Impact Bonds & Covid-19: Adaptation in the face of uncertainty
In 2019, Social Finance’s International team supported the launch of four new impact bonds, in four regions, spanning multiple sectors from WASH to youth employment. These contracts were designed to enable adaptation to change, but none of them planned for an event with the impact of Covid-19.
Whilst the situation continues to evolve, it is heartening to see that – in line with emerging indications from Impact Bonds elsewhere in the world – public, private and philanthropic stakeholders are working together to ensure ongoing service relevance, continuity and adaptation to operational and evaluation constraints:
The KMC (neonatal survival) Development Impact Bond in Cameroon (PDF) has encountered significant operational challenges as implementation takes place in a hospital setting. The programme has funded additional PPE for clinical teams, introduced remote consultations to ensure quality outpatient care during this time, and shifted to a remote outcome verification methodology to limit the presence of non-clinical personnel in hospitals.
Covid-19 has prompted an accelerated focus on healthcare and health and safety jobs in the West Bank and Gaza Youth Employment DIB (PDF). Looking forward, the impact of Covid-19 on the economy and labour demand is likely to mean a more challenging delivery environment for the programme. Consideration is being given to operational adjustments, such as virtual delivery of aspects of the training, if needed.
The Cambodia Rural Sanitation DIB (PDF) is at an early implementation stage. Fortunately, Cambodia has not been badly hit by Covid to date. Other than an extended leave over the Khmer New Year period in April for the staff of iDE, the lead organisation, implementation of this markets-based approach has been able to continue, albeit with enhanced hygiene precautions. The DIB is currently ahead of its targets.
The delivery of the Chile Literacy Impact Bond (PDF) has been paused while schools are closed. Virtual delivery is proving challenging due to the children’s age and the vulnerability of the target cohort. Various options, including subsidies, are being considered to get the programme back on track when schools reopen.
The KMC Cameroon and the West Bank and Gaza Youth Employment DIBs were discussed on the GO Lab’s Emergency Responses and Government Outcomes (ERGO) peer learning group on the implications of Covid-19 in low and middle income countries. Watch a recording of the session.