Last week we attended the Easing the Burden Workshop in Washington, D.C. Hosted by the World Bank and the Program for Forests, the workshop focused on using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to enhance data collection and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) in the agriculture and forestry sectors. We were thrilled that iFormBuilder was used to check-in attendees and collect data, but even more thrilled that we were asked to present!
Chris Reichart (our CBO) presented on Capturing Good Data in the Disconnected World. Times are changing. With the help of mobile phones, it is now possible for people in developing countries to access information that was not previously available. The poverty-reducing effects of ICT has shifted the focus of many development agencies, NGOs, and governments. Data collection and M&E is now a top priority. Industry leaders are determined to design and implement programs that better serve citizens. Beyond a one-and-done solution, a strong focus is placed on analyzing the successes or failures of projects and improving upon them. Due to ICT innovations, programs are being designed based on unique households, preferences, and natural resources.
The workshop strived to expand the knowledge base of practitioners who work in rural sectors and who are not necessarily tech-savvy. From the workshop, here are some of the major takeaways and remaining challenges:
- Technology can be used to coordinate existing projects and structure work program for community professionals
- Incentives for excellence can help people aspire, and therefore achieves more complete data collection
- M&E may be required to fulfill donor requirements, but it also needs to be translated into added value in order for communities to take ownership
- Project and communities are now in a better position to implement two-way communication as mobile adoption improves among farmers
- Due to divergent data systems and formats, global tools often require country contextualization, and are not a one-size-fits all approach
- Layering different types of data onto a map helps practitioners identify new areas of analysis that would have been missed if it remained no-spatial
- Cost sustainability: deciding whether technology investments are cost-effective is not always clear, especially for cost accrued over time
- Open data policies: putting information online and making it publically available requires oversight; policies on what should be included and protected is important in the digital space
Peaked your interest? Visit the ICT in Agriculture website for more information!
*Belden, Cory, Tuukka Castren, Troy Etulain, Eija Pehu, and Priya Surya. Brief of a forthcoming report from Agriculture and Environmental Services (AES) in the World Bank on: ICT for Data Collection and Monitoring and Evaluation in the Agriculture and Forestry Sectors. Mar. 2013. Print.