A Cultural Shift in Using Data to Improve Child Outcomes in Moldova
Out-migration of adults looking for increased opportunities, coupled with the influx of refugees from Ukraine as a result of Russia's re-invasion of that country, in addition to other contextual factors, resulted in a crisis of child welfare in Moldova. Child poverty rates were close to a shocking 25%, and use of data by local decision-makers to improve child outcomes was rare-to-non-existent. USAID/Moldova's Data for Impact (D4I) activity harnessed the power of locally-led CLA to build momentum around bright spots in the local system to improve child outcomes through a shift to data use by decision makers.
Specifically, D4I utilized an intentional collaborative approach with local actors, which resulted in learning and course corrections throughout implementation. This deliberate use of an adaptive management approach allowed the activity to engage local knowledge, assets and practices to align its programming with local priorities. Although not always immediate, relationships built on trust were key to the successful use of CLA. Working closely with actors in the local system, D4I not only demonstrated the value of using high-quality data in decision making, but also listened to change agents, and pivoted its work to benefit children in Moldova.
Evidence of the cultural shift toward data utilization can be seen in the now oft-repeated phrase by Moldovan decision makers and practitioners: “We cannot improve what we cannot measure.” This shift seemed inconceivable when the activity began four years ago! As a result of this new data-based culture, fewer children are in residential institutions, more children of migrant parents are protected, and more children with disabilities have access to personal assistants.
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