Sure Start was a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded initiative in six districts of Uttar Pradesh and in urban informal dwellings in Maharashtra. Its goal was to achieve statistically significant reductions in maternal and child mortality through a package of interventions. Baird’s CMC and Hyderus were brought in after the project had started as donor confidence had hit a crisis and the partners, including the Government of India (GoI) were worried about progress.
Some of the key tasks assigned to the Baird’s CMC team were:
- coordination with the authors of the baseline study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the London School of Economics (LSE) and agreement how to write up and communicate the findings, which were successfully published
- development and implementation of a headquarters and donor relations strategy for PATH India
- implementation of a partner relationship management programme with the GoI, state governments, civil society and professional groups
- India-wide and regional advocacy efforts directed to government and civil society based on the learnings from Sure Start, which had started to secure changes in policy in other states before the end of the programme
- development of a communications strategy and of skills development internally to implement it
- setting up and carrying out an extensive social media programme
The work done by Baird’s CMC, especially the internal skills development training helped the Sure Start programme get back on track –, so much so that Melinda Gates, during a visit to India, singled out Sure Start for praise. Many of the initiatives developed by Baird’s CMC and Hyderus were incorporated into programmes in other states and the findings of the baseline study were successfully communicated using multiple platforms and media campaigns. Social media campaigns such as the Facebook page were effective in communicating the goals and achievements of the project.