Regional/Global

Learning From Failure 2022

In 2019 and 2020, CARE published Learning from Failures reports to better understand common problems that projects faced during implementation. Deliberately looking for themes in failure has helped CARE as an organization and provides insight on what is improving and what still needs troubleshooting. This report builds on the previous work to show what we most need to address in our programming now.
As always, it is important to note that while each evaluation in this analysis cited specific failures and areas for improvement in the project it reviewed, that does not mean that the projects themselves were failures. Of the 72 evaluations in this analysis, only 2 showed projects that failed to deliver on more than 15% of the project goals. The rest were able to succeed for at least 85% of their commitments. Rather, failures are issues that are within CARE’s control to improve that will improve impact for the people we serve.
To fully improve impact, we must continue to include failures in the conversation. We face a complex future full of barriers and uncertainties. Allowing an open space to discuss challenges or issues across the organization strengthens CARE’s efforts to fight for change. Qualitative analysis provides critical insights that quantitative data does not provide insight into the stories behind these challenges to better understand how we can develop solutions.
CARE reviewed a total of 72 evaluations from 65 projects, with 44 final reports published between February 2020 and September 2021 and 28 midterm reports published between March 2018 and October 2020. Seven projects had both midterm and final evaluations at the time of this analysis. For ease of analysis, as in previous years, failures were grouped into 11 categories (see Annex A, the Failures Codebook for details).

Results
The most common failures in this year’s report are:
• Understanding context—both in the design phase of a project and refining the understanding of context and changing circumstances throughout the whole life of a project, rather than a concentrated analysis phase that is separate from project implementation. For example, an agriculture project that built it’s activities assuming that all farmers would have regular internet access, only to find that fewer than 10% of project participants had smartphones and that the network in the area is unreliable, has to significantly redesign both activities and budgets.
• Sustainability—projects often faced challenges with sustainability, particularly in planning exit strategies. Importantly, one of the core issues with sustainability is involving the right partners at the right time. 47% of projects that struggled with sustainability also had failures in partnership. For example, a project that assumed governments would take over training for project participants once the project closed, but that failed to include handover activities with the government at the local level, found that activities and impacts are not set up to be sustainable.
• Partnerships—strengthening partnerships at all levels, from government stakeholders to community members and building appropriate feedback and consultation mechanisms, is the third most common weakness across projects. For example, a project that did not include local private sector actors in its gender equality trainings and assumes that the private sector would automatically serve women farmers, found that women were not getting services or impact at the right level.
Another core finding is that failures at the design phase can be very hard to correct. While projects improve significantly between midterm and endline, this is not always possible. There are particular kinds of failure that are difficult to overcome over time. Major budget shortfalls, a MEAL plan that does not provide quality baseline data, and insufficient investments in understanding context over the entire life of a project are less likely to improve over time than partnerships and overall MEAL processes.
Some areas also showed marked improvements after significant investments. Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning (MEAL), Gender, Human Resources, and Budget Management are all categories that show improvements over the three rounds of learning from failures analysis. This reflects CARE’s core investments in those areas over the last 4 years, partly based on the findings and recommendations from previous Learning From Failure reports. Specifically, this round of data demonstrates that the organization is addressing gender-related issues. Not only are there fewer failures related to gender overall, the difference between midterm and final evaluations in gender displays how effective these methods are in decreasing the incidence of “failures” related to engaging women and girls and looking at structural factors that limit participation in activities.
Another key finding from this year’s analysis is that projects are improving over time. For the first time, this analysis reviewed mid-term reports in an effort to understand failures early enough in the process to adjust projects. Projects report much higher rates of failure at midterm than they do at final evaluation. In the projects where we compared midline to endline results within the same project, a significant number of failures that appeared in the mid-term evaluation were resolved by the end of the project. On average, mid-term evaluations reflect failures in 50% of possible categories, and final evaluations show failures in 38% of possible options. Partnerships (especially around engaging communities themselves), key inputs, scale planning and MEAL are all areas that show marked improvement over the life of the project.
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The crisis we can still avert

By September of 2022, the global food crisis had gotten so extreme that 205.1 million people urgently need humanitarian food assistance just to survive. Tragically, if we do nothing, the crisis could grow by another 620.9 million people in the next 6 months. That is the crisis we can still avert. Investing in food production, increasing resilience, and functioning markets can stave off this crisis if we act fast.

A recent report from Gro Intelligence and CRU Group estimates that the impacts from the Ukraine crisis on nitrogen fertilizer availability in the global agriculture system will lead to a total loss of 72 trillion calories of food produced in 2022 alone. That loss would cause 620.9 million MORE people who are already struggling to meet their basic food needs to lose at least one more meal a day for the next 6 months. This is the crisis that is coming—growing the current crisis by more than three times higher the 205.1 million people already experiencing food crisis.

Gender inequality will play a significant role in this crisis. Based on current trends in gender equality and food security, 332.8 million of these people will be women. That means 44.7 million more women than men could miss one meal a day for the next 6 months. Women could miss 8.5 billion more meals than men.

This is not a foregone conclusion. We can still act to prevent the worst of the crisis. The number of calories lost is only part of the story. Food insecurity is as much as story of inequality as it is of food production. Read More...

VSLA By the Numbers: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Impact and ROI of VSLAs

Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) have been a foundational programmatic approach at CARE since 1991. Since then, CARE has helped over 13.7 million people join savings groups. The savings group model has been adopted and adapted by a variety of organizations globally. Through this report, we will examine the social and financial effects and returns of savings groups as well as how groups affected members’ resilience to COVID-19. The results gave an overview of the financial return on investment (ROI), group economic outcomes, savings groups costs, and individual and household effects for savings groups both inside and outside of CARE.

In order to calculate a return on investment, the financial benefit for a typical participant over three years was considered as well as the financial benefits for a replicated VSLA for two years related to the cost that the donor/implementer spends to set up and oversee the VSLA for its first cycle. Using internal CARE data such as budgets, evaluation, and impact reports, the average ROI of costs to establish a saving group was between 7:1 and 20:1. For every $1 invested by CARE, there is evidence for the savings of a typical VSLA participant to increase between $7 and $20. For the average VSLA participant, median income increased by $9.35 (+/- $0.55 USD) within the first year of joining the group for each $1 USD invested. Additionally, average income increased by $18.85 (+/-$1.15 USD) within five years of each $1 USD invested. Using industry data and internal CARE data, this analysis showed that for every $250 USD invested three net new children attended school.

The financial effect of a VSLA appears to outlast the formal lifecycle of the group. Evaluation of VSLAs as they phased out found that the return on savings (ROS) was 50% (+/-10%) during the supported formal lifecycle of the group and decreased to around 35% (+/-19%) after the VSLA is phased out. However, the positive outcomes and impact of participating in VSLAs continue even after project phase out. Members continue saving and getting benefits. Share value even increase for 57% (+/-13%) of groups in the available data.
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Women at the last mile: How investments in gender equality have kept health systems running during COVID-19

Even before COVID-19, investments in health systems—and especially female health workers—were too low. In 2019 the world had a gap of 18 million health workers. Two years and fifteen million deaths later, we have at least 26 million fewer health workers than we need. , This leaves us severely underprepared for future pandemics and other major shocks to the health system, including conflict and climate change. We must invest in health systems that don’t just meet the needs of today, but that are also resilient in the face of future shocks.

Pandemic preparedness requires gender equality: equal recognition, support, and fair pay for ALL health workers. Globally, 70% of health workers are women, but half of their work is unpaid. We must do more to support these health workers. The glimmers of success in COVID-19 built on previous investments in women health workers, their skills, and equality in health systems. Pre-existing investments in equality helped systems respond to COVID-19. Increased investments will build better resilience for the crises that come next.

This report highlights case studies and lessons learned from 20 countries during COVID-19. The evidence shows that we must invest in gender equality in health systems to prepare for and respond to the next pandemic. Health worker training is not enough. Focusing only on health workers working within the formal health system is not enough. We need to work for equality.

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Recipe for Response: What We Know About the Next Global Food Crisis, and How to Fight it

The genesis of the present hunger crisis goes back farther than February 2022 and is due to a combination of global and localized factors. Globally, climate change has compromised agricultural livelihoods and led to displacement, especially in regions like the Horn of Africa and Central America’s Dry Corridor, where famers struggle to produce yields that meet the needs of local markets. The global economic fallouts associated with COVID-19, and inadequate social safety nets, have led to record unemployment and growing poverty—especially for women and women-led households (UN Women 2021)—so that even where food is available, high prices put basic items out of reach for many. Armed conflict is also driving food insecurity, for example by making it difficult for farmers to cultivate their lands, or damaging or disrupting vital agricultural infrastructure—such as transportation, storage and distribution sites—and reducing access to markets and assistance.
Women and girls are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity and related shocks. Gender norms and roles mean that women are often responsible for their households’ food security, including shopping for and preparing food, yet they might also be the ones to eat “last and least” in their household. Women are also more likely to be excluded from decision-making when it comes
to addressing hunger in their communities (CARE 2020). These types of gendered imbalances hurt entire communities: in a 2021 assessment in Sudan, CARE found that 82% of people living in female-headed households reported recently skipping a meal, compared with 56% of people living in male-headed households. Read More...

CARE in the Pacific PARTNERSHIPS RESEARCH REPORT

Partnership is central to CARE International’s global vision where poverty has been overcome and all people live with dignity and security. CARE International’s partnerships in the Pacific are carried out through CARE Australia managed country offices in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Vanuatu, and through the CARE in the Pacific team (which sits under CARE Australia) which manage partnerships in countries where CARE Australia does not have a country office. This currently includes Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu. CARE Australia is in the process of developing its Pacific strategy. Central to this process is understanding its approaches to partnership and supporting local leadership with its partners in Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu. CARE in the Pacific commissioned this Partnerships Research to document its partnership approach and reflect key contributions and gaps to advancing localisation for its partners in the Pacific. The research was conducted during September and November 2021 and involved CARE in the Pacific and 12 partners in Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu.

What this research report does
⮚ Documents CARE in the Pacific’s partnership approach and the key features of the partnership that are supporting locally led outcomes
⮚ Employs a qualitative approach drawing on the voice of partners through feedback captured during interviews, and secondary documentation related to CARE’s partnership and localisation practice, and current sector discourse on localisation to demonstrate how CARE in the Pacific is supporting localisation, and approaches hindering locally led outcomes
⮚ Identifies actions and approaches for CARE in the Pacific for charting a more strategic course for partnership and localisation by building on existing positive practices and considering areas for improving partnership practice to better support localisation

Key findings
Partnership findings
⮚ CARE’s partnership can be characterised by long-term and short-term partnerships. The long-term partnership is guided by a high-level partnership agreement with sub-agreements developed for project or program specific engagement. Capacity strengthening is focused on supporting organisation-wide learning and growth. The short-term partnership usually begins with CARE either securing or identifying a funding opportunity. Based on consultation and shared objectives, agreement is sought to work together and co-design proposals/projects. A sub agreement guides the engagement. Capacity strengthening (informed by due diligence assessments) is largely focused on ensuring partners can meet CARE’s program quality, administrative and financial requirements, including donor compliance requirements.
⮚ Both long-term and short-term partnerships are contributing to positive change, in advancing CARE’s strategic objective of achieving greater impact through partnerships, and for partners, helping to achieve positive change at organisational and community levels. Having both short-term and long-term partnerships allow for flexibility in the partnership and as partnering is also influenced by the amount of funding CARE has available to support partners. A long-term partnering approach would better position CARE to achieve its broader partnership goals for transformed partnerships in the Pacific for reduced poverty and inequality. A key consideration is for CARE to articulate how it will support partners who want to transition to long-term partnerships, the strategy to engage long-term partnerships and with which organisations it will establish such partnerships.
⮚ CARE’s approach is grounded in supporting partners to achieve their mandate and objectives, working within partners priorities, and partners strengths. Partners perceive CARE is taking a partner led approach that is based on shared values and complementary vision, and a strong commitment to partnership. This approach together with the provision of quality technical support in gender, disaster, and humanitarian programming is helping establish CARE as a partner of choice. This is noted by partners as a core strength of CARE’s partnership approach and an area that CARE should continue to build on.
⮚ CARE has strong foundational policies, processes, and principles in place for partnership, but these are not being consistently applied outside of project implementation. CARE has strong processes and principles in place for partnering but these are not being fully maximised, with the focus more on assessing project delivery and results and not partnership outcomes. This approach to partnerships is potentially hindering achievement of more meaningful partnership outcomes, including more effective programming. There is a desire from partners to have more conversations and participate in processes that are focused on assessing the partnership.
⮚ CARE is directly investing in partnerships in several ways: recruitment of dedicated staff and consultants to the CARE in the Pacific team including a Partnerships Coordinator, Gender, and Inclusion Senior Advisor (Fiji), Program Quality Coordinator, Finance & Grants Coordinator and Project Coordinators. CARE is also demonstrating ongoing financial investment in partners by mobilising consecutive funding with the majority of its partners. It will be important for CARE to consider and plan for future resourcing that may be needed to support a long-term partnering approach, acknowledging that CARE largely operates on project specific funding which directly influences the parameters of support CARE is able to provide to partners as this support has to fit within project budgets. Read More...

She Told Us So (Again)

COVID-19’s impacts around the world are worse than they were in September 2020. Far from a return to “normal,” women and girls CARE works with around the world are saying that their situation continues to get worse as COVID-19 drags on amid other crises. Fati Musa in Nigeria says, “Women have suffered a lot during the pandemic, and we are not yet recovering from this hardship.” 55% of women were reporting gaps in their livelihoods as a priority in 2020. Now that number is 71%. For food insecurity, the number has jumped from 41% to 66%.
Since March of 2020, CARE—and more importantly, the women CARE works with—have been warning that COVID-19 would create special challenges for women and girls, above and beyond what men and boys would face. Tragically, these women were exactly right. What they predicted even before the WHO declared a pandemic has come true. In September 2020, CARE published She Told Us So, which showed women's and men's experiences in the pandemic so far. In March 2022, updated data shows that the cost of ignoring women continues to grow. For more than 22,000 people CARE has spoken to, COVID-19 is far from over. In fact, the COVID-19 situation has gotten worse, not just for women, but for men, too.
Ignoring the voices of women, girls, and other historically marginalized groups has worsened the situation for everyone—not just for women. Men are more than twice as likely to report challenges around livelihoods, food insecurity, and access to health care as they were in 2020, and are three times more likely to report mental health challenges—although they are still only two-thirds as likely as women to report mental health as a priority. As women burn through their coping strategies and reserves, men are also facing bigger impacts over time.

Women have stepped up to the challenge—especially when they get support from each other and opportunities to lead. They are sharing information, preventing COVID-19, and using their resources to support other members of their communities. 89% of women in savings groups in Yemen are putting some of their savings to help others. Women are stepping into leadership roles, "We are women leaders in emergency . . . we have the capacity to say: I have a voice and a vote, I am not going to stay stagnant . . . (participant, Colombia). In Niger, women are saying, “Now we women are not afraid to defend ourselves when a decision does not suit us. We will say it out loud because our rights are known and we know the ways and means to claim our rights.”

Those accomplishments are impressive, but they come at a cost. The constant struggle for their rights, and for even the most basic necessities, is taking its toll. Women are almost twice as likely to report mental health challenges as they were in 2020. As one woman in Iraq describes, “If any opportunity appeared, the man would be the favorite . . . This psychologically affected many women, as they turned to household work which included preparing food and cleaning only.”

To understand these challenges and create more equitable solutions, CARE invests in listening to women, men, and people from marginalized groups to understand the challenges they face, what they need, and the ways in which they lead through crisis. This report represents the voices of more than 22,000 people in 23 countries since September of 2020.
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Don’t Leave Them Behind: Global Food Policies Continue to Fail Women (December 2021)

811 million people in the world are going hungry, half a million of whom are on the brink of starvation. Clearly, current approaches are simply not enough to meet the scale of the crisis we are facing. If we continue to do what we have always done, we will continue to see the same problem: people going to bed hungry. We must find better solutions to prevent and end hunger—especially if we are going to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030.

One of the first things we can do is consider who is going hungry. Using the term “people” hides part of the problem: gender inequality. Globally, women are 10% more likely to go hungry than men, and that gap is growing. In Somalia, for example, men are eating smaller meals; women are skipping meals altogether. We see this inequality play out at the international level, too—global solutions consistently ignore women, their rights, and the critical role women play in food systems.

Of 84 global policies and plans designed to address hunger released between September 2020 and December 2021, only 4% refer to women as leaders who should be part of the solution or provide funding to support them. 39% overlook women entirely. This is unacceptable. Ending hunger will take everyone’s talents, opinions, and work. It requires promoting equality, respecting rights, and truly listening to the people who are on the frontlines of the problem. Local food producers and leaders—especially women—must be a core part of the solution.
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Fast and Fair Vaccine Update August to October 2021

CARE's Fast and Fair initiative supports countries to equitably deliver COVID-19 vaccines through four pillars: Advocate, Facilitate, Protect and Mobilize.
CARE has identified 22* countries (and counting ) with strong capacity, partnerships, and readiness to scale.
As of October 2021: 126.2 million people have been vaccinated in areas where CARE is providing meaningful and significant promotion for vaccination rollout. We have also supported mass media messages promoting vaccines to 263 million people. Read More...

Gender Gaps in Vaccines November 2021

COVID-19 vaccinations are quickly becoming a story of inequality. Gender inequality is a critical part of this story. In 22 of 24 countries where CARE has data, women are less likely to be vaccinated and less likely to feel vaccines are safe.

There are massive local and global gaps in who can get vaccinated. Only 4.5% of people in low-income countries are vaccinated, and 79% of vaccinations have been in wealth countries. Tragically, wealth and geography are just two factors that skew access to vaccines. Another is gender. In many low and middle-income countries, women are less likely to get COVID-19 vaccines than men are. This compounds gender inequality women are already facing in health and decision-making Read More...

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