Development that Works
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    This blog highlights effective ideas in the fight against poverty and exclusion, and analyzes the impact of development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • A Constant Pursuit of Development: Lessons from the IDB to the World



    Exchange of ideas

    Development Effectiveness Overview | Website: | PDF

    At the Inter-American Development Bank we are devoted to being the best development partner for Latin America and the Caribbean. To that end we ensure that every project meets the highest quality standards in each stage of the project: design, implementation and completion.

    In 2014 we approved 105 loans for the public sector, for a total of US$11 billion and 63 loans for the private sectors with a value of US$2.8 billion. At the end of every year, we make a conscious effort to pause and reflect on what worked and didn’t work in our operations. We lay out all of these lessons in the IDB’s  corporate results report the “Development Effectiveness Overview,” commonly known among my colleagues as the DEO. We at the IDB love acronyms!

    The DEO is rich with pragmatic details on the way we operate, such as insights on how we foster collaboration across IDB sector experts to tackle the complex challenges of the region, as well as multiple examples and learnings from specific IDB projects.

    For instance, to showcase what we mean by ensuring that every project meets the highest quality standards during design, we provide specifics on a Peruvian project that aims to empower farmers in the country to negotiate prices through mobile technology.  This project is based on a research study in which cellphones were provided to Peruvian agricultural workers so that they might have access to price data.  The study shows that farmers who benefitted from this service sold crops at prices 13% higher on average than those who did not receive the service.

    During 2014, we disbursed $8.6 billion in support of 633 public sector projects and $1.5 billion in support of 220 private sector projects. The pages of the DEO are filled with lessons from IDB’s monitoring of projects, including project-specific lessons. 

    DEO-2014 Cover English

    For example, we feature the story of how, with IDB support, the Bahamas’ Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) benefitted from monitoring non-revenue water.  Tracking of this indicator allowed for a novel Performance-Based-Contract modality which proved a valuable mechanism for results. To date, the NRW is already below its established end-of-project target.

    Last year was also an important year for the IDB because we revamped our tools used to measure the effectiveness of our projects at closure, known as the Project Completion Report System (PCR). To ensure the effectiveness of this tool we ran a pilot with 12 projects to further refine the tool in preparation for its launch and use by our specialists. Among lessons from 12 piloted projects, we portray the success of the Emergency Response for the Containment of Cholera in Haiti. The success of IDB’s flash operation via this emergency grant crucially depended on the flexibility and speed with which alternative procurement networks were accessed and managed by our international aid partner UNICEF.

    In the DEO we continue last year’s initiative of talking openly about failure.  Learning from failure conveys an array of opportunities to think outside the box to create new solutions for development and improve our products, processes, and services.  To this end, we document a series of five failures and how we have learned from them.  For example, we have learned that developing the tourism sector through infrastructure is not enough.  Our work in the sector is now accompanied by a focus on fostering nearby competitive tourism services and experiences by actively involving the private sector and local communities.  In turn, this combined approach allows for more sustainable development.

    In the final chapter of the DEO, we provide lessons from our impact evaluations. We have for the first time, provided a bird’s eye corporate view of our efforts in evaluation.  In our quest for attribution and understanding the true causalities of development, we present 12 impact evaluations that were finalized in 2014.  To name a few, amongst them is the demonstrated success of Argentina in developing Salta’s Tourism Sector, as well as evidence on how a youth employment program in the Dominican Republic has led to a 20% reduction in pregnancies among 16-29 year olds.

    Our goal is to have the lessons described in the DEO benefit not only our own work, but that of other development practitioners, in order to improve lives in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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