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New USAID Handbook: How to Integrate Mobile Solutions into Development Projects

By Josh Woodard on August 18, 2014

The rapid explosion of mobile phone access globally, which has extended to even some of the most remote communities, has set off a rush of interest in trying to capitalize on the potential benefits of this technology for improving development outcomes.

As with anything that generates this level of buzz, some people have rushed to using mobiles for development (M4D) before they have fully understood all of the intricacies upon which their successful deployment is dependent. When those M4D initiatives fail or sputter, they add to the ICT4D graveyard, which is far from empty. M4D failures often reinforce technology aversions of skeptics and technophobes.

FHI 360 and OpenRevolution, with funding and support from USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia through the mSTAR project, have launched the “Integrating Mobiles into Development Projects” handbook to address the over-excited, under-planned side of M4D deployment.

The handbook is divided into two sections. The first section is meant to be an in-depth guide of everything you might need to know about mobiles – great for skeptics and dreamers, alike. The second section provides practical tips and information related to integrating mobiles into a project in practice, including our six-step approach to project design.

  1. Identify potential roles for mobiles to reinforce project goals
  2. Determine requirements for using mobiles
  3. Collect data to understand the landscape
  4. Decide if use of mobiles in a project is feasible and appropriate
  5. Validate assumptions and preliminary findings
  6. Integrate conclusions into Concept Paper

Although the primary audience of the “Integrating Mobiles into Development Projects” handbook is USAID staff, much of the content is relevant to implementing partners interested in integrating mobiles into development projects more effectively. We invite you to check it out, use it, and let us know what works for you and what doesn’t.

Josh Woodard is a Technical Manager of the Mobile Solutions Technical Assistance and Research (mSTAR) project at FHI 360, and was an author and technical editor of the handbook.

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Written by
Josh Woodard is the co-founder of Civi, a civictech platform connecting people across the aisle, as well as a senior digital advisor at USAID. You can find more of his writings on his personal site and occasionally via his LinkedIn feed
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