agroforestry Center Working Paper.

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) can help overcome hunger while helping rural populations adapt to climate change, manage natural resources sustainably and curb rising temperatures. As food insecurity, poverty, climate change and environmental degradation challenges build and intensify, climate-smart solutions will need to be implemented on a much greater scale. This paper aims to aid policy makers and rural development practitioners in strategically planning scaling up of successful CSA practices.

“Scaling up communitybased goat breeding programmes via multistakeholder collaboration,”  

by Wilson Kaumbata, Helen Nakimbugwe, Aynalem Haile, Liveness Banda, Gábor Mészáros, Timothy Gondwe, M. J. Woodward-Greene, Benjamin D. Rosen, Curtis P. Van Tassell, Johann Sölkner, and Maria Wurzinger, in Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Tropics and Subtropics, Vol. 121 No. 1 (2020) 99–112.

Community-based livestock breeding programs (CBBPs) have emerged as a potential approach to implement sustainable livestock breeding in smallholder systems. In Malawi and Uganda, goat CBBPs were introduced to improve production and productivity of indigenous goats through selective breeding. Scaling up CBBPs have recently received support due to evidence-based results from current implementation and results of CBBPs implemented in other regions of the world. This paper explores strategies for scaling up goat CBBPs in Malawi and Uganda, and documents experiences and lessons learned during implementation of the program. Scaling up strategies should be an integral part of the pilot design, hence dissemination partners need to be engaged during the design and inception stages of the pilot CBBPs. Creation of self-sustaining CBBPs requires early collaborative program planning, meaningful investment, and longterm concerted and coordinated efforts by collaborating partners.  Permanently established actors, like government agencies and research and training institutions, are better placed to coordinate such efforts.  The overall goal of the scaling up program should be creation of a financially sustainable system, in which smallholders are able, on their own, to transact and sustain operations of their local breeding institutions using locally generated revenue/resources. Since CBBP scaling up is a ‘learning by doing process’, an effective monitoring and evaluation system should be an integral part of the process.

“Using theories of change in the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health,”  by John Mayne and Nancy Johnson, in Evaluation, Volume: 21 issue: 4, page(s): 407428, Oct. 2015.

Theories of change are increasingly being discussed and referenced in development evaluation even while the elements of what a theory of change consist of differ widely among applications. Equally, examples of actual use of theories of change other than as overview illustrations of interventions are rare. In this article, the authors present generic models of theories of change for both straightforward and more complex interventions. A number of examples of evidence-based theories of change in the area of agriculture research for nutrition and health are discussed, as is the need for different versions of a theory of change for different purposes. The authors also discuss the use and analysis of these models in planning, managing and assessing research-related interventions, illustrating the practical usefulness of well-developed theories of change. The article recommends the more extensive and rigorous use of theories of change to clarify, analyze and support scaling pathways.

“Researchdevelopment partnerships for scaling complex innovation: Lessons from the Farmer

Business School in IFADsupported loangrant collaborations in Asia,” by Gordon Prain,

Christopher Wheatley, Cameron Odsey, Leonora Verzola, Arma Bertuso, Julieta Roa, and Diego

Naziri, in Agricultural Systems, Volume 182, June 2020, 102834

To scale complex innovations like the Farmer Business School, a systems understanding of innovation and scaling is needed. Research-development partnerships and their dynamics are integral to a systems understanding of innovation and scaling. The recognized stages through which most partnerships pass provides a useful framework for analyzing the dynamics and drivers of partnerships for scaling. Key drivers of partnership include ‘fit’ between research expertise and development demand and between the innovation and livelihood systems aspects of the development action.

“Understanding innovation: The development and scaling of orangefleshed sweet potato in major African food systems,” by Jan W. Low and Graham Thiele, in Agricultural Systems Volume 179, March 2020, 102770.

Vitamin A-rich, orange-fleshed sweet potato is the lead biofortified crop in Africa. OFSP was a disruptive innovation. Committed leadership for innovation for over 20 years was critical for scaling, detailed in this publication. A strong and tailored evidence base was essential for obtaining support for scaling which succeeded in uniting diverse organizations around a common vision.


“Scaling and ‘systems thinking’ in education: reflections from UK aid professionals,”  by Emma

Gibbs, Charlotte Jones, Jess Atkinson, Ian Attfield, Rona Bronwin, Rachel Hinton, Amy Potter,

and Laura Savage, in Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education (2020) DOI: 10.1080/03057925.2020.1784552.

This article introduces a collection of reflections on the topic of what works at scale to raise learning outcomes for all in low- and middle-income contexts. Based on the research undertaken by DFID and the authors’ own experiences, they contend that more of a ‘systems lens’ is needed to successfully tackle education implementation problems at scale and improve learning levels for all. The paper draws and elaborates four foundational conclusions from existing literature on scale and systems change in the global education sector, including that not all small-scale interventions can be implemented at different scales or in different places equally successfully, and that how education systems function has an impact upon the effectiveness of any given intervention in the sector.

“Sandboxes: our approach to systemic experimentation,”  posted on 28th January 2020 by Lea Simpson, The EdTech Hub.

A sandbox is a real-life location used for experimentation. As might be imagined, a sandbox creates a small and contained space to test a proposed intervention. It allows one to safely learn and adapt in a small space before rolling out promising ideas more widely. The term itself comes from software engineering and was originally used to describe a space that allowed developers to safely test new code before using it across the board. For example, a new EdTech intervention can be tested within a single school, adapted to any issues that may have been a challenge, and then rolled out the initiative to a cluster of schools, adapted to any issues seen at the bigger scale, and then extended to an education district. This approach, as detailed in the publication, also allows an organization to “learn out loud”.

Monitoring & Evaluation

“Randomized controlled trials of multisectoral programs: Lessons from development research,”  by Agnes R. Quisumbing et al., in World Development, Volume 127, March 2020.    

The authors’ approach addresses three perceived pitfalls of RCTs: the “black box” nature of RCTs, limited external validity, and challenges in translation of results to impacts at scale. They address these concerns by identifying and assessing programmatic pathways to impact with quantitative and qualitative methods; studying similar programs implemented by different organizations across various settings; and working closely with implementing partners in the design, research, and dissemination processes to inform adaptation and scale-up of programs and policies.

“Debating RCTs,” podcast by the Development Policy Center (Australia), March 2020.   The first of the AAC2020 podcasts, Debating RCTs features Andrew Leigh, Jo Puri, and

Lant Pritchett. In this thought-provoking debate, these three experts discuss whether RCTs are over-hyped or under-used. How useful are RCTs in the real world of development assistance? And what more generally needs to be done to improve the quality and impact of impact evaluations and to promote learning in aid?


“From rhetoric to reality: Transforming philanthropy to deliver outcomes that matter most.” Devex Editor, 15 May 2020. 

How can mission-driven corporate philanthropies deliver scalable and sustainable solutions that lead to lasting impact? Devex identifies four key factors: (1) Make the right financial investments in the right areas; (2) Choose the right partners to invest in and work with; (3)  Leverage a range of resources and skills, as well as financial support; and (4) Empower employee choice when investing in local communities.

“How scalable are maternity waiting homes?”  By Sara Jerving, Devex, 09 March 2020.

This article explores how scalable are maternity waiting homes? Many women in rural Africa must decide between delivering their baby at home or embarking on a long journey to reach a health facility — a river, mountain, or desert could stand in the way. In Zambia, maternity waiting homes — a space for women to wait in the lead-up to childbirth, with access to health workers who routinely check on them — can help ease that decision. But there have been questions around their effectiveness, as well as how to encourage women to stay at these facilities, which are further explored in this article.

“Scaling up physical activity interventions worldwide: stepping up to larger and smarter approaches to get people moving,”  by R.S. Reis, D. Salvo, D. Ogilvie, E.V. Lambert and S.

Goenka, in The Lancet, 17 July 2016.

The global pandemic of physical inactivity requires a multisectoral, multidisciplinary public-health response. Scaling up interventions that are capable of increasing levels of physical activity in populations across the varying cultural, geographic, social, and economic contexts worldwide is challenging, but feasible. In this paper, the authors review the factors that could help to achieve this. Using a mixed-methods approach to comprehensively examine these factors, they draw on available evidence from both evidence-to-practice and practice-to-evidence methods. The paper’s conclusions suggest that researchers, funders, practitioners and policymakers in culture, education, health, leisure, planning, transport, and civil society as a whole, all have important roles.

“Scalingup auch in der Bewegungsförderung?: Konzepte, Handlungsleitfäden und praktische Tipps zur Verbreitung erfolgreicher Interventionen,”  (Scaling up also for physical activity interventions? Concepts, guidelines and practical tips for the diffusion of successful interventions”) by S. Ferschl et al., in B&G Bewegungstherapie und Gesundheitssport 36(03):119-126, May 2020. DOI: 10.1055/a11535882

On the basis of a literature review, this article gives a first overview of some theoretical scaling-up models as well as practical guidelines for a successful scaling-up. Current research provides important insights into the definition of scaling-up and related concepts, the different types of scaling-up, key players and their specific roles, the flow of scaling-up processes, and the favorable as well as obstructive contextual factors for successful scaling-up. This article thus contributes to the planning and practical implementation of concrete scaling-up projects on the one hand; and provides suggestions for further research on the other.

Nutrition and Food Security

“A case study on the scalingup of double fortified salt through the public distribution system of a food security program in Uttar Pradesh, India: experiences, challenges, and achievements,”  M.H. Jadhav, M.G. Venkatesh Mannar, and A.S. Wesley, in Journal of Global Health Reports.

2019;3:e 2019075. doi:10.29392/001c.12181

Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) exerts an enormous public health burden in low-income countries, primarily affecting women and children. Double fortified salt (DFS) – salt fortified with Iodine and Iron – has the potential to prevent and correct iron deficiencies. Major challenges relate to the implementation and scaling-up of the production, distribution, and promotion of DFS. A pilot project for scaling up DFS through integration with the public distribution system (PDS) – a federal food security program in India – was implemented for a one-year period. One of the objectives was to test the scale-up model, critically evaluate its scalability, and assess drivers and spaces for the scale-up. Using the case study methodology, the authors reviewed program records, monitoring data, and key informant interviews with stakeholders. “Scalability considerations” and “drivers and spaces” framework from scale-up literature were used for synthesizing findings. The PDS provided a readily available and expansive platform for DFS distribution, accelerating scale-up. Bundling DFS with other subsidized commodities increased the purchase of DFS, but not necessarily ensured utilization. Low demand due to lack of consumer awareness; consumer preference; and slight discoloration of some food items, were main demand-side factors presenting a challenge to optimal scale-up. Inadequate state government resources for subsidizing DFS, and lack of financial incentives to PDS shopkeepers for additional work, were significant supply-side challenges. The approach, however, provided for innovative financing (especially from the private sector) for investments in scaling-up nutrition interventions through multi-sectoral partnerships, while serving the interests of individual sectors. The paper concludes that incorporating DFS into food security schemes with extensive outreach can dramatically accelerate the scaling-up of fortification intervention and it recommends that contextual factors critical to scalingup, from both the supply and demand side, be more comprehensively and systematically identified and addressed before and during scaling-up.

Special Features

Scaling education innovations in a pandemic: What can we learn from Nigeria?

By Oyindamola Adegboye and Olumide Morolayo, The Education Partnership (TEP) Center July 2020

Similar to other countries, schools in Nigeria have been temporarily shut down following the outbreak of COVID-19. While this presents numerous challenges for an already fragile education system, there is also an opportunity for education innovation to shine and thrive in Nigeria like never before. Within the last four months, the Education Partnership (TEP) Centre, has been observing how education innovations are being deployed and scaled to curb a potential learning slide, from large-scale, low-tech interventions by governments, to smaller scale, high-tech solutions by private stakeholders, to innovative partnerships that adopt a mix of approaches.

As the pandemic persists, stakeholders are devising means to scale their innovations. Among state actors, for instance, the Lagos state government has started an aggressive distribution of 10,000 radio sets to allow learners in underserved communities to partake in the ongoing radio lessons. In Ogun state, the government also launched Ogun DigiClass (an online platform that provides video lessons) and recently included assessments on the platform for students in examination classes.

As part of scaling, institutionalization of COVID-driven distance learning efforts is also occurring. Roducate, a mobile learning application which can be used with minimal data, seems to be the platform of choice for Lagos state.  With the aim of reaching 1 million learners, the e-learning software provider partnered with a leading financial institution to deliver access to education to learners across Lagos state. The strategy has three prongs: (1) piloting through direct access to schools and institutions offering education services; (2) technical partnership with a financial institution to design an appealing business model while creating a solution that addresses infrastructural challenges like unstable electricity and high data costs; and (3) scaling by partnering with the state government to reach rural areas and creating an official e-learning platform for all teachers and learners in the state.

In April 2020, TEP Centre launched a nationwide online survey gathering data from 1901 respondents across 32 of Nigeria’s 36 states – including government officials, private sector organizations, teachers, parents and students. Among the survey respondents, 76% of the innovations from the non-state sector did not exist pre-pandemic indicating a high rate of responsiveness. In terms of scaling their ongoing interventions, some private schools indicated expanding their e-learning content to cater for students in lower primary classes and upgrading from audio to video content.

From the efforts of different stakeholders, it is evident that the scaling of education innovations has also allowed countries like Nigeria to demonstrate resilience – evidenced by the speed of responsiveness – in areas where some advanced countries may still be struggling. However, some key issues need to be addressed for the scaling efforts to be effective. Both state and non-state efforts require adequate funding and, as we have seen in recent months, multi-stakeholder partnerships have the potential to drive more sustainable results in education innovation.

Infrastructural issues like electricity, reliable internet access, and availability of mobile learning devices are also important for scaling to be impactful. Additionally, while scaling EdTech is important, key issues like the curriculum and standardized assessments to monitor the impact of scaling efforts, should be prioritized. The emphasis on scaling EdTech must run concurrently with an emphasis on quality education.

Pathways to Scaling Biofortification: The Uganda Example

By HarvestPlus

July 2020

More than 2.5 billion people are at risk of micronutrient deficiency worldwide.  Also known as “hidden hunger”, and mainly resulting from poor diets, micronutrient deficiencies cause ill health, impair children’s mental and physical development, and reduce productivity in adults— all preventing people and countries from reaching their full potential.

Biofortification is the process of using conventional plant breeding methods to improve the micronutrient content of commonly consumed staple crops. Proven to be efficacious, costeffective, and scalable, these crops can help tackle hidden hunger, especially among vulnerable groups with limited access to diverse diets or other nutrition interventions such as fortification or supplementation.

By the end of 2019, HarvestPlus had facilitated the release of 242 conventionally bred varieties of 11 staple crops in 30 countries. Biofortification is also included in national policies, programs, and regulations in 24 countries, and is increasingly integrated into funding strategies of international finance institutions. An estimated 8.5 million farming households worldwide, comprising 42.5 million people, are currently benefiting from biofortified crops.

Uganda is a notable country-level example of a successful scale-up of biofortification.

HarvestPlus and partners introduced vitamin A orange sweet potato (OSP) and iron beans in Uganda to help address widespread iron-deficiency anemia and vitamin A deficiency in the country.

A recent web article and online poster describe how this innovation-led effort took shape over the past 15 years. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the Reaching End Users with OSP project (2006-2009), from World Food Programme (2010-2011) through the

HarvestPlus Challenge project, and from USAID through the Developing and Delivering Biofortified Crops project (2011- 2016) and the Meals for Nutrition (2017-present) project, the effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of biofortification was proven. As a result of crop delivery activities, a total of nearly 960,000 smallholder farming households have been benefiting from OSP, and 695,000 households from iron beans.

Based on rigorous research, HarvestPlus has leveraged innovative approaches to catalyze the scale-up of delivery, including:

  • The “payback system”, giving seed recipients the option of paying for the seeds with an agreed-upon portion of their harvest back to the program to benefit more households;
  • A novel planting material system that increased the availability and accessibility of highquality, high-yielding planting material, resulting in high adoption by farmers, increased consumption of these nutritious foods, and higher household incomes;
  • Linking producers of biofortified crops to input providers by leveraging technologies such as the sweet potato mobile app project. Farmers will use this app to locate certified planting material and to get agronomic information pertaining to biofortified crops;
  • Increasing awareness of biofortification’s benefits through creative campaigns such as a popular radio drama, My Children, which provided nutritional and agronomic information on biofortified crops; and community-level initiatives such as Lead Mother Initiativewhich empowered women, the biofortified crop producers, to share their knowledge about growing and preparing nutritious meals with other women in their communities;
  • Strong partnership with the government through the National Biofortification Technical Working Group, enabling biofortification’s inclusion in several national health/nutrition and agricultural plans/policies and programs; and
  • Partnering with the food industry (e.g., the SESACO producing instant porridge with biofortified ingredients) and connecting the value chain actors.

Scaling Early Childhood Impact: Ideas and lessons learned from Bernard van Leer Foundation’s experience

By Irina Ivan with Cecilia Vaca Jones

Hague, The Netherlands, 16 July 2020

The Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) has kept its focus on early childhood for more than 50 years. Since 1967, we have been working with and through partners in government, civil society, academia, and business to develop, scale and spread solutions that can be adapted and deployed worldwide, and which address multiple problems facing young children. While we have shifted our focus within this field over the course of this period, and we have also gradually started to work with more partners in government, the longevity of our sectoral focus has enabled us to learn a lot about what is necessary to go from promising small-scale pilots towards models and policies that can be scaled up to the national level or beyond.

We believe that a good start in life puts each child on the path to realizing her or his full potential and sets the foundation for a healthy, creative, and peaceful society. Collaboration across fields such as neuroscience, public health, education, and economics has resulted in the establishment of a firm fact – that when babies and toddlers have stable, responsive caregivers in safe, supportive environments, they can flourish even in the most difficult circumstances. Governments and other actors must therefore not only aim for universal policies and programs catering to all children but also ensure that the policies and programs focus on the most disadvantaged. In other words, we must work to level the playing field.

Over the years, we have seen amazing progress in the world of early childhood towards promoting a good start in life for all children. Plenty of ideas to improve the youngest children’s health, nutrition, protection, and learning have shown their worth. Political will for such ideas is now emerging worldwide. The case for WHY early childhood matters has effectively been made (for example by James Heckman, by Chuck Nelson,  the Lancet, the New York Academy of Sciences, the Harvard Center for the Developing Child and Innovation for Poverty Action). While we have seen many of our programs scale over years (see links below), there remain challenges to be overcome with regard to HOW to deliver and sustain quality integrated approaches at scale. HOW do we effectively reach hundreds of thousands or millions of children with integrated policies?

HOW do we continue to transition from good ideas to large-scale policies and programs that serve all children, especially the most vulnerable? And HOW do diverse actors operating at multiple levels collaborate more effectively?

One of the things we’ve learned is that our greatest asset is not our direct financial contribution. While over the past 50 years BvLF has worked in more than 50 countries and has invested over half a billion dollars of our own capital, we have leveraged many times that amount through additional funding from governments and other foundations. Since our inception, we have been thinking not only about how we invest – that is, identifying where the gaps are on the scaling pathway and seeking to fill those gaps – but also in ensuring that other actors can take up the baton and go that much further than us.

As part of our “blueprint for scale” investment decision-making progress, we regularly ask ourselves what we are learning about questions such as:

  1. How can we identify the most impactful and effective operating model at scale? We constantly look for ways to identify which specific, evidence-based components of programs are most impactful in communities with differing circumstances. We track which elements of urban, health, education, and social policies and practices for the early years are most effective. We are mindful that there are multiple pathways to scale, and that vertical and horizontal scaling processes need different approaches.
  2. How can we ensure effective intersectoral collaboration and coordination? Early childhood interventions implemented at scale need to span multiple sectors, such as nutrition, health, education, social protection, early learning and urban planning. We encounter different knowledge gaps, workforce gaps and implementation gaps in different countries. Effective collaboration takes time and effort to achieve.
  3. How can we develop effective short-term monitoring habits and integrated performance management systems? Operating early-years programs at scale requires good execution and flexibility. We need to identify the most meaningful indicators from hundreds of possibilities, build systems to analyze those indicators, enable course-correcting of processes or program content as needed, and integrate systems to enable children and caregivers to be referred towards the most appropriate support for their needs.
  4. How do we develop a robust understanding of costs across comparable interventions to better assess cost-effectiveness? To clearly understand what it takes to fund initiatives at scale, it is critical to try to disentangle the initial set-up costs of a program from the fixed and variable costs of running the intervention at scale with quality. It is important to identify ways to cost the various “program elements” so that we can look across comparable interventions in different geographies.
  5. How can we better integrate behavior change? Policies and programs achieve lasting impact only if they change human behaviors – of caregivers and service providers across a range of sectors, including health, nutrition, stimulation, discipline, mental health, use of public space and mobility. As behaviors are often deeply socially and culturally rooted, simplified and standardized approaches will not necessarily work across diverse contexts.  We try to find the right mix of replication and innovation, developing models that can be adapted while providing space for emerging local solutions.

Working with partners, we have documented answers to these questions in a range of formats, including:

The most important element of scaling up can, however, be documented only through anecdotes, such as the powerful story we were told by one of our BvLF colleagues from a few years back. The colleague was visiting a parenting program in north-eastern Brazil, knocking on doors with one of the program’s home visitors, at a time when the Zika virus was causing a birth defect called microcephaly. One new mother told him how happy she was to have been repeatedly visited by the home visitor because her friends and relatives, feeling embarrassed, had not been coming to visit her, and she had been feeling lonely and isolated. The home visitor had brought her what all humans need most: the feeling of being seen, valued and loved. The more tangible elements of scaling early-years programs – intersectoral collaboration, monitoring systems, and so on – ultimately serve the purpose of reaching all caregivers who need support, whether knocking on their doors directly or building systems that help them to gather together to share their concerns and challenges and overcome feelings of isolation. The biggest “how” question of all is how to scale up love and the human touch.


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