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Development is going digital and INGOs like Oxfam have a vital convening role to play. This paper draws on ICT for Development in Oxfam’s programmes in the Horn, East and Central Africa to consider what this role is.  In order to realise the opportunities associated with the digital landscape, Oxfam will need to build internal and external capacity to implement ICT in programmes to enhance quality, accessibility, and efficiency.
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  OXFAM DISCUSSION PAPER FEBRUARY 2017 Oxfam Discussion Papers   Oxfam Discussion Papers are written to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development and humanitarian policy issues. They are ’work in progress’ documents, and do not necessarily constitute final publications or reflect Oxfam policy positions. The views and recommendations expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Oxfam. For more information, or to comment on this paper, email AODonnell@oxfam.org.uk www.oxfam.org     Women read SMS about Polio prevention, Somalia, 2014. Photo: Ahmed Farah/Hijra DIGITAL DEVELOPMENT: WHAT IS THE ROLE FOR INTERNATIONAL NGOS? ICT for Development programmes and opportunities in the Horn, East and Central Africa MATT HAIKIN AND GEORGE FLATTERS Development is going digital and INGOs like Oxfam have a vital convening role to play. This paper draws on ICT for Development in Oxfam’s programmes in the Horn, East and Central Africa to consider what this role is. In order to realise the opportunities associated with the digital landscape, Oxfam will need to build internal and external capacity to implement ICT in programmes to enhance quality, accessibility, and efficiency.  2 Digital   Development: What is the role of International NGOs? ICT for Development programmes and opportunities in the Horn, East and Central Africa   CONTENTS Executive summary .................................................................................. 3   Key lessons ...................................................................................................... 3   Foreword .......................................................................................................... 5    About the authors ............................................................................................. 6    About ICT in Programme at Oxfam GB ............................................................ 7   Glossary ........................................................................................................... 8   1   Introduction ........................................................................................ 9   Background and context ................................................................................... 9   Research and methodology .............................................................................. 9   2   Improving effective use of ICT4D in HECA .................................... 11   2.1 Build on what works and Don’t re -invent the wheel ................................... 11   2.2 Think local to engage users and develop local capacity ........................... 14   2.3 Design iterative programmes involving real end-users.............................. 17   2.4 Understanding what scale means to you .................................................. 20   2.5 Avoid survey fatigue by collaborating on M&E .......................................... 25   2.6 Open development can create opportunities and reduce waste ................ 29   2.7 Understand organisations’ differing roles and goals  ................................. 31   2.8 Don’t forget about connectivity  ................................................................. 34   3   Key ICT4D opportunities for INGOs in HECA ................................ 36   3.1 INGOs as convenors and helping to build local capacity .......................... 36   3.2 Collaboration with other NGOs, technology providers and local actors ..... 38   3.3 NGOs advocating to donors, funders, and governments .......................... 40   4   How can INGOs Improve their ‘ICT in Programme’ work in Africa?  42    Appendix A: List of research participants ........................................................ 45    Appendix B: Survey data summary ................................................................ 48    Appendix C: Tips on successfully scaling ICT4D pilots ................................... 50    Appendix D: Common misunderstandings about ‘open technology’  ............... 52   Bibliography ................................................................................................... 54   Notes.............................................................................................................. 59    Digital Development: What is the role of International NGOs? ICT for Development programmes and opportunities in the Horn, East and Central Africa 3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   Development is going digital and INGOs like Oxfam have a vital convening role to play. T his study into ICT for Development in Oxfam’s programmes in the Horn, East and Central Africa set out to explore this role. In order to realise the opportunities associated with the digital landscape, Oxfam will need to build internal and external capacity for applying ICT in programmes to enhance quality, accessibility, and efficiency. The World Bank’s ‘World Development Report 2016’, Digital Dividends , states that we are ‘ in the midst of the greatest information and communications revolution in human history ’,  and invites us to ‘ take advantage of this rapid technological change to make the world more prosperous and inclusive ’ .   (World Bank, 2016) Transformative successes have been achieved by those harnessing information and communication technologies (ICT) for development (ICT4D), and yet many people still lack access to ICT, and there is a sense that more needs to be done to understand how technology can best support humanitarian and development initiatives. In January 2016, Oxfam commissioned research to explore these issues in the Horn, East and Central  Africa (HECA) region, where there is a burgeoning technology scene and numerous development projects incorporating ICT. The objectives of the research were: to explore what actors in the region consider good and bad practice; to ask where they see the most interesting opportunities in the future; and to bring this together in a form that informs the role of INGOs using ICT4D, especially in the HECA region. Between February and April 2016, following an extensive literature review, interviews were conducted with relevant private, public and civil society sector professionals; a workshop was held, bringing together diverse ICT and development practitioners from several African countries; and an online survey was launched (receiving 284 responses). This report provides the analysis and key lessons from this research, including recommendations for Oxfam and other INGOs on the use of ICT. KEY LESSONS Many of the lessons from this research in the HECA region echo common ICT4D themes (such as those raised in the Principles for Digital Development 1 ). The report recommendations include the implementation of principles which are not necessarily acted upon, while others are new or specific to the HECA region: Build on w hat works and don’t re -invent the wheel: Most things have been tried before, yet there can be an instinct to develop new tools from scratch. Where appropriate tools are already available, programmes should instead adopt a policy of 'buy or adapt by default'. Think local to engage with users and develop local capacity: Local relevance and local production of content is critical to engaging end-users. Models which have been tried demonstrate lessons about dissemination and about supporting local organisations.  Design iterative programmes involving real end-users: Such approaches produce better results for the development sector  — a truth almost universally acknowledged. However, there appear to be skill gaps and structural factors limiting the take-up of these ways of working.  4 Digital   Development: What is the role of International NGOs? ICT for Development programmes and opportunities in the Horn, East and Central Africa   Scaling is hard, but a common understanding helps: Scaling up from pilot projects is difficult, as is sustainability at scale. A common understanding of concepts between actors would help — as would funding specifically aimed at the scaling phase. Combat survey fatigue by collaborating on monitoring and evaluation: The ease with which ICT can be used for monitoring and evaluation has in some instances contributed to ‘survey fatigue’. Collaborating across projects, programmes and even organisational boundaries can help counter this. Open development can create opportunities and reduce waste: There is widespread confusion over the concept of ‘openness’ in ICT4D ( open source, open data, etc.), leading to missed opportunities to share resources, reduce costs and improve results. Understand how different private sector actors can integrate with NGOs’ duty of care: For long-term success, local and international private sector actors are critical. A more nuanced understanding of how INGOs can work with these stakeholders is needed.   Don’t forget about connectivity :  Access and connectivity are still significant barriers to participation, despite an increasing perception to the contrary. NGOs have a role to play in advocating for innovative last-mile connectivity solutions.   Convene, collaborate, and advocate: roles and opportunities for Oxfam and other INGOs in HECA The key messages that emerged from the research in relation to the role of INGOs active in ICT4D are: ã   Act as conveners to improve the use of ICT across the region:  There is an unfulfilled role for a convener of different actors across different sectors to help them work together, share best practice and develop capacity, particularly in the civil society and start-up sectors. ã   Collaborate with NGOs, civil society and other actors:  Local networks and long-term relationships could enable Oxfam or other INGOs to take on this role, or to be part of a network brokering connections and knowledge sharing between tech organisations, NGOs, funders/donors and civil society partners. ã   Advocate at all levels: INGOs ’  important relationships with delivery partners and global and national funders allow them to play a valuable advocacy role, seeking to ensure that best practice is mainstreamed in funding and partnerships. Recommendations for Oxfam: develop a structure to enhance ICT work in HECA Finally, the report focuses on what the findings mean for Oxfam’s operations in the HECA region and beyond. Oxfam should make digital literacy — and knowledge of how to apply technology to development problems — core competencies for delivery staff and senior management. This would help maximise the potential of ICT in Oxfam’s future work.  It is also recommended that Oxfam should hire or train more business analysts, and increase its in- country ‘ICT in Programme’ staff. This should be done in a way that ensures a level of global consistency and quality, perhaps using a matrix management approach. While some of these recommendations are specific to Oxfam’s activities and structure, many were echoed by the wider community and reflect opportunities and challenges for other INGOs working in the region.
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