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June 2021

All In: Vietnam's War Against Covid-19

When SARS-CoV-2 emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, Vietnam’s scientists knew their country was in grave danger. Vietnam, a country of 97 million, shared an 870-mile land border with China, its biggest trade and tourism partner. Adding to the risk posed by the virus, Vietnam was a lower-middle-income nation with limited resources and an already overtaxed health-care system. But in the years after the 2003 outbreak of SARS, a deadly respiratory ailment that traumatized East Asia, Vietnam had built a robust pandemic-preparedness system that swiftly mobilized to confront the threat of SARS-CoV-2. After Vietnam recorded its first case on January 22, 2020, the prime minister declared all-out war on the virus no matter the cost to the economy. The government moved swiftly to implement border closures, extensive contact tracing, targeted lockdowns, and a strict quarantine protocol. Relentless and creative communications based on accuracy, transparency, and timeliness built public trust and compliance with public health measures. After more than three months with no community transmission, the country experienced an outbreak in Da Nang that spread across the nation and threatened to spiral out of control. But Vietnam’s authorities carried out a massive testing, tracing, and quarantine program that halted the contagion. As of December 31, 2020, Vietnam had recorded only 1,465 cases and 35 deaths—and it had posted the highest annual GDP growth of any economy in Asia.

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Rapid COVID-19 testing registration desk in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo Credit: Truyền Hình Pháp Luật/Wikimedia Commons


Republic of Georgia Versus COVID-19: Securing an Early Win, Beating Back a Late-Stage Challenge

As soon as the Republic of Georgia’s National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) sounded an alarm about a cluster of unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s government set its pandemic response into motion. It was early January 2020, and there was still no hard evidence that the infection had spread across borders, but the country’s health leaders were wary. As outbreaks of the virus, identified as COVID-19, began to appear in other countries, the government quickly created a multisectoral coordination council chaired by the prime minister and then adopted a number of emergency response measures. Working with a network of local public health centers, the NCDC launched a communications blitz, with scientists and physicians at the forefront. The public health campaign encouraged compliance with stringent—and unpopular—lockdown measures. Through the first half of 2020, the weekly number of new cases remained low, even as infections surged in many high-income industrial countries. But it was too early for a victory lap. Pressure grew to open up resort centers during July and August in an economy heavily dependent on tourism. During September, October, and November the number of new cases per day climbed sharply, driven mainly by expansion of the outbreak in Adjara, a vacation destination. Compared to most European countries, the incidence of disease remained low, however, and the number of new infections later plummeted, approaching initial levels by March 2021. This case study highlights how a small, middle-income country with a privatized and decentralized health-care system initially succeeded in its pandemic response, struggled with sharp reversals, and then brought the infection rate close to earlier levels prior to vaccine distribution.

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These case studies are part of a new ISS series profiling how several governments adapted coordination systems to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus is on the first 14 months. These cases support UNDP’s effort to help capture and share what countries are learning.


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Innovations for Successful Societies (ISS) is a program of Princeton University's
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs 

ISS Monthly Newsletter Archive

January 2021

November/December 2020

October 2020

September 2020

July 2020

May 2020

April 2020

February 2020

December 2019/January 2020

November 2019

October 2019 - Seattle Earthquake Preparedness

September 2019 - Indoneisa Anti-Corruption

August 2019 - Amazon Rainforest

July 2019 - Tirana, Albania

June 2019 - Early Childhood Development Urban95

May 2019- Vietnam Health

April 2019 - Uganda Revenue Authority

February 2019 - Cape Town Water

January 2019 - Ethiopia Health

December 2018 - Ethiopia Tax

November 2018 - Colombia Health

October 2018 - South Africa Health

September 2018 - Rwanda Health, South Bend Smart City

August 2018- Vietnam Tax Chicago Smart City

July 2018 - Nuevo León Police

June 2018 - US Ebola Response

May 2018 - Rwanda Revenue Authority

April 2018 - Indonesia Tax

March 2018 - Human Trafficking

February 2018 - Liberia Payroll US TIGER

January 2018 - US Heirs Property

December 2017- Indonesia Land Agency

November 2017 - India Open Defecation

October 2017: Anti-Corruption Series

September 2017: Rwanda Land, Colombia Coffee

August 2017: Indonesia Corruption , Brazil Soy

July 2017: Tanzania and Australia Land

June 2017: Reforming Procurement Systems in South Africa

May 2017: Tunisia Open Government

April 2017: Liberia Ebola Response

March 2017: Land Administration

February 2017: Brazil Anti Corruption

January 2017: Property Rights & Land Administration

December 2016: Reconciling the Impossible: South Africa's Government of Unity

November 2016: The Ongoing Drive for Sustainable Cattle Ranching in Brazil

October 2016: Managing Tense Elections

September 2016: Indonesia's 2014 Presidential Transition

August 2016: Reforming Brazil's Military

July 2016: Graduates to Government: The President's Young Professionals Program In Liberia

June 2016: Delivering on Presidential Goals in the Dominican Republic

May 2016: Pockets of Effectiveness in Senegal and Indonesia

April 2016: Evaluation in Benin & Croatia Defense Reform

March 2016: Powersharing in Tunisia and Kenya

February 2016: Morocco Water, Tunisia Microfinance

January 2016: Mexico Veracruz and Ghana Presidential Transition

December 2015: Peru and Kenya Judiciaries

November 2015: Protecting Forests, Mitigating Climate Change

October 2015: Open Government Partnership

September 2015: Mexico's Presidential Transition

August 2015 Indonesia Military

July 2015: Kenya 2030 Strategy

June 2015: Calderon's Prexidency in Mexico, Anti Corruption in Luthuania

 May 2015: Bihar India Modernizing Systems to Improve Service Delivery

 April 2015: Two New Case Studies on the Philippines

 March 2015: Monitoring Kosovo's Courts 

 February 2015: Pakistan's Citizen Feedback Monitoring Program

 January 2015: ISS Announces a New Online Course

 January 2015: Reducing Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon 

December 2014: Lagos State and Vietnam: Promoting Reform at the Local Level 

November 2014: Political Transitions in Chile

October 2014: Tunisian Elections

 September 2014: Strategy Development in Serbia and Estonia

 August 2014: Strategy Development in Malayasia

 July 2014: Effective Reforms in Brazil

June 2014: Public Sector Innovation in Mexico

May 2014: Short-Route Accountability in Afghanistan

April 2014: Elections in India

March 2014: Transforming Citizen Services

February 2014: Short-Route Accountability in Indonesia & the Philippines

January 2014: Anti-Corruption Agencies

December 2013: South Africa's Transition to a Non-Racial Democracy

November 2013: Reform Leaders on Effective and Accountable Civil Service

October 2013: Improving Policy Management and Service Delivery

September 2013: Combatting Corruption and Mediating Election Conflict

 August 2013: Improving Service Delivery and Reducing Election Violence 

July 2013: Increasing Accountability and Efficiency in Civil Service

June 2013: Government Delivery Units

May 2013: Anti-Corruption Commissions

April 2013: Election Reforms in Zambia and other Countries

March 2013: Civil Service Reforms in Brazil

February 2013: Infrastructure Projects, Government Investments and Obstacles

 January 2013: Anti-Corruption Efforts in the Baltics and Nigerian Elections

December 2012: Reforming City Management in Palmero and Johannesburg

November 2012: ISS Marks 100 Case Studies

October 2012: Kenya Open Data and the Rapid Results Approach

September 2012: Cabinet Reform and Anti-Corruption Agencies

August 2012: City Management in Bangalore and Rapid Results in Madagascar

July 2012: Indonesian and Georgian Reforms

June 2012: Revenue Collection in Liberia

May 2012: Center of Government in the Batics

April 2012: Indonesian Accountability and Nigerian Electoral Reform

March 2012: Improving Government Accountability, Leading Reform

Spring 2012 Newsletter

Summer 2012 Newsletter