Message from the Director
Staying the course in the COVID era
At the beginning of 2022, we find ourselves in unprecedented times as COVID-19 continues to affect our lives, and we continue to grapple with the reality that living with uncertainties might be part of our new normal. How we adjust and work with the new normal will be critical to our ability to continue making a positive impact around the globe. We at the Global Social Development Innovations (GSDI), like many, do just that. This report presents GSDI’s work in 2021 and shares lessons from the field. Our report demonstrates the investments that we made in 2021 to respond to the urgency of the COVID pandemic. Together with our global partners, we addressed the existential challenges brought about by COVID 19 and made significant inroads in solving problems.
Our values guided our work. As is our tradition, we turned to our local partners, the experts in their communities and countries, to drive solutions to the COVID challenges they faced. Our partners were champions in implementing culturally relevant solutions that ensured that all voices were heard, respected, and valued. An inclusive process that promoted accountability and transparency yielded an exchange of knowledge and best practices.
Our center set out to implement critical and actionable solutions and investments to meet the challenge of a pandemic era. As COVID 19 continues, our work cannot wait until the pandemic is over. The urgency to adjust and effectively respond to issues that were not part of our mission but are intricately connected to the work we had set out to do pre-COVID, was very clear. We set out to address pressing issues with our partners and conducted research that will inform our projects in the years to come. Our findings revealed vulnerabilities that our communities around the globe face. Our work moving forward will have to address these fundamental vulnerabilities if we are to create lasting change. Our partners pivoted to provide safety nets, food, and cash to buffer families and reduce risk to additional vulnerabilities in India. We created a tool to measure youth vulnerabilities and marginalization as a product of work conducted for USAID.
We leveraged digital technologies to foster learning and connections. GSDI’s pandemic experience showed how technology fosters collaboration with remote global communities. However, the lack of high-quality internet connectivity continues to be a barrier for some and further illustrates how the digital divide affects marginalized communities that already experience multiple marginalizations, technology being one of the marginalizations. Our team leveraged new digital technologies to foster learning and connections by hosting webinars, seminars, and other events.
Through our publications and conference presentations, we provided evidence and knowledge that promote well-being in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). We found that using community resilience programs, a new approach in the health field, promotes positive youth health outcomes. Also, Positive Youth Development can inform programmatic interventions to address intrinsic, contextual, and structural factors that affect youth vulnerabilities and marginalization. Our youth employability work indicates that social networks, psychosocial attributes, age, and identity, impact employment outcomes in South Africa. Our HIV and adherence work identifies that a perceived lack of safety when traveling from home to health clinics is associated with medication non-adherence, higher stress levels, and lower levels of agency among people living with HIV in Zambia. Lastly, our work on food security indicates that household food insecurity negatively affects young people’s educational and psychological outcomes and their relationship with their parents in Ghana. Overall, findings from our work unveil intervention “leverage points” that can impact policy and change lives.
GSDI is well-positioned to address the challenges of 2022 and continues to work for vulnerable and marginalized youth and their families around the globe. We will continue “Generating Evidence to Advance Youth Well-being, Globally.”