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8 Reasons Why International Development Organizations Need Digital Development Advisors

By Wayan Vota on April 24, 2024

Digital Technology Advisors in International Development Organizations

Recently, I was asked a very topical question by the CEO a major international relief organization, “How can international development programs leverage digital technology to improve humanitarian impact?” I thought about her question and its natural corollary question, “Why do international development organizations need digital development advisors?”

The answer is simple: Today, we are doing development in a digital world and we must deliver humanitarian relief services virtually, reaching constituents we’ve never met, engaging them directly, hearing their feedback instantly, and sharing our success (or failure) in real time, using ICT4D solutions. Digital technology advisors help international development organizations deliver humanitarian relief using ICT4D solutions.

Why Do We Need Digital Development Advisors?

International development organizations increasingly recognize the importance of integrating Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) into their programs. Digital development advisors play a crucial role in doing development in a digital world.

Tech4Good advisors recognize that the old paradigms are gone, and the world has shifted to a new framework. Emerging technologies like generative artificial intelligence is the future pulled forward to the present and is integral for effective humanitarian relief programs.

Digital technology advisors enable humanitarian organizations to effectively utilize technology to bridge the digital divide, enhance program efficiency, facilitate data-driven decision-making, support disaster response, promote local innovation, and align initiatives with the SDGs. They provide in-depth insights into critical ICT4D solution areas.

8 Reasons for Digital Development Advisors

Digital development advisors are essential for international development organizations. ICT4D advisors play a crucial role in helping international development organizations overcome challenges in implementing ICT4D solutions.They also help host countries develop policies that foster an open, secure, and inclusive digital ecosystems.

They are instrumental in providing technical guidance, capacity strengthening, cybersecurity best practices, and strategic support to international development organizations, enabling them to effectively implement ICT4D solutions and maximize their impact on development programs.

Here are 8 reasons why international development organizations need digital technology advisors in humanitarian relief programs:

1. Bridge the Digital Divide

ICT4D advisors help bridge the digital divide by ensuring that technology benefits reach the most marginalized and remote populations. By understanding the local context, digital development advisors can implement technologies that are accessible and relevant to these communities. Organizations like the World Bank insist that digital development emphasize the importance of bridging the digital divide to achieve inclusive growth – the benefits of digitalization must be accessible to all.

2. Enhance Program Efficiency and Reach

The use of ICT tools can significantly increase the efficiency and reach of development programs. Digital development advisors are instrumental in identifying and implementing appropriate technologies that streamline processes, improve data collection, and expand the impact of these programs. The UNDP Digital Strategy highlights the role of digital technologies in enhancing program delivery, and ICT4D advisors as key change agents. They complement the UN’s wide-ranging global efforts to boost the digital capacity of vulnerable and marginalized groups including women and people with disabilities.

3. Facilitate Better Decision Making with Data

Data-driven decision-making is crucial for the success of development initiatives. Tech4Good advisors ensure the effective use of data analytics tools, enhancing the ability of organizations to make informed decisions. This is especially important in resource-limited settings, where data can guide the optimal allocation of resources. For example, USAID digital development advisors assist in harnessing the power of real-time data collection and analysis for decision-making and provide USAID with the insights needed to make informed decisions, monitor progress, and evaluate the impact of development programs.

4. Support Disaster Response and Resilience

In natural disasters, humanitarian technology solutions are a critical for response and recovery. Digital development advisors help disaster response by leveraging technology for effective communication, resource management, and coordination. UN OCHA insights on technology in humanitarian responses shows how ICT4D advisors help navigate artificial intelligence analysis of vast datasets, GenAI chatbots for immediate feedback loops, unmanned aerial vehicles for fast geospatial assessments, and digital financial services combined with biometric data for rapid and flexible assistance, for faster people-centred livelihoods response.

5. Promote Local Innovation and Technology Adoption

Digital development advisors play a key role in fostering local innovation and technology adoption. They work with local communities and stakeholders to develop and implement technology solutions that are culturally and contextually appropriate. USAID finds that digital development advisors are instrumental in building partnerships between USAID, host country governments, private sector entities, and civil society organizations. These collaborations are vital for leveraging resources, sharing knowledge, and scaling successful digital initiatives.

6. Ensure Sustainable Development Goals Alignment

ICT4D advisors help ensure that technology initiatives align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They guide organizations in leveraging ICT to achieve broader development objectives such as poverty reduction, health improvement, and education access. ICT4D advisors support the development and implementation of strategies, standards, and tools in ICT4D that are based in the SDGs to ensure that the organization’s ICT4D technology portfolio continues to meet evolving business needs and remains aligned with best practices.

7. Build Capacity and Strengthen Learning Initiatives

Tech4Good advisors lead capacity strengthening and learning initiatives, and conduct trainings, workshops, and coaching to enhance the skills of staff and partners in deploying and managing ICT4D solutions. They provide technical advice and support to regional and country program teams for the strategic planning and high-quality implementation of ICT4D solutions, standards, innovations, and best practices. This ensures that ICT4D solutions are effectively deployed and managed across different contexts.

8. Design Strategic ICT4D Deployments

ICT4D advisors offer technical advice and support for strategic planning, ensuring that digital technology solutions are aligned with the organization’s goals and effectively applied to development programs. Advisors contribute to embedding ICT4D in the technical design for proposals, supporting the preparation, design, and submission of project concepts and full-fledged proposals. They make sure that ICT4D is integrated into the organization’s future programs from the outset.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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