Innovation in the ICDS Program
Myself and a small team of colleagues recently compiled an innovation toolkit for the ICDS program in MP – you can see them below (Hindi and English versions). To design this, we first interviewed innovators working in the field of maternal and child health, to ask them about what challenges they faced in design, implementation and scale up. Michelle Mehta compiled some of the key insights from these interviews - below....
Essentially, the consensus is that innovations should be focused, based on evidence of what is needed and what works, and built into an existing and well-functioning system. In the case of Mobile Crèches, the focus was simple – allow mothers to bring their babies or young children to work and provide them with a safe and fruitful environment. The “existing and well-functioning system” is construction sites run by private builder foundations. The key to their success was the partnerships forged with these builder foundations and contractors which, ultimately, led to some sites taking full ownership of the crèches, and Mobile Crèches only providing supportive services and training. Of course, this didn’t happen overnight, but rather through a lot of advocacy, perseverance, and patience.
In another example, Digital Green generated the evidence for their concept of bringing audio-visual approaches to the agriculture sector through continuous studies in small pilot phases. By rigorously proving that their concept worked, they piqued the interest of the government to join in their efforts – fostering ownership and high-level support.
These two examples highlight the importance of working incrementally to build evidence, refine the approach and garner support, to ensure that the innovation can integrate into existing institutions and practices. We hope that the toolkit fosters many more such innovations within MP!
For more details about innovation and public health, please read previous blog posts here (for an interview with a public health user centred design researcher) and here - (for a compilation of the best available innovation toolkits).