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Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL)

Advancing an inclusive digital society


October 24, 2017

Practicing the Principles of Digital Development in East Africa: Dar es Salaam 2017

By | Blog, Digital development, Launch, Principles for Digital Development, Sustainable Development Goals, Tech innovations

On Oct. 12, 2017, a diverse group of over 100 digital development professionals gathered in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to discuss how to put the Principles for Digital Development into practice within the context of East Africa’s rapid growth. This event was the first event in a three-part series of events organized by the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), focused on sharing innovations directly from implementers and practical guidance on the Digital Principles. In Dar es Salaam, the discussion focused on three of the nine Principles – Be Collaborative, Design with the User and Understand the Ecosystem.

With a variety of representatives from the private sector, NGOs, Tanzanian government and more, participants all brought an array of perspectives and concrete examples of how the Principles for Digital Development—nine “living” guidelines designed to help digital development practitioners integrate established best practices into technology-enabled programs—had impacted their work. As a result, the day was full of thought-provoking presentations, open and honest conversations among peers and workshops with real-world applications.

Below are some of the highlights, and you can also check out the livestream archived on DIAL’s facebook page here.

The morning began with Carolyn Florey, DIAL’s Director of Collective Impact, who provided a brief history and background of the Principles, which grounded conversations among participants throughout the day.

Engineer Clarence Ichwekeleza, the Director of Communications at Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications in Tanzania, delivered the opening keynote and provided additional framing for the day by addressing the local digital ecosystem. She touched on the abundant opportunities in East Africa, the challenges that remain and how the Digital Principles could help technology-enabled development programs be more effective and efficient in Tanzania and beyond.

The momentum continued as a high-level plenary engaged in an open and frank discussion about one of the Digital Principles: Be Collaborative. They highlighted successes and provided examples of common challenges that arise when collaborating across the private and public sectors.

The next Principle featured, Design with the User, was framed around eight insightful lightning talks from implementers who have worked through the inclusive human-centered design process and therefore could share learnings from the experience. Speakers included:

  • Eric Layer, Chief Program Officer at D-Tree International
  • Eliguard Dawson, Tanzania Country Officer at the Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT)
  • Obedy Kamajenzi, Graphics System Designer and ICT Consultant at DataVision International
  • Nisha Ligon, Co-founder and CEO of Ubongo Kids
  • Ivan Gayton, Senior Consultant at HOT Tanzania/Ramani Huria
  • JoyAnne Muthee, Regional Designer for Medic Mobile
  • Ephraim Tonya, Project Manager at Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
  • Alfred Mchau, VillageReach

For the third Principle, Understand the Ecosystem, HDIF Team Leader David McGinty shared real-life examples that highlighted the need to understand the existing ecosystem to inform how digital development programs are designed, implemented and monitored. Participants then moved into a workshop session where groups mapped out their personal ecosystems and shared the results.

Marrying all the conversations and learnings from the day, a panel focused on the impact of the Principles—including stories from implementers and funders in East Africa on why the Digital Principles are important in their work and how they have helped to improve their programs. The all-female plenary was made up of Lea Gimpel from GIZ, Woinde Shisael of Tigo, Hannah Metcalfe of HNI, Edith Turuka of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications and was moderated by Iku Lazaro of Shule Direct. A discussion highlight was each speaker sharing their favorite Principle and the one that they find most challenging to implement.

The closing keynote was given by the Better Immunization Data (BID) Initiative Tanzania Director at PATH, Henry Mwanyika, and encapsulated the day’s discussions within the context of the local ecosystem. He discussed the future of digital development in East Africa, particularly Tanzania, as exciting and inspiring, but not without its challenges. By using the Principles, he believed the challenges could be met and resolved, and that progress would continue.

Digitalization is creating more opportunities than ever before. But it requires a mindset change that we need to embrace. – Henry Mwanyika

To cap the day’s activities and productive discussions, the Digital Impact Alliance CEO, Kate Wilson, delivered remarks calling on the participants to stay engaged with the Digital Principles community to tackle together the challenges we face so that strides in digital development benefit all people, everywhere.

Hope you act upon what learned today so the #digitalprinciples turn into action @DIAL_Kate @DIAL_community

The next event will be held in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, December 7, in FHI 360’s Academy Hall. The three principles featured at this event will be Address Privacy and Security, Be Data Driven and Use Open Standards, Open Data, Open Source and Open Innovation. If your organization is interested in partnering with DIAL to design workshop sessions for this event, please contact the Digital Principles Program Manager, Allana Nelson, at anelson@digitalimpactalliance.org

Join the conversation and engage with your fellow digital development practitioners on the new Digital Principles Forum at http://forum.digitalprinciples.org/




September 29, 2017

From Farm to Phone to Table: A Case Study Series Explores the Impact of Digital Tools on Agriculture

By | Blog, Digital development, Global development, ICT4D, Principles for Digital Development, Sustainable Development Goals, Tech innovations

Cross-Posted from NextBillion

Over the past 10 years, and particularly over the past five, the use of mobile phones and internet-enabled, digital tools in farming activities has skyrocketed. Today, the smartphone or tablet is no longer seen just in the developed world; at least one mobile phone now sits in the pockets or hands of over 60 percent of the population in the developing world. Coupled with the increased spread of 3G and 4G connectivity, and the growing presence of mobile money products, low-cost sensors, geospatial visualization and machine learning, what has emerged is a broad set of digitally based applications that have driven greater financial inclusion, more precision agriculture, better data collection and analytics, and more effective information dissemination. Agricultural organizations are increasingly embracing these tools to better provide for the welfare of the communities they serve.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, through the U.S. Global Development Lab and the Bureau for Food Security, is working to demonstrate that digital tools and approaches can improve cost-effectiveness and better development outcomes in food security and nutrition programs. As part of this effort, USAID is launching a case study series to highlight different approaches to digital tool adoption and how these tools are impacting organizational culture, operations and programming.

The series profiles different organizations, from social enterprises to non-governmental organizations and traditional private businesses across a number of regions, from sub-Saharan Africa to Latin America to South and Southeast Asia. Greater attention is being given to Feed the Future (the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative) countries and the newly released target countries under the Global Food Security Strategy. Most organizations and projects being showcased have received some form of USAID assistance.

Using Digital Tools to Enhance Food Security, Nutrition Programs

Monitoring and Evaluation enumerator Isaac Masebo interviews smallholder farmer Diana Nalianya about which crops she grows in her field and why as part of a survey to help One Acre Fund learn more about the farmers they serve. Isaac uses a tablet to record Diana’s answers. (Photo by Hailey Tucker, One Acre Fund)

Monitoring and Evaluation enumerator Isaac Masebo interviews smallholder farmer Diana Nalianya about which crops she grows in her field and why as part of a survey to help One Acre Fund learn more about the farmers they serve. Isaac uses a tablet to record Diana’s answers. (Photo by Hailey Tucker, One Acre Fund)

Each case study examines the specific digital landscape in which the activity is operating and how this affects the choice of tools and options for dissemination. No two digital integration experiences are the same, and the case studies reveal the adoption of a diverse set of digital tools ranging in complexity, customization and focus. In Senegal, for instance, Naatal Mbay is using basic tools like Microsoft Excel and Dropbox to demonstrate to producer-serving organizations the power of data for more effective programming. In contrast, One Acre Fund built a custom tablet app to enroll clients faster and with fewer mistakes. The new app replaces a paper-based process for field officers and prompts them to nudge clients about new and tailored products available for purchase.

A key focus of the series is on understanding the collective impact of digital tools while trying to assess the status quo without them. Among other benefits, they are expected to accelerate the achievement and deepen the impact of development objectives, leading for example to greater productivity or more inclusive financial outcomes. Capturing this impact can be elusive given that few organizations have begun to measure the additional impact that digital tools can produce. That’s why impact is understood in a number of different ways across the case studies. Where quantitative data is available, it is highlighted. For example, in Senegal, the predecessor project to Naatal Mbay, Projet Croissance Economique, attributed a 25 percent increase in maize yields for 25,000 farmers to its digital data management systems.

Elsewhere, impact is understood by capturing the changed image users of the digital tools have of themselves and of their work. Take for instance a female field officer for One Acre Fund who explained how using a tablet to enroll clients made her feel “more professional,” enabling her to “approach a farmer with confidence” that she will get the attention she deserves. Or consider a male farmer in Senegal who explained: “I used to think that the computers were something that only the people in offices used. They were not something that farmers could use. But these tools are important [for us] because they help the farmers understand the size of their plots. And with GPS, farmers know precisely how much seed and inputs to apply and they can better understand performance. Before we didn’t have context for [understanding] our performance.”

The case studies conclude with reflections from users about what they have learned through the digital integration process. These are framed through the lens of the Principles for Digital Development, a set of best practices developed and endorsed by donors and the development community, across more than 100 organizations, to guide and inform technology-enabled development programs.

Few organizations are successful in operationalizing all the principles at this stage, but most are on a path of continual learning and growth.So far, four case studies have been completed and two more are in the works.  But we’re on the lookout for up to six more. The number of agricultural projects and organizations that are embracing digital technologies continues to grow. For those that are seeing success from your efforts, we would like to showcase your work. If you’re interested, or if you know of a project that fits the bill – either within the Feed the Future Initiative or across the agricultural sector more broadly – please reach out to us here.

By Cristina Manfre  and Christopher Burns. Cristina Manfre is senior associate with Cultural Practice, LLC.  Christopher Burns is the senior coordinator, digital development for Feed the Future at USAID. Photos by Hailey Tucker, One Acre Fund



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