The U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, run by former Gates Foundation program manager Rajiv Shah, is trying to upgrade its approach to fighting global poverty by encouraging innovation.
In case you haven’t noticed, we are now in the Geek phase of global health and development.
In a new infographic, USAID attempts to provide more specific examples to illustrate some good examples of what it means by celebrating innovation as a means to improving people’s lives in poor countries.
Here’s a link to the USAID infographic, below is a screen grab:
I have to note that almost everybody today in the global health and development arena uses (overuses) and loves the word “innovation” — in part, I suspect, because it can mean almost anything and is something you feel obligated to support, simply by definition.
I mean, who would try to argue against innovation? In favor of stagnation or regression?
I may have sounded a bit like that yesterday, poking fun at a new Gates-funded BBC TV show on global health, but that’s not really what I meant. Here are some more thoughtful (older, but timeless) posts from Alanna Shaikh at UN Dispatch and at her personal blog Blood and Milk on the downside of too much trust in innovation.
With that caveat in mind, I do think innovation is both needed and worth celebrating in global health and development — so long as innovating is a means to an end definedby focusing on the needs of the poor, and not the end itself.