Addressing Health Care in West Africa Through Innovation

We target a multitude of health care issues in the countries where we work, including malaria, HIV/AIDS, maternal/child health, and reproductive health. We do this using participatory activities, local training, applied research, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E)

In Ghana, we currently provide monitoring and evaluation (M&E) assistance to USAID/Ghana’s Health, Nutrition and Population Office. We also provide assistance to implementing partners and support data collection and analysis for the Ghana Health Service (GHS). We work closely with health partners to build strong monitoring systems and analytical capacity.

The project, known as Evaluate, has been commended by USAID/Ghana for its management of a multi-dimensional activity, its ability to interface effectively with the ultimate client, the GHS, and the close working relationship between the local and home office teams.

Community health nurses entering DHIS2 data using a tablet application

The project, which is staffed only be local personnel, carries out operations research to inform programming and implements larger scale evaluations across activities. Evaluations have included a gender-focused interventions by three partners to improve nutrition and alleviate poverty in the Northern Region, a review of the effectiveness and scalability of five models of health care worker training, and an impact study on Presidential Management Initiative (PMI)-funded malaria for children under five.

MSI is also conducting orientations and training for health facility staff on use of the tablet-based tracker to capture on client transactions. Tablet use will be rolled out in three regions before the initiative is expanded nation-wide.

MSI also carries out numerous other data collection and assessments, including implementation of a nation-wide baseline (2015), midline (2017) and final (2019) facility-level survey. This survey assesses progress on over 100 service-related indicators across all major health programs. Finally, the project has worked extensively with research institutions to build organizational capacity to undertake critical research proposal writing.

In Zambia, MSI assisted in strengthening the country’s response to the global HIV/AIDS crisis through the USAID-funded Local Partners Capacity Building Program (LPCB). We partnered with 108 civil society organizations to counter the HIV pandemic by supporting the organizations that play a strong role in disseminating HIV prevention and treatment information at the community level through participatory activities.

Members of the New Masala Youth Development Theatre educate their peers about HIV/AIDs.

Our work with HIV, where infection rates among women are significantly higher than among men, and youth have low rates of being tested, required a special lens on both gender and youth. To include these crucial groups, we partnered with women and youth-led organizations that used peer-to-peer learning and local support, including community and school theater groups, youth-led and youth-focused organizations, and community support organizations.

One of several initiatives that the project supported was a partnership with the New Masala Youth Development Theatre. The youth-designed productions focused on encouraging their peers to get tested and on reducing stigmas related to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Learn more here.

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Using Fun and Games to Fight Corruption

Corruption in Ukraine is one of the country’s most widespread challenges affecting almost every facet of society, from health care, to transportation to education. In 2017, USAID selected MSI to implement its Support to Anti-Corruption Champion Institutions (SACCI) Project to support the government in targeted interventions across local and national levels.

SACCI recently participated in USAID’s “Mistechko” public outreach event in the city of Kryvyi Rih to discuss corruption and anti-corruption tools with citizens in a series of lively activities. The event was attended by over 600 local citizens. SACCI, along with its partner, the EIDOS Center for Political Studies and Analysis, designed three activities for the event to engage attendees of different age groups.

“Anti-corruption Mini-Debates” were enjoyed by adults who competed for prizes. Participants received complex questions on anti-corruption and responded with three answers, while EIDO analysts commented with information to increase their understanding of the topic. Some questions focused on current medical reform and the High Court’s ability to tackle high-level corruption.

SACCI also designed a magnet puzzle, “Charge against Corruption,” to teach children about corruption in a fun manner.

Finally, an interactive survey was given on “Which spheres have you faced the most corruption in?”

These activities contribute to the project’s overall goal of raising citizen awareness of corruption and working with champion institutions across the government to address it effectively.

MSI intends to continue highlighting anti-corruption issues via citizen engagement by participating in forthcoming events in Mykolaiv and Kramatorsk in September 2018.

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MSI Leading Critical Thinking on Scaling Up for Development

MSI is at the forefront of the conversation on helping to scale up successful development approaches, which could help to provide health care and education, for instance, on a wider scale across the globe. 

Larry Cooley, President Emeritus of MSI, and Jonathan Papoulidis, Executive Advisor on Fragile States at World Vision, coauthored an article on the importance of applying a scaling up approach to confront vulnerabilities in fragile states. The piece, featured in the flagship journal for the Society for International Development, Development, builds on MSI’s widely used framework for scaling development outcomes.

“Meeting the need for widespread, tangible and sustainable progress in fragile states is the standard by which our generation of development actors should be judged”, Cooley writes. To read the full article, click here.

Cooley and Papoulidis cite a number of examples to support the view that scaling-up approaches provide a valuable foundation for changing the piecemeal, one-off, and often non-strategic character of aid programs in fragile states.

MSI also recently convened representatives from 55 organizations – official donors, foundations, think tanks and NGOs – for the third annual convening of the Global Community of Practice on Scaling Up Development Outcomes. The session included presentation of new tools for scalability assessment; agreement on guidelines for monitoring and evaluation of scaling; tools for scaling through commercial pathways; a new framework for scaling in fragile states; and shared insights from experience scaling outcomes in education, health and agriculture.  At the conclusion of the event, Larry Cooley, who serves with Johannes Linn as curator of the Community of Practice observed, “it was quite extraordinary to see how far these discussions have progressed in three years”.  

Click here for additional information on MSI’s scaling up approach.


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Advancing Youth Economic Livelihoods in Lebanon

The Syrian refugee influx has exacerbated the lack of resources, adding pressure to already-strained municipalities. Lebanon’s North and Beqaa regions host some of the country’s most economically vulnerable communities. Within this tense and often challenging environment, MSI’s Lebanon Community Resilience Initiative (LCRI), funded by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, strategically partnered with local actors in the border area of Wadi Khaled. The goal is to provide idle and unemployed youth with skills and networks to help them re-enter the job market, reviving depressed areas deeply affected by armed violence.

Our project’s first partnership was with the well-established NGO, Naseej Committee, in Wadi Khaled.  It enabled them to train some of the most at-risk youth on marketable skills, such as cell phone repair, and life skills such as conflict mitigation and entrepreneurship.

Marginalization of Lebanese youth in light of the Syrian conflict has been a major driver of tension in the community; many Lebanese beneficiaries have felt a sense of unfair competition resulting from vocational trainings provided for Syrians. For this reason, we took the initiative to design activities that ensured interventions did not marginalize either group – setting our project apart from other programs.

The results have been impressive.  Seventeen of 30 youth participants were generating income by the end of the project.

“I was so desperate, considering to be a suicide bomber to secure money allowing my family to have a decent life, but thank God I came through this opportunity before committing anything that would have shamed my family for all their lifetime,” said one 24-year old Lebanese male participant.

“I was about to give up on myself,” said a Syrian participant whose family of 12 fled to Wadi Khaled when the conflict started. “This project has allowed me to support my family while working from the [refugee] shelter. It made me realize that I can make a difference even with the minimum resources I have.”

MSI’s LCRI project aims to strengthen the ability of Lebanon’s most vulnerable communities to cope with the destabilizing effects of the Syrian conflict by strengthening youth empowerment and civil participation, promoting peaceful alternatives to violence, reducing the isolation and marginalization of communities, and supporting moderate actors.  

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Helping Partners in Lebanon Combat Environmental Challenges

Lebanon is a country rich in biodiversity. Its complex eco-system has spawned a growing awareness of the value and importance of environmental preservation. The spillover from the civil war in Syria, however, has had a profound impact, and has resulted in the over-use and degradation of its natural resources.

The resulting buildup of frustration and tension was most dramatically exemplified by the garbage crisis in 2015, which led to massive popular protests.

While Lebanon’s civil society is considered among the most vibrant in the Middle East, the efficacy of its civil society organizations (CSOs) to help meet these increased demands or influence decision makers has been limited.

MSI’s USAID-funded project, ‘Building Alliances for Local Advancement, Development and Investment – Capacity Building” (BALADI CAP), is working to help CSOs and municipalities assist the government address the negative impact that these demands are having on public services and the environment.

One such example is T.E.R.R.E. Liban, a small family-run CSO dedicated to the creation and implementation of environmental preservation and education projects since 1995.  This organization has carried out valuable work, including cleanup of beaches along the Lebanese shoreline, and promoting the importance of recycling in schools.  However, it was unable to have long-term impact and financial sustainability.

Through its participation in our project’s intensive 2-year program, T.E.R.R.E. Liban has strengthened many organizational procedures, and conducted long-term strategic planning for the first time in its history. As a result of its strengthened capacities, it is now a key leader in the environmental and solid waste management movement, and has been able to turn individual and fragmented programming efforts into sustainable achievements with national impact.  It has also positioned itself as one of our legacy institutions to continue to lead advocacy efforts after project close-out in 2018.

BALADI CAP has worked with more than 50 civil society organizations to build capacity through training and other support, particularly in the areas of internal governance, financial management and monitoring and evaluation.

To learn more about our work in Lebanon, read the story, “U.S. Ambassador Recognizes Lebanon Community Resilience Initiative

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