There are few more inspiring stories in the world than those telling about huge sustainable development success and better lives for many people.
All great success stories have happened because someone had a goal and pulled people together to get it done. History has shown us that leadership is one of the most important drivers for development.
The world is a better place to live in for most people today than it was when their parents and grandparents were born: Extreme poverty has been halved and almost all children attend school. But despite the enormous progress made, there are many remaining development gaps. The solutions that will close these gaps will have to partly come from innovative ideas that can be taken to scale. The OECDs Development Assistance Committees Prize for Taking Development Innovation to Scale recognizes organizations who have taken this innovative approach.
This year's three winners and seven finalists tell stories about new and outstanding solutions in extremely important areas for people's lives: health, agriculture, electricity and education.
By believing in making a difference the ten organizations have shown a will and a way to work hard and constantly, believing their solutions can make a difference.
One of this year's three winners, The African Cashew Initiative has trained the farmers in five different countries to produce better quality cashew nuts. By keeping the crops in a better and more innovative way and supporting the factories which pack and make the nuts ready for the market, the cashew nuts of 330 000 farmers now have the high quality demanded by the European and the US market. People in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Mozambique have increased their income by 120 dollars annually.
These money can make a huge difference for a family. In addition 75 percent of the workers in the cashew factories are women, making more money than ever for themselves and their families. And even though it is hard to measure, I am sure this success also will influence and affect more people in the society.
In Uganda people are now able to read, cook, do homework, listen to radio or keep their shop open - because they can afford electricity. By using the mobile phone as payment method, allowing people to pay small daily amounts instead of huge down payments, people can afford solar power through the organization ReadyPay Solar. The second winner of the DAC Prize help more than 100.000 people benefit from this method of payment, letting the customers pay as little as 35 cents a day - less than their current energy costs.
The method is simple, but yet new on the market. And by allowing customers to pay for their solar in micro-instalments, the individuals build up a credit history which can make it possible to start investing in their future as well through other loans. And of course - using the sun for electricity is sustainable and good for the environment.
The last winner of this year's DAC Prize is the global Plantwise programme led by Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International. Yearly, as much as 30 to 40 percent of crops are lost to pests and diseases worldwide. To fight this, the remaining gap between farmers and knowledge resources needs to be closed with innovative solutions.
Plantwise does this by supporting local 'plant clinics', staffed with trained 'plant doctors' where farmers can seek practical plant health advice in currently 34 countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia. By using pest photo sheets, technical factsheets, pest distribution maps, and guides to reducing risks from pesticides, nearly 2 million smallholder farmers are now better equipped to fight against pests.
By 2020, the organization aims to reach 30 million farmers with the plant health resources they need to lose less and feed more. And to shape the food secure future of generations to come.
These three organizations are just a few among many which show us that we cannot wait for a master plan and for everyone to agree before we take action. The planet and people living in poverty do not have time to wait for the slowest countries and those least willing to act.
We need to look at what works, which innovations are important to focus on and bring to scale. We need to be inspired by success stories, and do more. Because even though the world is getting better every day for most people, there are still too many children growing up in poverty. Everyone can make a difference. Innovative ideas and solutions should be supported and believed in.