How can you get your health innovation to benefit more women and babies in Ethiopia, Nigeria and India?
published 12 December 2014
published 12 December 2014
“Scale up is a craft not a science”
Quote from the IDEAS qualitative study of scale-up in Ethiopia, Nigeria and India
Unsurprisingly there is no ‘magic bullet’ approach. Implementation projects need to plan for scale-up from the start, use multiple methods – all requiring time, energy and resources – and work closely with other organisations and government to achieve scale-up.
Donors need to support and fund implementers to catalyse scale-up so it is supported from the start of a project and implementaters have the resources to support scale-up work. When donors work on the ground brokering relationships with government and coordinating international organisations, scale-up is more likely.
But most importantly, the skill of achieving scale-up is a craft, not a science: support from a powerful government figure can be as important as having a good intervention and strong evidence. Country politics are very important to scale-up and implementers and donors need to work on building effective relationships with government officials.
These findings come from a paper I recently published (read a summary) based on 150 ‘qualitative interviews’ (meaning we asked respondents open ended questions and encouraged them talk in detail of about the issues they felt were important) with government, project implementers, UN agencies, experts from Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uttar Pradesh, India.
Based on this evidence, here are a few checklist tips implementers and donors can use to catalyse the scale-up of their successful innovations. We have also produced research briefs on this topic for Ethiopia, Northeast Nigeria and Uttar Pradesh, India.
Designing an innovation to be scalable isn’t easy. It’s difficult to find a balance between innovations that are very effective but need a lot of money and time – and simpler, cheaper ones that governments can afford to scale-up. Ask yourself, is your innovation:
Dedicating staff, time and resources to scale-up as a central part of a project plan is important. Do research early in the project to help plan for scale-up. You may want to look at:
Although donors want their innovations scaled up, work to achieve this is usually added on when a project ends. Supporting scale-up work from the start of a project and ensuring implementers have the resources they need to carry out the work will help to catalyse scale-up.
Broker relationships with government and help coordinate with other international organisations working in that particular country.
Not all of innovations can and will be scaled-up but these checklist tips are based on in-depth qualitative evidence which I hope will help implementers and donors to get their successful innovations scaled up to benefit more women and newborns.