ICT4D Lessons Learned

The most salient lesson in ICT is to program for sustainability.  In all areas of development, it is important that projects are designed to be sustainable, but this value is even more crucial in the field of ICT4D. The technological landscape is always evolving, and program implementers need to have a handle of recent developments in this arena so that their projects can be effective over time.  To ensure the sustainability of ICT projects, quality training and monitoring and evaluation procedures must be put in place.

An important lesson that I learned throughout this course was the importance of considering culture in ICT related projects.  Effective ICT4D programs take the culture of the communities they are trying to serve into account.  There is no one size fits all approach to these projects, and different communities have different structures in place that could either help or hinder the implementation of ICT4D programs.  This concept is crucial for development professionals to understand as they generate new initiatives. For example, I wrote a previous blog post this semester about a program called Maji Matone, a text based system where people could report damages to the water pumps in order to spark action by local government. This project inevitably failed because women and young girls were the ones who were getting the water for their family, and in this community primarily men had mobile phones. Understanding cultural differences and researching the culture of the communities could prevent program failure.

This being said, I believe that the bottom up approach is the most useful concept to consider when thinking about and implementing ICT4D programs.  The bottom up approach Garnering the support of the local community, government and institutions and harnessing their support in development practices is essential.  Exploring case studies of effective and unsuccessful ICT projects can help development professionals and students understand the factors that contribute to the favorable or unfavorable outcomes of the programs.

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