“In terms of sustainability, the program’s expansion was a prime example of a good partnership with an institution — the state governmentof Tamil Nadu — that respected our input and said, by the same token, ‘We’re making our own input. It’s our program and you’re contributing to what we’re doing,’ ” Lavelle says.
These same partnership principles applied to a program called Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), which was initiated by the World Bank and supported strongly by both CARE and the Tamil Nadu government. The ICDS initiative trained thousands of community health workers and day care center managers to deliver health messages directly to households. The effects of that work resonated not only with those in the communities who benefited from it, but with those who administered it. “Of all the USAID-supported activities during my tenure in India, I think I was impressed the most with the ICDS effort,” writes Owen Cylke, a former USAID director, in a book of memoirs collected from CARE
and USAID staff. Cylke was based in New Delhi in the 1980s. He saw the benefits of ICDS firsthand, but also describes how they affirmed for him the good that development does.
“Not only did [ICDS] provide nourishment to India’s future, it also gave enormous pride to its village workers. I will never forget the look of pride in the eyes of Indian women associated with the ICDS program. For me they spoke volumes about what we mean by development. And, again, CARE was there at the center of it.”
The midday meal and ICDS programs each complemented the other in Tamil Nadu. Each helped the other succeed in transforming lives.
And the logical next step was to take these two successful state-level programs and expand them nationwide. That is exactly what the Indian government did. “Theseare both national programs written into the national budget,” Lavelle says. “And they are now totally funded by the government of India and the respective state governments. ”The success of this collaborative effort in India has extended far beyond its country borders. Because the scope ofthe programs required a large number of well-trained foreign service nationals, CARE began systematically hiring, training and promoting people to take the lessons learned and adapt them to contexts all over the world. By the 1980s and ’90s, Lavelle says, CARE had developed “a wonderful cadre of local people who could be moved to Haiti, to Somalia, to Sudan, to wherever, and these people became the point of the lance for CARE in terms of its humanitarian disaster assistance response.” Many CARE staffers have gone on to serve in leadership roles with other humanitarian organizations as well, delivering aid and long-term development where the need is greatest. More than 50 years after the Bihar crisis that could have been a catastrophe, CARE and USAID continue to work together. The partners have implemented programs in more than 80 countries and across sectors that range from humanitarian aid, health and economic development to governance, gender, climate change and water. Now, CARE and USAID — with generous support from individual, foundation and corporate donors — are fighting child marriage in Nepal, reducing maternal and child mortality in Rwanda, and building food security in Ethiopia, Haiti, Bangladesh and elsewhere. In many ways, the success of these contemporary efforts springs from the same principles of trust, partnership and cooperation that long ago guided the transformative work in Bihar, Tamil Nadu and throughout India.