In International Development, ICT is an aspect that many people have many doubts about. This is because a majority of ICT initiatives in developing countries fail or because sustainability is difficult in the ICT4D field. The concept of ICT4D can include work with disadvantage population anywhere, but there is a stronger focus with its application in developing countries. The idea of applying IT for poverty reduction is most commonly known by people not within the International Development field. However, ICT can be applied to more whether it is directly to benefit the disadvantaged population or indirectly assist organization (governmental or non-government) to improve a wide variety of socioeconomic conditions. This is something I too didn’t take into account. Before this course, I mainly viewed ICT4D as a concept in International Development that deals mainly with utilizing computers to improve the quality of life for developing countries and help them reduce their poverty rate. However, this semester, I learn that this is not the only case. There are a wide variety of subdivisions within ICT4D. They can range from e-health, to e-business, to e-government, to many more sparking to concept of ICT4D 2.0. The concept of ICT4D 2.0, a new concept to me before this course, is something that will help me as a development professional. Sparking from the late 2000s, the idea of ICT4D 2.0 focuses on reframing the poor, where ICT4D 1.0 was about marginalizing them. Rather than creating a supply-driven focus, ICT4D 2.0 allows a demand-driven focus. ICT4D 2.0 sees the poor as active producers and active innovators. There is now a less “needs” thinking but more of a “wants” thinking in which we access what the poor themselves actually demand.
This is where the concept of information becomes valuable. Information is important because in order to create changes in development, communication of information with those receiving the help is needed. Information is a tool and resource for those receiving help to build self-reliance, empowerment, civil society, and knowledge for the people. On the other hand, often at times donors or organizations think that they know what the poor and marginalized need, but they often don’t. Gathering information from exchanges through communication will allow donors and organizations to find out what the poor needs and find effective ways to delivery those needs. For example, when you go into a country trying to decrease HIV/AIDS rate, you need to gather information on why there is such a high rate of HIV in the area.
Communication is needed because often times, ICT in development tends to concentrate first on technology and only later addresses potential that ICT offer to the poor and marginalized. Communication will allow us to understand and determine what those we help truly need. It is essential in participatory research and development where the researcher will development a relationship and understanding for the community they work in. It is a way to share information and issues that those who need development help want and need, so we can development a plan most suitable to their needs. The gathering of valuable information is done through communicating such as talking and discussing with the population that you are working with in order to have successful delivery of initiatives. The central idea to me about communication is to educate the people so they would accept your work. Ultimately, apart from having a great idea, acceptance from the working population will lead to success. This is something I will take away from the course and remember as I move forward with my career in development. Regardless of if the project is ICT4D based or health based, this concept can be critical; therefore, I would like to see it highlighted more in the future.