ADB has been at the forefront of changing the lives of the people in Asia and the Pacific for the better for more than 50 years. Behind the results data are the people on the ground who have compelling stories to tell.
What sets ADB apart (and one of the reasons I joined the organization earlier this year) is its unwavering commitment to achieving development results. We’re not just talking about how much money is invested or how many projects are committed every year, but also how the organization and its partners help make the lives of people in Asia and the Pacific region better.
When ADB works with a developing member country to, say, build a road, it isn’t simply a matter of engineering. The road must indeed be built well, but it must also be constructed in a way that it can be of the most benefit to surrounding communities and people using that road. Keeping these beneficiaries in mind is at the core of all ADB-supported operations – and their stories and experiences help us understand the real value of projects and programs.
Beyond the numbers
Data from monitoring and evaluation play a major part in determining the results of our work and provide us with valuable insights for our future activities. They don’t often, however, give voice to the individuals who benefit from the projects and show what their success means to these people and their livelihood – even though this is perhaps where it matters the most. Their personal stories raise awareness on how ADB and its partners can help resolve the issues that the people in the region face on a day-to-day basis.
Together We Deliver, a publication prepared by ADB, helps bring these stories to light. Combining the project-wide results perspective with real, personal, in-depth interviews with beneficiaries, this series aims to demonstrate how ADB and its partners help improve the lives of a broad range of stakeholders. ADB’s Strategy, Policy and Review Department has just finished the latest edition, called Results Achieved, Lives Improved, where we feature 10 stories from across Asia and the Pacific, representing a variety of sectors and financing sources.
Results achieved, lives improved
In this year’s edition, we meet Siphone Vorasan from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, who not only raised herself from poverty by fulfilling her dream of becoming a businesswoman, but also empowered other women in her community by providing them with work. Dai ethnic minority members Wang Bao and his wife, Mei Chunzhi, now earn extra income by maintaining the roads near their farm in Yunnan province in the People's Republic of China. We also learn of Lopau Mapuinuumanaia from Samoa, who was able to rebuild his home and livelihood after the devastating tsunami through a recovery support program.
There are millions of people like Siphone, Wang, Mei, and Lopau whose lives have been changed for the better by ADB and its partners. Imagine the stories from all those who have benefitted from ADB-supported projects throughout the years. All of them are well worth telling, and I wish we could do them justice. With Together We Deliver, we can provide just a small window into the results our operations can bring to the people in the region.
Experiencing the story
In preparing the publication, I was lucky to be a part of the team who went to Uzbekistan to capture these stories straight from the source. The project we focused on has provided a line of credit to two commercial banks that on-lent the money to small businesses, with a particular focus on helping women entrepreneurs. Along with my colleague Norman Lu and staff from our Uzbekistan Resident Mission, I met with local bank branches to better understand how the project helped them reach out to previously underserved clients, and talked to dozens of those who were finally able to take out loans as part of the project.
The process of gathering these accounts was a journey in itself – literally and figuratively. We travelled more than 2,400 kilometers (via land and air) from the Kyrgyz border in the east to the Turkmen border at the far west of the country to understand how an ADB project helped small entrepreneurs grow their businesses and improve their livelihood.
More than just recording their voices and documenting their details, we were welcomed into their homes, saw the fruits of their labor, walked through the roads they crossed, and, even just for a short while, witnessed their everyday lives as if we were a part of them.
It was a deeply humbling and enriching experience. In Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic mostly surrounded by desert in the far west of the country, Zamira Abdukarimova’s determination—fueled by a loan from the ADB-supported project—was able to help her expand her bakery and provide a good life for her four children. Hearing about it firsthand was as heartwarming as the freshly-baked bread that she held out for us while we were interviewing her. She was wearing a wonderfully colorful, festive dress; it was her son’s wedding day, and she was proud to mention that she was able to pay for the memorable celebration, thanks to her growing business supported by the ADB project.
New solutions for better results
With the new Strategy 2030, ADB is working toward an ambitious goal of achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific. ADB will provide approaches best suited to the specific needs on the ground and promote innovation using advanced technologies. These guiding principles should be duly reflected in how we tell our results stories, too.
That brings us to exciting steps that we are taking to modernize and enhance our results communication. We are looking into using cutting-edge technology (such as augmented and virtual reality), combining rigorous quantitative data collection with compelling qualitative stories, and recording a full journey of the beneficiary, from baseline to project completion. We hope this new approach will not only help us tell the story in a better way; it will also provide a more comprehensive understanding of the outcomes of our projects, and what everyone can learn from them.
We are already planning to use some of these approaches next year and are looking forward to presenting a more immersive and interactive experience of ADB results.
Getting the stories out there is more than just about providing a recognition for the work ADB and its partners do in the region. It is also a reminder for the development community of our responsibility toward the people in our developing member countries – those whose very lives are affected and changed by what we do.
Sometimes our jobs make it hard to look beyond the number of loans given out, or the kilometers of highways built and paved. These stories help us remember that a road does not simply carry vehicles from one area to another – it also carries people in need of a brighter future.
Read the stories and share the experience. Together We Deliver: Results Achieved, Lives Improved is now available in print and electronic format.