Seizing synergies magnifes outcomes
Individual project outcomes, even when positive, donot necessarily translate into equally positive countryoutcomes. That is because other actors, such as theefectiveness o projects in other arenas and nationalpolicy considerations, inuence aggregate countryimpacts.What is more, ocusing eforts on one sector, let aloneone project, to get to a wider impact may not beadequate or even optimal. In seeking health impacts,or example, improving access to sae drinking wateror improving sanitation can have a more powerulhealth impact than some interventions that all withinthe sole ambit o the health sector. And investments inwater and sanitation have a better chance o reducingwater-related diseases i joined with education efortspromoting good hygiene, as evaluative lessons(1992–2009) rom ADB lending to rural water supplyand sanitation projects showed. Such relationshipshighlight interactions within and across sectors that inturn can inuence country outcomes.A series o evaluative ndingsat the projector sector levelsmake the case orconnecting the dotshorizontally. Anevaluation o ruralroads showed thatmany poor peoplesimply do not havethe means to takeadvantage o a ruralroad. In Bhutan, theuse o electricity orincome-generationhad been limited in the absence o investments inaccess roads, market development, irrigation systems,and skills. Similarly, research in Viet Nam identiedlinks between education outcomes and returns toirrigation, especially or the poorest. These examples call into question the merit o overshooting the target o a certain percentage in thetotal nancing or core inrastructure related sectorsin ADB’s strategy; as has been the case recently.Considerations o development efectiveness wouldthereore call or a balance in ADB’s presence in highlycomplementary areas, rather than lopsided portolioareas.
Inrastructure investments need to be complementedby investments in people and natural resources toenable the expected benets rom connectivity. That said, individual projects are not required tohave multiple eatures, but eforts are needed tolink related elements. For example, it was ound thatinvestments in roads unded by ADB in the Pacicislands, to have the expected impact, needed to beefectively connected with investments in capacitydevelopment rom partners.
Immediate objectives must connectto the fnal
Responding quickly to urgent development needs,essential as this is, oten diverts attention romroot causes and underlying issues; compromisingthe nal goals. When natural disasters strike, switresponses are critical. But quality is easily traded orspeed in many post-disaster situations. Immediateinterventions also need to eed into longer-termsolutions. I not, countries acing persistent risksrom natural disasters—such as cyclone ravagedBangladesh or the Pacic islands—can ndthemselves in a near-permanent state o recovery.Disaster preparedness and prevention programsneed to become part o development strategies orcountries prone to natural calamities.In education projects, countries and multilateraldevelopment banks have largely ocused onincreasing access to schooling. Most past efortsdid not achieve adequate impacts on improvedreading, writing, and math skills and other learningoutcomes. Where an assessment o such outcomeswas done—or example, by measuring improvedstudent learning or increased cohort survival or basiceducation or by increased employment opportunitiesor higher education—the results oten looked weak.New strategies or education in countries and somemultilateral development banks have begun toaccount or these links.
Focusing only on the immediate predicament orproximate needs risks losing sight o the desiredresults. In these instances, the implication may notbe that a single nancier tries to support all thegoals, but rather that the strategy o each sees thebigger picture and the work o diferent players is
An evaluation of ruralroads showed that the poorsimply do not have themeans to take advantageof a rural road. In Bhutan,the use of electricity forincome-generation hadbeen limited in the absenceof investments in accessroads, market development,irrigation systems, and skills.