Author Archives: ICTworks

Oxfam’s Responsible Data Policy – Do You Have One Too?

As a rights-based organization, Oxfam is committed to using data responsibly in order to uphold the rights of the individuals, groups, and organizations with whom we work. Using data responsibly is not just an issue of technical security and encryption but also of safeguarding the rights of people to be counted and heard; ensure their dignity, respect and privacy; enable them to make informed decisions; and not be put at risk, when providing data. Register now for MERL Tech to join the session Developing and Operationalizing Responsible Data Policies with the authors of this policy. Oxfam recognizes that people have rights with regards to the information related to them and that Oxfam has a responsibility to uphold those rights.

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Stop Giving Away Smartphones!

Pretty much every day, I hear the same failure refrain repeated again and again, “We gave away 50-100 smartphones for our mobile project.” Why is this an indication of failure? Please show me the Ministry that can afford to buy 10,000 or 100,000 or 1,000,0000 smartphones for all it’s frontline staff, even before maintenance, support, or replacement costs are added in. There are none. Which means every free phone pilot is doomed to fail to scale. So what can be done

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3 Barriers to Using Sensors to Improve ICTforAg

As mentioned in Sabeen Dhanani’s initial post in this series, How Can Sensor Technologies and Precision Farming Improve Agriculture?, technology is the easiest part of using sensors to support improved agricultural practices in developing countries. Today, fairly inexpensive sensors are readily available that can measure almost anything related to agriculture. Yet, as identified through USAID’s ICTforAg convening in Silicon Valley, numerous technology barriers persist, including: Enabling efficient data transmission Testing and refining analysis to accurately reflect local conditions Reaching a production scale that supports a price point that enables widespread use in developing markets. These challenges can be overcome, however, as exemplified by the Betel Meter, prototyped by and Proximity Designs, that helps farmers optimize their irrigation and enable precision-farming techniques in Burma. Barrier #1: Data Transmission The Challenge There are a number of ways to transmit data from sensors.

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How Can Sensor Technologies and Precision Farming Improve Agriculture?

The use of precise, granular data collected via remote and ground sensors has tremendous potential to improve agriculture outcomes. In the industrialized world the most mature aspects of the application of these tools tend to be linked with GPS-based crop monitoring such as that used by the Climate Corporation which gives farmers access to real-time, field-level data. However, the application of these tools in a developing context is still being explored. This post details the outcome of a USAID convening exploring the the potential for precision agriculture technologies in developing countries. Working with 10 other federal agencies, USAID leads Feed the Future, the U.S.

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How Liberia Can Save Over $5 Million with Mobile Money Salary Payments

Liberia is a cash-based economy, and ATMs are few and far in between, restricted mainly to Monrovia hotels frequented by expats. In fact, as of 2014, some 60% of financial service facilities were in Montserrado Country, where the capital Monrovia is located, while some counties did not even have bank representation at all. Liberia’s civil servants depend on this unreliable and interspersed financial services and banking sector—some having to travel for days to collect and cash a paper check or withdraw money after receiving their salary payment through direct deposit. The High Costs of Getting Paid In 2014, 37% of civil servants still received their salary payments via paper check yet the entire country had only 75 bank branches operated by nine commercial banks.

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Apply Now: $100,000 in Grant Funding for Digital Financial Services Entrepreneurs

Do you have an inner flame that compels you to be a founder at a startup? Do you have deep expertise in fintech, payments, or retail finance? Do you dream of creating digital financial products that will serve the needs of billions of low income consumers in developing countries? Then apply now to be part of the inaugural FinTech Boot Camp this October 23 – 28, 2016 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Digital Financial Services Innovation Lab will bring together 10 purpose-driven entrepreneurs to participate in DFS Lab’s Fintech Boot Camp to build innovative products, services and technologies for low-income consumers using the Design Sprint methodology in a 5-day workshop to design, prototype and test new ideas.

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3 Lessons Learned Deploying eHealth Solutions for Nigerian Health Systems

The Federal Ministry of Health has identified several key challenges for the healthcare system in Nigeria to ensure the availability of life-saving commodities and meet national supply chain reliability goals, including: Incomplete and inadequate data on commodity turnover at Public Health Centers, Late drug and medical supply deliveries to health facilities, Substantial degrees of stockouts in local stores. For example, in 2014, some Kano local stores experienced stockouts (exhaustion of vaccines) of one or more antigens and devices 90% of the time. The stockouts substantially reduced Nigeria’s ability to meet immunization goals and illustrated the challenges facing Nigeria’s healthcare infrastructure. In order to overcome these challenges, the Federal Ministry of Health wanted to have consistently sufficient stocks of vaccines and devices on hand. Additionally, a separate key goal was to have real-time stock data management in order to provide rapid response to shortages.

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Where is DFID in Digital Development?

Recently, DFID commissioned a review of how digital tools are being used in its programmes to benchmark DFID’s current activities and support the development of an overarching vision that could inform a future focus of its digital development efforts. The review found a general consensus across staff and external partners that digital development presents huge opportunities for helping poor people better benefit from development interventions. However, most agreed there are also significant barriers to success and issues that need to be addressed. Three overarching issues included: 1. Access to mobile/internet One of the biggest barriers to success across all areas is the challenge faced by the poorest and most marginalized having access to quality and affordable Internet connection.

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Get Your Online Diploma in Tech for M&E with TechChange

When it comes to international development, technology moves fast. Whether implementing global or local programs, knowing that you are getting the right data for making decisions and reporting results can make the difference between success and failure. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce our Fall 2016 Tech for Monitoring and Evaluation Online Diploma Program, a 16-week online program starting September 12th. This course is comprised of three four-week courses offered at a discount for those taking the full diploma: Technology for Monitoring & Evaluation Technology for Data Collection & Survey Design Technology for Data Visualization This is the third time that we have run our program, which has been taken by over 250 students in 60 countries, including groups from prominent partners such as UNICEF, USAID, World Bank, Jhiego, International Youth Foundation, and more. After taking this course, our alums have: Applied their new M&E skills to an organizational strategic plan.

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5 Ways to Harness Data and Technology for Disaster Response

When disaster strikes, real time updates about evolving crisis situations and information about those affected, including their needs and locations, are paramount to effective emergency response and better decision-making. Yet gathering essential data to provide rapid disaster relief involves many challenges ranging from security of aid workers to cultural barriers and difficulties in communication. Here are five was we can gather and analyze data faster and better for disaster response: 1. Social Media Platforms, like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, played a significant role in Nepal 2014 earthquake relief operations with tweets and hashtags used to gather and disseminate information about where aid is needed. UNOCHA together with Standby Task Force used tweets from Nepal to develop a crisis map of priority areas of where aid was needed

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Please Register Now for MERL Tech 2016

Please register now for MERL Tech 2016, the premier conference on the use of technology for monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning. Over 300 of your peers will experience 18 breakouts, 12 workshops, 10 lightning talks, and 6 keynotes to explore: How can we design for the full Data Lifecycle – planning, collection, storage, analysis, disposal – within limited operational budgets? What Responsible Data approaches and policies can we adopt to ensure that we  maintain high ethical standards and data security, while still being transparent and collaborative? When and how can Big Data, Open Data, and Real-Time Data support program objectives and begin to predict outcomes in time to impact decision making? What are the risks in these approaches?

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Mine Kafon Drone: The Best ICT4D Kickstarter Ever

There are over 100 million land mines worldwide, and 10 people a day are killed or maimed by them. De-mining them the current way – with humans scouting for them – is dangerous and very slow. But what if we could use drones to make the process 20 times faster, up to 200 times cheaper, and rid the world of abandoned minefields in 10 years?! That’s the idea behind Mine Kafon Drone the best ICT4D Kickstarter ever.

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Apply Now for $312,000 in ICT4D Grants for Africa and Asia

Finding seed funding to launch ICT4D projects isn’t easy, and we’d like to help! Here’s three grant opportunities and one award program that can bring new resources to your programs. Be sure to sign up to get emails about new grant opportunities as we find them. $250,000 Data Innovations Grants The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data has a new multi-million dollar funding initiative to support innovative collaborations for data production, dissemination linked to the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Big Data Needs to be Open Data

  Big data. We hear about it regularly, but for someone who is a bit of a techno-slug, who moves at a slow pace of adoption, I wonder sometimes just where all this big data comes from and how it might be used in this case to enhance resiliency of farmers. Therefore, I was very interested in Dr. Debisi Araba‘s “Big Data—Dispatches from Nigeria,” presentation at the recent ICTforAg conference. Dr.

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