Dr. Christopher Spohr
As senior education economist at the Asian Development Bank, Dr. Christopher Spohr handles not only project-related and analytical work on education, but also broader areas of social development, poverty reduction and social protection in ADB’s developing member countries in Southeast Asia.
A self-termed “socio-economist,” Spohr joined ADB in July 2000, following completion of his doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the field of development economics. His dissertation investigated compulsory education reform in Taipei, Taiwan, and the impact of prior schooling on outcomes ranging from labor market participation to women’s empowerment.
During his first four years at ADB, Spohr was responsible for loan and grant projects in education, health, nutrition, HIV and AIDS, and other social development areas, ranging from ADB’s assistance to the establishment of an informal education system — a precursor to the Alternative Learning System — in the Philippines to his service as the focal point for ADB’s emergency support to combat Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and other infectious diseases in poorer western areas in China. His other focal countries included Mongolia and Uzbekistan.
From 2004-2009, Spohr served as a social sector economist at the ADB Resident Mission in China, acting as focal point in the areas of social development, poverty reduction and social protection, civil society and nongovernment organizations, and information and communication technology for development. He was responsible for ADB’s policy-level support for relevant government agencies in poverty-related areas — principally China’s rural “development-based poverty alleviation” programs, and the establishment of a rural social safety net or dibao system — as well as support for national policy and planning for public nutrition, food safety, and government-NGO partnerships in delivering public services.
As Devex covered in 2008, ADB’s support for partnerships between the government and NGOs included developing and pilot-testing an outsourcing model to engage competitively selected domestic NGOs as facilitators for its flagship participatory village-level poverty reduction program.
Since transferring to ADB’s Southeast Asia Regional Department in May 2009, Spohr has continued to carry out project, policy-level and analytical work in an array of social development fields. His work in the Philippines includes serving as team leader for ADB’s support for the government’s conditional cash transfer program, including assisting the Department of Social Welfare and Development in creating and pilot-testing models to more extensively and effectively tap the diverse strengths of civil society organizations as partners within the national CCT program.
Beyond the Philippines, Spohr has principally covered education as well as HIV and AIDS in Laos, secondary education in Vietnam and community-driven development in Indonesia. In the past year, Spohr has served as ADB’s focal point for education and social development in Myanmar, including ADB’s support for the government’s Comprehensive Education Sector Review, the first rigorous assessment of Myanmar’s education sector in two decades.