Welcome to Care Group Info! I’m Tom Davis, Chairman of the Board, CORE Group, and Director of Health Programs for Food for the Hungry. The CORE Group is THE network for people who work in community health, and the CORE Group has been instrumental in documenting this approach and getting the word out to others. If you are looking to learn more about methods to reach the poor with lifesaving information at low cost, you’re in the right place. Care Groups have been around now for 12 years, but recently they have been gaining a lot more attention by international NGOs and multilateral organizations. If you are new to Care Groups, I recommend you watch the narrated presentation we have posted. If you are more of a reader, download the manual.
I learned about Care Groups 12 years ago from one of the original developers of the approach, Dr. Pieter Ernst in Mozambique. (The other main collaborator on the methodology is Dr. Muriel Elmer, formerly with World Relief.) In Food for the Hungry, we began using them at that point and have used them in many settings in the world (most in Africa) since then. When — with World Relief — we started to gather information on the results of Care Groups and compared them to other child survival projects, we realized that this was a very special approach that deserved a lot more attention — hence the website.
For example, in our Care Group project using Care Groups in Mozambique (sponsored by USAID), we have seen a 42% drop in malnutrition (underweight) in only 2.5 years. The cost per beneficiary there is a mere $3.60 per beneficiary per year. By doing Lives Saved Analysis (using the Bellagio Lives Saved Calculator — the same one used in the Lancet Child Survival Series), we found that for only $305, we could save the life of one child. This is about 1/4 of the cost to save life for a typical (and very cost-effective) USAID funded child survival program.
As I have read more of the literature on networks, persuasion, community-based social marketing and other disciplines, I have more and more hypotheses about the power of Care Groups and why they are successful. But these are mostly hunches at this point. What we do know is that they work. What we need to do now is to better explore why they work, under what conditions they work, and how to convince policy makers to scale up the approach where it has been effective..
In future posts, we can discuss some of the possible reasons for Care Groups’ success.
Chairman of the Board, CORE Group
Dir. of Health Programs, Food for the Hungry