Well-planned community engagement (i.e., listening to, and following through) is the key to how innovation can sustainably be incorporated into ICT4D projects. One Salon participant said, that project success is about 25%-35% technology, with the remainder as to how it’s incorporated into the local community context, who buys in, and how workers are sensitized to the project.
Engagement means gaining the trust with decision-making being participatory. Digital technology allows one to multiply the way to engage stakeholders . But engagement is only the first step - which has implications at the local level, as well as managing donor expectations and drive for results and progress. A common theme was the need for education donors to consider designing projects that build on successful initiatives rather than trying to create something new (i.e., innovation challenge grants), and focus on funding and scaling up models that work and are really effective.
Many Interventions, Not Just One
Community radio still overwhelmingly reaches most people, but mobiles are catching up However, regardless of the technology used, there’s still a disconnect between what the funders want, and what the community needs - it is often a case of well-intentioned people with a hammer, looking for nails…
Participants said multiple tools and different approaches are needed to achieve the outcomes that make a difference in people’s lives. Consider:
- SIM cards are more important than phone ownership
- Gender differences - men communicate through mobiles even as a way to get radio - women have limited access to mobiles and depend more upon the older technology - specifically, radios.
- Reality radio in Mali - youth connecting with agriculture to try different approaches and show what’s possible.
- The One Laptop Per Child project- focuses primarily on the end-user, but teachers are also important to engage with (and are the decision-makers) to get them on your side.
- As more women get into the design of phones, the mobile form factor may change
- Cheaper devices increase the likelihood that young people will have them.