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Signs of progress

Ruth Levine 8 December 2021

Silhouette of Indian construction workers on scaffolding in Delhi. Credit: Johnny Greig

Dear Friends,

Imagine you are a construction worker in Delhi. You travel from your home village to the city each day to work. This year, along with the waves of COVID-19 came worries about your family’s health and losing income during the lockdowns. You likely do not know you are eligible for benefits under the Building and Other Construction Workers Act – for health, education, maternal, and pension support. And you are just one of 10 million potential beneficiaries who either don’t know they qualify or can’t jump through the bureaucratic hoops to access the resources, which total $400 million (3K crore rupees) in Delhi alone. Government money is left unspent; families are left struggling.

IDinsight is working with Indus Action to fill this gap. A legal empowerment organization, Indus Action seeks to protect the rights of vulnerable communities and connect people to resources to which they are entitled. Using data science, we are helping Indus Action identify qualified workers and predict their eligibility for benefits. As a result of this work, Indus Action and government counterparts can more efficiently target outreach so people can obtain vital benefits and the government can fulfill the public trust in a smoother, faster, and less expensive way.

In 2021, the world faced overlapping threats of disease, economic disruption, climate change, political upheaval, and disinformation.

We’ve seen governments and civil society struggle to marshal responses based on scientific evidence. There are days when the problems seem too big to solve.

But in our own work, we’ve seen signs of progress that inspire hope. It’s progress that comes when solutions-oriented leaders in government, NGOs, and philanthropies use rigorous, leading-edge methods in data collection and analysis to inform their decisions. For example:

  • In the Philippines, we are working closely with the Department of Health to help them understand how to support health workers in providing up-to-date health information to rapidly address community needs.
  • In Nigeria, we evaluated the impact of a promising program to increase the uptake of childhood vaccines. The evaluation found such a positive result that the organization implementing the program, New Incentives, was on the GiveWell list of top charities for two years running.
  • In Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, we worked with Rising Academies, a network supporting learning in private and public schools, and Echidna Giving, a philanthropy dedicated to girls’ education, to study the gender-specific effects of school closures, and the availability of ed-tech options to support distance learning. These recommendations will influence how educators approach closing the COVID-19 learning gap.

In each of these projects, and many more, the IDinsight team members – now 200 people strong, most from the countries in which we work – bring the power of data and evidence into the service of governments and social impact organizations.

With deep contextual knowledge and tools that combine practicality and rigor, we’re able to make meaningful, direct contributions that improve people’s lives and livelihoods.

Our work is possible because of this dedicated team, our remarkable, values-aligned partners, and the financial support of many institutions and individuals. We are grateful to all our partners and look forward to continued service.

In early 2022, we’ll be publishing a digital overview of the impact we’ve had over 10 years and what we’ve learned from our signature approach to decision support. We’ll also share our ambitious strategic framework for 2022-26, and some exciting announcements about new initiatives. Sign up for our newsletter to keep up-to-date, and feel free to reach out at any time with questions and ideas.

Wishing you a healthy, gratitude-filled, COVID-free conclusion to 2021, and a promising start to the new year,