March 06, 2013
Robert Salerno, DAI’s specialist in Health, Nutrition, and Livelihoods, and Daniel Lazier, Livelihoods Manager on the Economic Strengthening for Households Affected by AIDS (IMARISHA) Project in Tanzania, were featured speakers on a panel about savings groups with HIV-affected communities at the 2013 Savings Group Conference “Expanding Financial Inclusion and Development,” held March 4–5. Bill Grant, Global Lead for Inclusive Economic Growth, opened the plenary with a historical perspective on savings groups and their role in rural development.
The 2013 conference, put on by Oxfam America, focused on savings groups as an effective and complementary approach to financial inclusion and development. Presentations highlighted new developments in research, impact, and how to bring savings groups to scale.
During the panel presentation, Daniel and Robert shared results from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded IMARISHA project, highlighting the success of savings groups on Africare’s Tanzania program. Dr. Kechi Achebe from Africare also spoke about the role of savings groups in highly vulnerable populations. Lessons learned from the USAID-funded and DAI-led [Urban Gardens Program for HIV/AIDS Affected Women and Children] and Roads to a Healthy Future Program (ROADS II) were shared with participants.
“Despite anecdotal and growing evidence, savings for HIV-infected households is still under prioritized by service providers over other health services. The conference was a great space to hear about the progress we’re making as researchers and practitioners but we still have a long way to go,” said Robert. “More rigorous studies are needed to determine if savings can improve health outcomes and if financial habits of health compromised households are different from other vulnerable or ultra poor groups.”
The SG2013 conference hosted more than 300 attendees from bilateral and multilateral agencies, donors, financial service providers, foundations, and international and local nongovernmental organizations. This year’s conference showcased 35 sessions and 54 speakers from all over the world with a special focus on integrating savings groups into other development programs.
Download the entire program here or see highlights on Twitter by using the hashtag #SG2013.