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From potential to progress

Mallika Ahluwalia 14 December 2022

An IDinsight surveyor conducts an interview on maternal and child health as part of a survey for an Indian state government department ©IDinsight

Dear Friends,

It’s been a big year for us at IDinsight. We completed ten years in India: ten years of enabling evidence-informed decision-making to improve people’s lives.

As we celebrated this milestone, we took a step back to look at the solutions we have worked on to accelerate social impact. We sought to understand the effectiveness of our approach, identifying the projects with the highest impact and analysing the value of services we have provided to our regional partners. We hope to use this data to guide our own internal reflections on how we can continually improve our services and decision-making.

Over the last ten years, we have improved more than 8.6 million lives and disbursed more than 121 million USD to more effective social solutions in India. Our teams have contributed to finding solutions to some of the most pressing challenges to improve lives, offering tailor-made solutions to our partners and clients.

We saw that our embedded learning partnership model contributed to the highest scope of impact for our partners. These partnerships allow us to not commit to a particular methodology upfront, but help us be responsive and flexible in our approach, provide tailor-made solutions, and give us room to solve the real-time challenges our partners face. An example of this is our embedded evidence unit in an Indian state government working on improving women’s and girls’ outcomes. The intersecting socio-economic crises posed by COVID-19 have further highlighted the structural gaps in improving health outcomes for women, especially in peri-urban/rural regions in India. IDinsight is providing technical expertise to measure critical indicators for women’s empowerment, creating frameworks for evaluations, capacity-building modules, and program design for the respective departments. We estimate that this engagement can improve about 400,000 to 600,000 lives annually and will enable programmatic pivots to make state interventions more efficient and cost-effective. In the future, the data analysis and frameworks generated by the IDinsight evidence unit can track other women’s empowerment indicators like education and employment.

One of the continuing trends we have observed across the last decade is a growing appetite amongst leaders for evidence and data solutions that better serve citizens. An example is our partnership with Indus Action ​​to build an outreach system connecting people in India with government welfare schemes. India has many government welfare programs designed to transfer money to some of its most vulnerable people. But, lack of citizen engagement and digital literacy along with limited dispersal infrastructure has led to underspent government funds; for example, only 40% of INR 50,000 crores had been spent as of Sept 2021 in a fund dedicated to the welfare of construction workers. IDinsight has been creating a system to help Indus Action identify which benefits citizens might be eligible for through a combination of streamlined surveys, machine learning, evaluations (in 2023), and a dashboard to enhance citizens’ access to scheme-related information. This solution can help facilitate citizens’ engagement and sets up user-friendly interfaces for applications to increase the registration and access to benefits of vulnerable communities.

Our team in India has grown to 115 in the last decade, and it has been our consistent effort to ensure that IDinsight’s impact-oriented culture remains at the center of our work. The diversity of our portfolio across sectors, ongoing partnerships, and steady growth in the region illustrate our ability to garner insights and respond to the increasing demand for evidence-based decision-making in larger policy reform. As we look forward to the coming year, we plan to sharpen our focus on high-impact project opportunities, deploy new solutions and expand our partnerships across the Indian development ecosystem to deliver sustainable solutions collaboratively.

On a personal note, it has been my great pleasure to lead the team since early 2021. In the coming year, I will transition from this role to a new global position at IDinsight. We have initiated the search for a new India Regional Director and plan to welcome a unique perspective to our work in the region. Are you excited about using evidence to impact the development space in India? Apply here or forward the link to someone who can help us further this work.

Onwards and upwards,