Author Archives: ICTworks

Making the Case for Donor Financing for AgTech Investment

The market for AgTech investment is growing. According to AgFunder, in 2016 there was $3.23 billion dollars invested in 580 AgTech deals. Investments in US firms represented 40% of of those deals, followed by investments in India, Canada, UK, Israel and France. However, investments in Africa and most of Asia remain low, a missed opportunity given that this is where the majority of the approximately 500 million small-holder farmers in the world who produce 70% of the world’s food are located. While there are challenges to encouraging AgTech investment in emerging markets, donors and impact funds and other actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem can play a role in attracting capital to this growing field

Posted in General Global Health, Noncommunicable Disease | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

What Data Do Our Constituents Want to Count?

Here is an interesting idea from Amanda Makulec that merits pondering: Let’s ask users: “What do YOU want to count?” instead of just collecting data for our own purposes. I know that’s a radical thought, that we’d count what our constituents want instead of focusing on our own needs and donor desires. I wonder if we even asked the question, what changes we’d be asked to make, and how much better our analysis could be? Surely our response rate should increase, as respondents would actually care about the results we generate. Then again, this means we’d have to stop talking about getting data back to those we extract it from, and really deliver on the promise of authentic feedback systems.

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11 Cost-Effective Uses of Drones in ICT for Agriculture

In February CRS, in collaboration with NetHope, flew a drone, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), over cashew farms in central Benin. Just from a first look at the images we could see immediately that there were several issues the farmers needed to address. We could see where there is space available to plant more trees and how many could be planted, where trees needed to be thinned out, where there had been burning, and areas for follow-up due to invasive weeds or other problems. Register now for ICTforAg 2017 to learn more about drones in agriculture Since then, we have found software that automatically tells us: tree counts, crop stress, and gradient changes that can show where water goes. These are hard to detect with the human eye, yet with this information, the field agent can use his limited and expensive time to pinpoint areas that need an in-person visit.

Posted in General Global Health, Noncommunicable Disease, Policy & Systems | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

What About Facebook Messenger Chatbots for Development?

Bolsa Familia is the Brazilian Government program for conditional income-transfers serving 14 million families living in poverty throughout the country. However, families have to consult the program manager at their city hall to see if they are eligible for the program. Any Brazilian poor enough to be eligible for Bolsa Familia could be discouraged from applying due to the long travel and wait times involved. I do not mean to pick on Brazil – the problem of servicing poor and often rural constituents is not unique to that country, and delays are all too familiar to anyone who has spent any time dealing with any bureaucracy. The question for us then becomes: Can we use instant messaging platforms and chatbots to increase convenience for everyone, especially poor people who cannot afford to waste time on tasks that can literally mean the difference between life and death?’ The Role of Chatbots What if we could just let people find out how much they are entitled to on the Bolsa Familia by using a chat messenger

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Uber for Tractors is Really a Thing in Developing Countries

You’ve probably taken an Uber, Lyft, or Grab Taxi. You may have used AirBnb. You could’ve even used Task Rabbit. I know I have. I’ve taken Uber in India, Kenya, and the Philippines, and found it to be easier and more transparent than taxis in all three countries, and Airbnb is now my go-to for short-term housing from Finland to Myanmar

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Your Fancy Android App Needs an Offline Mode

You’ve done your user-centered design, you’ve assessed your constituents, and you’ve determined that an Android application is the best way to deliver your intervention, using technology. Congratulations! Yet before you hire the Android development team in celebration, make sure your fancy application is designed to be used fully offline too. All Weather is Local With all the talk about cloud-based services for development, and all the promise of Android applications that leverage big data and cloud infrastructure, the reality in almost every country is that all weather is extremely local. Many areas will have enough Internet bandwidth to handle Android applications that need an always-on connection, yet most rural and underserved areas, will not – by definition

Posted in Aid & Development, Environment, Funding, General Global Health, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Cloud Computing for Development: A Four-Stage Analysis of Public, Private, and Hybrid Solutions

The idea of using the cloud for development is gaining popularity. In a 2013 assessment of “The Cloud Economy and Developing Countries” United Nations Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon lauded the cloud’s potential for fostering economic and social development and furthering Millennium Development Goals. A 2016 World Economic Forum report said with help from cloud provided services, “… the financial barriers to new business entry have fallen significantly,” providing both startups and small to medium enterprises the ability to scale and remain resilient. Once an organization decides to switch from its dog-eared, paper-based field data collection system to mobile devices, it should ask itself two questions: Where will the data be stored and what level of data analysis needs to be done? What type of backend storage and computing system best supports our organization’s work

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5 Lessons Learned in Creating Webmaker, a Mobile Content Publishing Platform

Recently, the Mozilla Foundation product development team set off to design a new, general purpose content publishing platform that could enable creativity among first-time smartphone owners. The intent was to create a simple, streamlined content creation platform for low cost-smartphones – something like the 2015 equivalent of the early web page creation software “FrontPage”- while taking into consideration the lower literacy levels of the target market. Here, product design was used as a research method and documented in Approaches to Local Content: Realising the Smartphone Opportunity. This contributed towards a greater understanding of the content creation opportunities in emerging markets, as well as the development of software to meet real user needs. Webmaker is the result—a tool tailored to empower ordinary mobile users as creators and content producers

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The Massive Myanmar Opportunity for Digital Financial Services

Myanmar is experiencing one of the world’s fastest adoption of mobile phones. Three years ago, less than 10% of the population had access to ma mobile phone. Today, over 90% of population of Myanmar has 3G coverage. Despite this rapid uptake of mobile technology, Myanmar remains one of the least developed financial systems in Southeast Asia. The country’s largest bank by asset has only 307 branches.

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How We Can Excite Youth By Using ICT in Agriculture

About six years ago, I was in Uganda as part of a team undertaking an agriculture policy assessment. One of the more interesting sound bites regarding agriculture was how many young people generically characterized farming as “digging” and that they’d rather earn enough to eat each day in almost any other way than digging. Two points stood out for me, and still do, in these declarations if we are to attract youth to and motivate them to stay in agriculture. Farming has to be more than digging. The time horizon has to lengthen beyond today.

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Please Stop Publishing to PDF Graveyards

I have a philosophical question for you to ponder: If a paper is published, and its hypothesis is proven, but no one acts on it, did the paper even exist? I ask this question as I’ve seen one too many academic research reports, written by and for scientists, that proves a theory, and can be taken as new scientific fact, yet because its written in obtuse jargon, published to obscure journals, and both the scientist and their organization only count publications, and not impact, that amazing research is lost to history. Another tombstone in PDF graveyards. I’m not alone in my question.

Posted in General Global Health, Online, Publications | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

The Continuing Need for Infomediaries in Digital Development

When we advocate for investments in new digital development solutions, we often make the case for them to be dead simple to use, expecting our constituents to be able to adopt and utilize them effectively by themselves. Join us at ICTforAg to learn more about infomediaries in agriculture However, this assumption has four flaws that often lead to failure: 1. Basic Literacy: In many countries, the majority of adults cannot read even simple text messages. There is no way they are able to read your fancy app pages, especially your consent forms. 2

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Apply Now: $100,000 in UNESCO International Literacy Prizes

Since 1967, the prestigious UNESCO International Literacy Prizes have recognized and rewarded 470 projects and programmes in the field of literacy for their excellence and innovation to support effective literacy practices and encourages the promotion of dynamic literate societies. This year’s theme is ‘literacy in a digital world’, which will also set the focus for International Literacy Day, celebrated on 8 September. Two UNESCO International Literacy Prizes are given to five laureates every year. UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, supported by the Government of the Republic of Korea, awards two candidates with special attention to the development and use of mother-tongue literacy education and training.

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Trump’s Potential USAID Budget Decimates ICT4D Funding

It’s no secret that President Trump dislikes traditional diplomacy. His use of Twitter and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner to set foreign policy is unpresidented and unprecedented. His choice for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson is equally radical, especially since Tillerson is on the record saying: “I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job.

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