Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (IV). Rural Communities

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.

Sustainability Action Plan and Validation for ICT projects in rural areas of developing Countries
Inés Bebea González

Working in the framework of a huge ICT4D programme run by EHAS Foundation, mainly focused in e-Health for development, linking the primary healthcare system via Wi-Fi in the Amazon.

Measurement of ICT4D project results: appropriateness, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability. Main hypothesis: Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) implementation will reduce sustainability failure risk of ICT project in Napo, turning this project into success also inters of sustainability.

Several parts of the plans were analyzed:

  • The institutional and financial plan, that should lead to institutional change management.
  • The operative maintenance plan, based on a historical knowledge of network status and a layered maintenance team.
  • The failure diagnosis and incidence management system, following (tech) monitoring protocol standards.
  • The continuous learning plan, with the goal to turn information into knowledge, and to avoid the drawbacks of high rotation within staff (see Batchelor, S. and Norrish, P. (2003) Sustainable information and communication technology (ICT). Reading: Gamos).

Data show a risk reduction between 33% and 65% of sustainability failure after application of the sustainability action plan.


Q: Two suggestions. The first one, is to leverage the power of the community, especially students in higher education. The second one, is to include a security scheme, which seemed absent in the presentation. A: Definitely, volunteering programmes do apply in this kind of projects.

Usability testing of educational tool for secondary level children: A case of Sura ya UKIMWI
Barun Khanal

e-Learning platform in English and Swahili that has to be effective, efficient, engaging, error tolerant and easy to learn (the 5 E’s by Quesenberry, 2001).

Usability is not validation, it has to be embedded into the process, not put at the end. This means including real users and self-criticism

Educational tools deserve a special approach than business or commercial or work context tools.

In usability testing, it is as important as the feedback to analyze how the process itself has been perceived by the users. Many users are just not used to provide feedback, especially structured and formal feedback. Seeing how they react to usuability testing is also a way to test their skills, their perceptions, they cultural framework, how they behave in front of the technology, the usability of the test, etc.



Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2010)

Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (III). e-Agriculture

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.

E-agriculture in Kenya: appropriation of mobile devices and the emergence of new networks of agricultural communication
Ugo Vallauri

How do we cope with such a complex concept as sustainable agriculture? Jules Pretty:

  • Minimize the use of non-renewable inputs.
  • Make productive use of knowledge and skills of farmers.
  • make productive use of people’s collective capacities to work together to solve common agricultural and natural resource problems.

e-Agriculture includes innovation cloud (research, academia, development), extension and farmers (and their communities), market prices, information and logistics in trade cycle.

The research will take place in Kenya, working on a project that supports community-based interventions based around infomediaries equipped with laptops fit with up-to-date locally relevant agricultural content.

The project is very interesting in the fact that the laptop that infomediaries use is an XO (i.e. OLPC $100 laptop), but not used individually, but by a collective, and not used in an educational context, but for agricultural information.

On the other hand, a prior insight has been put into differentiating mobiles vs. mobility. That is why the laptop was chosen and not a cellphone, to avoid the identification of the device with the real matter, and to avoid too some politics of technology choices.

The project will assess both the technical feasibility and scaling-up, and the impact of the technology adoption.


Vanessa Frías: does technology really does not matter? are PCs really similar to cellulars? A: not that they are similar, but sometimes they take the focus out of what is more relevant, which is mobility.

Annotated agriculture videos for mediator and community skill development
Shweta Pareek

Digital Green model: DG-concept sharing, training, video shooting, editing, dissemination, adoption. All takes place within the framework of a village community, working with partners that already exist in rural areas.

Videos on agriculture are taped, annotated and enriches with multiple choice questions, comments, pictorial representations, etc.

Videos have different ranges of impact depending on the topic covered. Added to that, annotated videos have higher impact than just videos, slightly higher in some cases (e.g. Chilli nursery bed), much higher in some others (Applications of jeevamruta).

Reasons for more adoption: like the narration behind each annotation, enhance information, update information, just not watching but learning, feel new from modified videos, improve learning skills.

Total cost of software to making a video does not differ with the one to make an improved video. The “real” cost comes in time, where the amount of time to edit the videos almost doubles from standard videos to enhanced ones.


Ugo Vallauri: how were data gathered to compare the two kinds of video? A: Data come from the different groups that used different kinds of video, that is, some groups used annotated video some others didn’t.

Tim Unwin: how were ethnic differences taken into account? A: The project targeted Self-Help groups working in Indian language. But the project is already partnering with other local organizations to be able to reach other ethnicities.

Salma Abbasi: how enabling are the men in the community with the women that are using these videos? How do men treat the women following the training? A: Men usually ignore the issue and don’t make a problem out of it.


Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2010)

Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (II). Gender

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.

ICT Policy Analysis in Muslim Countries – Women’s perspective
Salma Abbasi

Categories of barriers and challenges that came up when analyzing the impact of ICTs in people’s lives: Culture and society, language relevancy, gender bias in the industry, ICT policy, technology and technophobia.

The influence of ICT Policies has been stated to have a deep influence in the adoption of ICT by women. Notwithstanding, the gender issue, or the differences between men’s and women’s differentiated positions are usually not considered in policy, included especial issues related to women (e.g. motherhood) and, by extension, to many other collectives.

These barriers affect the phases of design, formulation process and monitoring and data. And, so, they do have consequences as exclusion from the information society, isolation, further marginalization, etc.

Main barriers identified: economic aspects, knowledge capability, cultural and social aspects, implementation and monitoring.

If women differentiation has an impact, do policies include this issue?

Policy analyses and direct interviews show that, in general, there are very few mentions to women in ICT policies, and much less references to girls, gender, inclusion, marginalized or men.

Where have been women been referenced in ICT policies and plans?

Ghana, Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Lebanon, KSA or Afphanistan are the leading countries in considering women in their ICT plans, though in different issues. Similar results we get when we look at the barriers and how they are addressed in the policy texts, though only 13 out of 51 key barriers were mentioned.

When it comes to women being involved in the policy formulation process, results show that this kind of participation is rare, being led in the good side by Saudi Arabia.


Ismael Peña-López: Does gender in ICT Policies correlate with the situation of women in a country? A: Not at all: it’s all about the context. There are some countries (e.g. Afghanistan) were paper does not match reality, while in others (e.g. Saudi Arabia) nominally women have fewer rights but policies are very active even if not formally pro-women.

Chris Foster: why muslim countries? Are policy recommendations possible? A: There is few literature in (a) policies (b) muslim countries (c) muslim countries and women and ICT policies. And a second part of the research is about implementation and monitoring.


Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2010)

Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (I). Tim Unwin: Impact Assessment

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.

Impact Assessment
Tim Unwin.

We need to know who is driving impact assessment and what for.

  • Impact: what has changed. Long term change.
  • Output: what we did. Goods or services produced.
  • Outcome: what happened. Changes in the use of those outputs.

The Logic Model: inputs are put to work in activities, generating outputs and, at the end, outcomes. The log frame approach crosses goals, purposes, outputs and outcomes and analyzes them during the different processes, with different indicators, etc.

Impact would include the long-term intended and unintended consequences of our action, of the outcomes.

The problem with some impact assessment models is that they might measure the performance in managerial terms, but not much in developmental terms. in fact, impact assessment might end up in programme evaluation, not in impact evaluation itself, thus making ends often driving the means. On the other hand, criteria might be set in advance by the evaluation promoter.

Terry Smutylo’s Output Outcome Downstream Impact Blues.

But there are reasons for focus on impact, like where and when to scale a pilot project.

Cause and effect are very difficult to establish, especially attribution, that is, identifying what is the cause. If the impact is placed in the (very) long-term, things get even more difficult. Indeed, experimenting in the field of ICT4D can neither be possible nor be ethically accepted (i.e. “are you going to experiment with people’s welfare?”), making research and measuring the impact of that research really challenging.

In development, quite often it is more about the “why” rather than the “what” happened. This is especially relevant when different contexts might bring different impacts for the same cause given.

If nevertheless impact assessment is to be done, we need to have a clear benchmark of what has been done, test with different samples and contexts, etc.


Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2010)

IPID ICT4D Posgraduate Conference 2010: Call for communications

We are proud to announce that the 2010 Annual Conference of the International Network for Postgraduate Students in the Area of ICT4D (IPID) will be held the 9th-10th September 2010 at Universitat Politècnica de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

This is a mainly academic conference, with all its procedures, but much more informal and constructive than usual. Its main purpose is twofold:

  • To let postgraduate students present short papers about their research in a supportive environment where they can gain positive feedback from other participants;
  • To provide an opportunity to discuss key themes of interest to ICT4D postgraduates. The conference organisers would be pleased to hear from potential participants about the themes they would like to have discussed.

Ways to participate:

  • If you are a postgraduate student — master, PhD — in ICT4D, this is your place. Come and share your research, whatever the stage of development it is in. You’ll get guidance and support, and will meet with other people like you struggling in this new discipline.
  • If you are a scholar and want to be aware of the cutting edge research on ICT4D, this is your place too: the ideas presented in the conference are always thrilling in many ways. You might want to organize a workshop and/or be part of our senior board that’ll help too in providing some structured feedback to the students presenting their research.
  • If you are a practitioner or a policy-maker in ICT4D, we saved room for you too. Though the event is academic in its essence, you’ll see plenty of applied work and theoretical background to base that applied work.

Important data:

Please stay tuned to IPID’s blog, where we will publish a link to the registration form. Fees will not be higher than 140€ and we are working to keep them at 0€. Fees will include all meals and materials during the event (coffee breaks, lunch and dinner for days 9th and 10th). Accomodation in Barcelona will cost you circa 50€ if you find place on a students residence (we’re working on that too).

Please send any inquieries to and, please, spread the word!