Many local partner organizations that international development actors engage with face risks while operating in challenging – and sometimes dangerous – environments. Some civil societies now face push backs from their governments and confront a closing space to function in, while others operate in fragile states where violence hinders progress. My organization, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) is no exception and we have partners in a range of countries in such circumstances – from Ukraine to Afghanistan – doing tremendous work to create a more sustainable democratic and economic communities. To support such organizations maneuver in difficult environments, the following are five mobile or online tools that could be used to strengthen the local organizations’ digital security. Be sure to suggest data security session ideas at MERL Tech 2016 and register now to participate on October 3-4, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Author Archives: ICTworks
After a year of conferences and education trade shows, I am convinced that my fellow technologists and development experts are not fully realizing the radical change that innovation, by which I mean technology, and of that, just digital communications, is metamorphosing education. We MUST radically change the way we report on ICT4Edu to mirror this metamorphosis! In today’s world, technology is everywhere and enables everything – except education. For the most part, education is still shackled by the 19th century sausage machine that at its best takes in children and spits out adults trained to work in factories, obediently following orders and never thinking for themselves. Or as we know, in many parts of the world, not even doing that, but failing every child in every school – just look at all the iNGOs photos of poor children in dilapidated village schools.
With the recent publication of its e-RNR (renewable natural resources) masterplan, the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan has joined an exclusive club of only a handful of countries globally, including Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire, to have a concerted national strategy for how to use ICT in agriculture. While many countries have some mention of ICT for agriculture or e-agriculture in national level strategies, such as India, Bangladesh, and the Caribbean Community, they tend to be either a brief reference to agriculture in national ICT plans or a brief reference to ICT in national agriculture plans. Considering the diversity and complexity of the agriculture sector, as well as its sheer size (a third of the world’s workforce are in agriculture), you wouldn’t be wrong in wondering how a few paragraphs in a national ICT or agriculture plan would be sufficient. Given this, it shouldn’t be surprising that ICT for agriculture, despite some successes, generally has not had the same level of impact yet as ICT in other sectors, such as health or education, which have often—but certainly not always—been a bit more organized. There are a number of reasons for this, which I won’t get into here, but one reason may just be the lack of coherent national visions and inclusive action plans aimed specifically at ICT and agriculture that help to align all actors (from regulators to large agribusinesses and technology firms all the way down to smallholder farmers) on a common path
The runaway success of mobile game Pokemon Go has many of us scratching our heads in disbelief: More people are swiping balls at monsters than using Twitter? They’re spending more time with imaginary creatures than with imaginary friends on Facebook? And all this happened in a single week!? For the ICT4D community, the game’s jump from zero to 20 million users (by some estimates) since its launch on July 6 prompts some further questions: Can we reach that kind of scale? And is this even relevant to our work, if most people we serve don’t have smartphones?
The use of technology for monitoring, evaluation research and learning (MERL) has become increasingly sophisticated and more openly accepted in the international development and humanitarian space. We find ourselves continually pushing forward and asking: What’s next? How can we advance our work? What is the role for new technologies in improving our practice?
At the recent ICTforAg Conference, the “What Works for Ag Data: Apps, Tools, and Visualizations” session brought together three digital development professionals to discuss data analysis and presentation tools: Matthew Cooper of Conservation International Tilly Josephson of Vera Solutions Michael Shoag of Forum One Existing Data Sets One of the more interesting aspects of their session were a number of existing agriculture data sets that Michael Shoag that organizations could use to start their data analysis, or enhance the data organizations already have: World Bank Datasets: Free and open macro-level data about countries around the globe, which can serve as a baseline for analysis. FAO STAT: A plethora of regularly updated global food and agriculture data, including production, trade, prices, food security, emissions, forestry, etc. Green Growth Knowledge Platform: Allows for comparison of a variety of data in green growth, including country, indicators and sectors. USDA Foreign Agriculture Service: The best data for international trade and agriculture data, though the website itself has a very dated look.
The Kenyan government recently introduced the Information Communications Technology Practitioners Bill 2016 bill that would require every ICT practitioner to have a university degree in computer science and pay an annual license fee to an ICT Practitioners Institute. An unlicensed ICT practitioner could be fined 50,000Ksh and sent to jail for 2 years. As you might image, this idea is quite controversial. Over 23,000 Kenyans engaged with our Facebook post asking their opinion on the matter, with the vast majority of the 60+ comments rejecting the need for this licensing scheme: Justus Muteti Mwandi: Kids as young as 12 years are writing sellable applications. Now they have to wait for campus degree
Working with ICT, we often get myopically focused on trying solving big problems, not even thinking about where technology has proven benefit: improving systems and processes. Instead of asking, “What problems can ICT solve?” we should ask ourselves, “What processes can ICT improve?” This approach intends to examine the fundamental practices that can be improved by using ICT as a catalyst, focusing on the day-to-day activities of community health workers, data entry clerks, health managers, or supervisors. Improving the basic building blocks of data flow and management at the field staff level can produce results that are seen and quantified quickly. The International Rescue Committee has developed a training exercise with this in mind.