Author Archives: ICTworks

3 Lessons Learned in Creating Digital Development Tools

ICT has the power to propel development forward, but before you jump in head first with a new ICT tool, there are a few critical questions to consider, like: What is the benefit to the user and who ultimately benefits the most? Can the tool continue to have a positive impact after the life of a project? Who are the decision-makers on the use of data and the owners of the data collected and used through the technology? What are the opportunity costs of developing and rolling out a new tool?

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Please RSVP Now for MERL Tech 2017 and Submit Your Session Ideas

Please sign up to present, register to attend, or reserve a demo table for MERL Tech DC 2017 on September 7-8, 2017 at FHI 360 in Washington, DC. We will engage 300 practitioners from across the development ecosystem for a two-day conference seeking to turn the theories of MERL technology into effective practice that delivers real insight and learning in our sector. MERL Tech DC 2017 Digital data and new media and information technologies are changing monitoring, evaluation, research and learning (MERL). The past five years have seen technology-enabled MERL growing by leaps and bounds The field is in constant flux with emerging methods, tools and approaches, such as: Adaptive management and developmental evaluation Faster, higher quality data collection Remote data gathering through sensors and self-reporting by mobile Big data and social media analytics Story-triggered methodologies Alongside these new initiatives, we are seeing increasing documentation and assessment of technology-enabled MERL initiatives. Good practice guidelines are emerging and agency-level efforts are making new initiatives easier to start, build on and improve

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Reducing Risk and Increasing Agricultural Loans with Mobile Money in Ghana

Like in many developing countries, agriculture is the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy. 62 percent of Ghanaians are employed in the sector, says Doris Amponsaa Owusu, Business Services Specialist for USAID’s ADVANCE II Project (Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement). ADVANCE II, implemented by ACDI/VOCA, supports the scaling up of agricultural investments to improve the competitiveness of important value chains in Ghana, and is supported by Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global huger and food security initiative.

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The Need for ICT Skills in My Community

The popularization of internet, social media, and mobile applications have intensely changed our modern society, creating new ways for starting and managing a business or get employed. This brings the need to rethink and update the related skills to succeed in today’s studies, business and employment. The biggest challenge that worries me so much is the digital skills gap among young people and the gender crisis in the usage of the internet in our communities. The majority of unemployed youths in Uganda do not have basic skills and cannot do the things powered the use of technology and the internet. I have worked in my community as a young IT graduate, I have met many young people in schools, universities and institutions who have never had a chance to use a computer or the Internet.

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Your New Business Development Pipeline Toolkit

Dimagi has grown quickly in pursuit of our mission to help frontline programs around the world amplify their impact with digital technology. Over the last 15 years, our team has implemented hundreds of projects, which required managing thousands of business opportunities. As a social enterprise, handling this process efficiently and consistently is a core element of our success and a key factor in why our open source mobile platform, CommCare, is actively used in our 60 countries today. We are pleased to release our Business Development Toolkit, which describes the approach we honed for managing a pipeline of business opportunities. Our approach tracks opportunities of varying size, timelines, and likelihood of succeeding, and how to use this information to prioritize BD efforts and estimate the future value of current opportunities.

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How Video Can Improve Agricultural Practices in Uganda

Smallholder farmers located in the Southwestern tip of Uganda engage in potato farming to feed their families and to earn some extra income. As part of Pasic, a large policy action project to increase sustainable intensification of cropping systems in Uganda, we found that seed quality is the main factor holding potato farmers back. Farmers needed to learn two new activities: Positive Seed Selection: using the largest tubers for seed stock instead of eating them and only using small, malformed tubers affected by disease as seed stock. Proper Seed Storage and Handling: dry tubers on racks or on dry grass and inspected regularly for rotten or disease affected tubers. Using ICT to Increase Agricultural Knowledge To raise awareness on these two key potato seed quality aspects, we produced two short videos

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How Technology Can Reduce Hunger and Improve Food Security

There are 793 million people globally, who are undernourished or food insecure according to the FAO. Weather, conflict, labor markets, food supply systems, nutrition, livelihoods, and social inclusion combine to hinder their ability to acquire enough food to meet the daily minimum dietary energy requirements. While this may be shocking in societies where fast food restaurants offer “super sized” meals for cheap, for millions of people, getting enough to eat is a daily struggle. Thankfully, there are new tools of technology that policy makers can now use to sense and predict food insecurity months before it happens, allowing farmers and policy makers to increase their adaptive capacity. Improved Prediction From satellites circling the earth, to ground-based remote sensors in the oceans, rivers, and farms, we can forecast the drivers of food insecurity with high degrees of accuracy.

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Reduce Your Digital Activism Ignorance Ratio with KNIME

A few year ago, we ran a campaign targeting the Guatemalan Government, which generated a good deal of global public support (100,000 signatures, online activism, etc.). This, combined with other advocacy strategies, finally pushed change to happen. Yet when we did an evaluation in order to learn from such a success, we found a key area where there was little to learn because we were unable to get and analyze the information. We didn’t know the source of more than 80% of our signatures – our ignorance ratio. We didn’t know which online channels drove traffic to the online petition, and which had the best conversion rates

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Now Scientific Fact: Mobile Money Can Lift Women Out of Poverty

  For nearly four years, we have been sharing information about the various ways that gender and mobile intertwine in our Gender and Mobile newsletter. In our latest issue, we offered our perspectives on two recent reports from MIT and Georgetown and the GSMA which examined mobile money as a tool for women’s economic empowerment. Mobile Money Can Lift Women Out of Poverty In the Science journal article “The long-run poverty and gender impacts of mobile money“, Suri and Jack (2016) have caused waves with the finding that access and use of M-PESA has lifted an astounding 2% of households out of poverty. The gender link here is that households led by women experienced the most profound effects of this phenomenon – propelled by their new-found ability to exhibit more financial resilience and to save money by using the service.

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5 Fantastic Guides to Developing Project Monitoring and Evaluation Programs

Development professionals work to make positive change happen through their programs and initiatives. However, it is very hard for them to measure their projects’ impact and evaluate how efficient they are. The best development projects are identified by their impact and their efficiency, and the best way to measure these is through a good project monitoring and evaluation system. Designing a good project monitoring and evaluation plan, while essential and vital, can be complicated.

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It’s 2017, You Should be Localizing Your ICT4D Solutions Already

Many ICT4D projects have a major strike against them before they even begin: they use international languages instead of local ones. The intended audience not only has to learn a technology that they may not be comfortable with, but they also have to struggle with the language that it uses, which they may read only slowly and poorly, if at all. It is useless to produce a whizbang tool to reach the “next billion”, if it’s in a language that they do not understand. 4 Reasons Why You Should Localize Localization, or L10n, is ensuring that tools work in the local language actually used by your intended audience. That starts with realizing that many people do not use only one language

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Apply Now: 3.3 Million GBP for M4D Innovations in Access to Basic Utilities

Of the 1.2 billion people who lack basic energy access around the world, 772 million are covered by mobile networks. Similar figures exist for water and sanitation, as 289 million of those lacking access to drinking water, and 2.4 billion people without improved sanitation facilities are covered by mobile networks. The GSMA M4D Utilities Innovation Fund awards grants to mobile operators, innovators and service providers to trial or scale commercially sustainable solutions that leverage mobile to directly improve access to basic utilities for underserved consumers. The GSMA M4D Utilities Innovation Fund is now open for applications!

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If You Are Still Collecting Data on Paper, You Are Wasting Everyone’s Time

Way back in 2001, Satellife pioneered the use of PDA’s for health-related data collection in Uganda and Kenya. In the 15 years since, Satellife became the TechLab at FHI 360 and mobile data collection has become routine and easy with Open Data Kit, countless derivatives, and a whole plethora of companies dedicated to delivering seamless mobile data collection as a service. Yet, there are still people advocating for paper-based surveys and projects that actually send out enumerators with questionnaires and clipboards. Why? Here are five reasons why you are wasting everyone’s time if you are still collecting data on paper.

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Innovations to Accelerate Universal Internet Adoption

Mobile and internet services have the power to transform lives, offering life-enhancing financial, health, and many other services, as well as the simple ability to express oneself to one’s family and community. Yet millions of people in emerging markets lack access to these services, and even those who have access often do not adopt services, because of constraints arising from limited affordability, perceived value, and ability to use the services. The resulting access and adoption gaps threaten to exacerbate existing economic and social inequities facing low-income, rural communities in emerging markets, particularly among women and girls. The Market Alone Will Not Deliver The market alone will not close the access gap. Over time, industry investment in mobile and fixed networks in the developing world may increase and extend existing network coverage, but will likely not expand to connect marginalized populations in unconnected and under-connected geographies because of the high capital and operational costs and low profit potential.

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