Many low- and middle-income countries are focused on developing strong, self-sustaining systems that support improved outcomes in health, education and nutrition. But systems strengthening is a complex business with a dizzying number of implementation challenges.
The people working to strengthen these systems — government officials, civil society leaders and social innovators — understand the challenges and realities of the local context, but they often lack opportunities to systematically share their experiences or tap into implementation knowledge that their peers in other countries may have. They may have access to global guidance and foundational evidence on what needs to be done, but are less likely to have access to practical “how-to” knowledge that can help them make faster progress toward their goals.
R4D uses an innovative collaborative learning approach that brings people together who face common challenges to systematically share and adapt knowledge and produce new ideas that enable them to successfully tackle practical yet complex issues and achieve their goals.
The collaborative learning approach goes beyond static information-sharing between peers by providing a structured learning process in which practitioners set the agenda and technical priorities, and then co-develop solutions to their common challenges. This approach avoids some of the obstacles created when technical approaches are imposed on country practitioners by the development community, rather than listening, learning and capturing the valuable tacit knowledge of practitioners.
Through in-person workshops and virtual exchanges, practitioners exchange experience on what has worked, what has not worked and why, and work to co-develop practical tools and knowledge products. This leads to increased ownership and uptake of the knowledge and best practices by those who were part of the process.
We are working closely with our partners around the globe to employ collaborative learning to address challenges, such as:
- How countries can strengthen their health care systems and accelerate progress toward universal health coverage (UHC). For example, the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage, brings policymakers from 27 countries together to address issues ranging from strategic purchasing to stakeholder communications. And the African Collaborative for Health Financing Solutions is working with African country and regional stakeholders to help them address UHC financing challenges.
- How countries transitioning from Gavi support can maintain or increase programmatic gains and successfully transition to fully self-financing their immunization programs.
- How to expand access to and utilization of primary care for the most vulnerable populations. Through global efforts like the Primary Health Care Performance Initiative, we bring together country policymakers, health system managers, practitioners, advocates and other development partners to catalyze improvements in primary health care in low- and middle-income countries through better measurement and knowledge-sharing.
- How health and education innovators can co-create solutions to common challenges, adapt promising practices and experiment with new approaches. R4D’s Center for Health Market Innovations and Center for Education Innovations both support large and engaged communities of innovators.
- How countries can strengthen and support the early childhood workforce to provide children and their families with quality early childhood services. To support peer learning in this area, R4D co-founded the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative (ECWI).
- How national education systems can develop youth skills for employability in the 21st century economy.
- How country governments and development partners can increase the use of results data to inform critical development decisions.