Report. Evaluation of the Open Data for Development program

Cover of the report for the Evaluation of the Open Data for Development program

From October 2016 to June 2017, Manuel Acevedo and I conducted the evaluation of the Open Data for Development program, a USD 15 million initiative (direct plus indirect funding) led by IDRC, the Government of Canada, The World Bank and DFID / UK Aid.

This has been a terrific experience on many levels. The most important one was acknowledging how advanced the field is and, even more important, how deep the sensation is that a point of no return has been crossed in terms of open data, open government, transparency, accountability, open development, etc. Some important outcomes will, of course, still take some time to take place, but the path is been paved and the trend is gaining momentum quickly, adding up critical mass at each stage.

The collaboration and excellent attitude of all the actors involved in the project (we interviewed 41 people and read more than 150 working documents and 128 bibliographic references) was another aspect of the work that is worth highlighting. Special gratitude goes to Fernando Perini, Erika Malich, Katie Clancy and Tricia Wind at IDRC. It is not every day that one finds people so willing to have their work thoroughly scrutinized, to explain things without making excuses, to expect the evaluation to be an opportunity to learn and to improve. Same goes for the team at the World Bank and the Government of Canada (especially Amparo Ballivian and Yohanna Loucheur, respectively).

This impression of people taking seriously their work, including third parties’ evaluation and insights is confirmed not only by the publication of the report with the evaluation of the Open Data for Development program, but also the publication of the response of the Management of the program to our evaluation, providing both context and commitment to the recommendations made by the evaluators.

Below can be downloaded the three documents generated by the evaluation: the full final report, the executive report and the management’s response.

If I am allowed to, I would like to state that both Manuel and I are quite proud of the recommendations we made at the final section of our evaluation. Of course, the recommendations come from the many and richest inputs that everyone we talked to or read about kindly gave us. These recommendations are as follows.

  • OD4D: greater emphasis on the right side of the OD4D equation (i.e. “for development”)
  • Reticulating OD4D: towards an expanded network vision for OD4D
  • Build capacity for gender-purposeful programming
  • Invest in strategic partnerships
  • Greater engagement with the D4D community
  • Support OD intermediaries
  • Place knowledge management at the core of OD4D implementation processes

We hope the evaluation and, especially, the recommendations are useful not only for the program but for the whole open data and open data for development community. We remain at the disposal of anyone in need of more information, doubts or suggestions.

Abstract:

The evaluation focuses on both accountability and learning. The primary intention of the evaluation is to provide accountability to the program’s management and organizational governance structures for program results. In addition, it reflects upon OD4D’s implementation in order to inform future programming on open data for development themes. The process was guided by five evaluative questions, on (1) Results, (2) Design, (3) Management, (4) Policy and (5) Gender. The evaluation report addresses these five topics, and also refers to some cross-cutting issues which were identified during the process. The analysis is completed with a final section with key recommendations for the upcoming new phase of the program.

Downloads:

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Full report:
Acevedo, M. & Peña-López, I. (2017). Evaluation of the Open Data for Development program. Final report. Ottawa: IDRC.
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Executive summary:
Acevedo, M. & Peña-López, I. (2017). Evaluation of the Open Data for Development program. Executive report. Ottawa: IDRC.
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Management’s response:
International Development Research Center (2017). Management’s response to the independent evaluation of the OD4D program. Ottawa: IDRC.

Book Chapter: Key factors for successful ICT4D projects: How can telecoms contribute.

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ESADE‘s Institute for Social Innovation has just published a new book authored by Mar Cordobés and Beatriz Sanz, and coordinated by Sonia Navarro: TIC, desarrollo y negocios inclusivos [ICT, inclusive development and businesses].

The book deals about Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) but, provided that ESADE is a business school, the approach heavily relies on the role of businesses in achieving this development through ICTs.

The book begins with two initial chapters on ICTs in social inclusion and the role of global businesses in development under the approach of “inclusive markets”. The second part of the book is made up by an analysis of several cases in the field of e-commerce, e-agriculture, learning and training, e-health, e-governance or online volunteering, to name a few.

Part III devotes three chapters to the conclusions and advice for policy-makers, being Part IV four more chapters written by invited contributors (amongst them, yours truly):

  • Manuel Acevedo: ICT and human development in Latin America.
  • Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol: Mobile communication and social development in Latin America.
  • Ismael Peña-López: Key factors for successful ICT4D projects: How can telecoms contribute.
  • Vanessa Frías-Martínez: Mobile phones and emergent markets in Latin America.

In what concerns my book chapter, Key factors for successful ICT4D projects: How can telecommunication businesses contribute to the advancement in ICT4D, I begin speaking about general concepts like development, the Information Society and their relationship. I go on stating that digital infrastructures do not necessarily lead to social development, being them “only” a necessary but not sufficient condition that goes in parallel with other important aspects such as a powerful industry, digital literacy, a regulatory framework, or a wide supply of digital content and services.

I end up listing what I think are the three main roles for telecoms in ICT4D:

  1. To lower down the “last” barriers of access in what refers to infrastructures: usability, accessibility and affordability.
  2. Once physical access is no more an issue, to work for utility, capacity and e-awareness. That is, to raise awareness not only on what can ICTs can be used for, but on how they are transforming our lives and creating new arrays of exclusion for those that do not skilfully use them.
  3. Last, but not least, to mind the context: ICTs are a tool and, as such, they multiply the reality they are used in. In this sense, it is very important to remind that ICTs stand for “information” and “communication” technologies, and thus the knowledge gap is a hypothesis that is increasingly been backed up with evidence.

Download the chapter:

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Ismael Peña-López (2012).
Factores clave para el éxito en los proyectos ICT4D. ¿Cómo las empresas de telecomunicaciones pueden contribuir al avance en este ámbito?“. En Cordobés, M., Sanz, B. & Navarro, S. (Coord.) , TIC, desarrollo y negocios inclusivos, Capítulo 13, 183-192. Madrid: Fundación Telefónica, Editorial Ariel.

Download the full book:

Download from the official website.

Alternate download:

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Cordobés, M., Sanz, B. & Navarro, S. (Coord.), (2012).
TIC, desarrollo y negocios inclusivos. Madrid: Fundación Telefónica, Editorial Ariel.

Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (XV). Networks

Notes from the Fifth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2010, held at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, on September 9-10th, 2010. More notes on this event: ipid2010.

Empowering network development cooperation models
Manuel Acevedo

Objectives of the thesis: to characterize networked development cooperation and propose a model for it; and to examine the degree of appropriateness of “enabling networks” that are most appropriate for development cooperation.

One of the main problems today for analysing networks is that everything seems to be a network or to be in one. So a first question should be to clearly identify what is and what not a network.

Despite the aforementioned aspect, development work and the development system does not seem to be really networked and instead be adapting very slowly to the Network Society.

Hypotheses:

  • The adoption of network processes and structures would contribute to the “efficacy of aid”.
  • The introduction of net main strategies conditions success adoption.
  • The functional profiles of “enabling types” of networks, once in place, are more appropriate for development cooperation.

Conceptual elements: human development (Sen), network society (Castells), openness and access to information (IDRC), innovation as a driver of change and development 2.0 framework (Heeks).

The main purpose is to explore network-based development cooperation mechanisms and see whether capacity is more widespread, whether freedom complements talent, and whether networks are good operational mechanisms to get those results.

We can categorize networks according to purpose (knowledge, project, policy, etc.), morphology, constituents (staff, organizations, volunteers, etc.), working style…

While a representational network acts on behalf of its members, an enabling member pursues the strengthening of the capabilities of the members of the network, taking advantage of the attributes of the network, providing tools, methodologies, helping non-members to join in, etc.

The research will gather evidence on how is/are the cooperation network(s) like and how do they work. After that, the intensity of the network (network intensity index, NII) will be measured to test their performance, especially idenfiying the weaknesses so recommendations for improvement can be made. Issues that the index will cover are structure, management, functionality and results. The difficulty will be, of course, in defining the appropriate indicators and collecting all the data.

Some networks that will be analyzed are Telecentre.org, APC in Latin America and the Caribbean, InfoDesarrollo (Peru), TICBolivia, CONGDE, IICD. These are very different networks.

Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2010)