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How to Guide: USAID Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment Toolkit

By Wayan Vota on January 19, 2022

usaid deca toolkit

The rapid development and adoption of digital technology are transforming how people worldwide access information, goods, and services. Digital development is quickly becoming a necessary part of international development. Digital investments can have a multiplier effect on USAID programs. They can also expose USAID programs and participants to significant risks.

USAID Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment

The Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA) is the flagship initiative of the USAID Digital Strategy. The DECA assesses the country using the Digital Ecosystem Framework and a Mission’s Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS). It identifies opportunities and risks in a country’s digital ecosystem to help the development, design, and implementation of USAID’s strategies, projects, and activities.

The DECA informs USAID Missions and other key decision-makers about how to better understand, work with, and support a country’s digital ecosystem. It introduces digital-centric topics like digital connectivity, internet freedom, and digital trade while also highlighting technology considerations for more traditional USAID sectors like gender, workforce development, literacy, and governance.

The DECA also introduces Missions to actors in the ecosystem and raises awareness of other stakeholders’ existing efforts. This creates opportunities for new partnerships and collaborations, which can amplify USAID’s work.

USAID Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment Toolkit

The USAID Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment Toolkit is a step-by-step guide designed to help USAID Missions conduct high-quality research that will directly inform Mission strategic and programmatic decisions for digital development interventions.

This Toolkit is designed to provide Mission staff with the tools and information needed to manage the entire DECA process, from hiring a research team to developing report recommendations. The Toolkit includes an overview of the assessment methodology, technical guidance, easy-to-follow templates and checklists, and project management best practices.

The DECA is about a five- to six-month long research process led by a Mission with three phases: desk research and planning; interviews; and analysis and report writing. The integration of Mission priorities and feedback is key throughout all DECA phases.

Partners, donors, and the broader development community can use the DECA Toolkit to better understand how USAID defines and assesses the digital ecosystem, to complement other country or sectoral assessments, and to identify new areas of collaboration and partnership with USAID.

This Toolkit was developed based on lessons learned during four pilot DECAs conducted in partnership with USAID Missions in Colombia, Kenya, Serbia, and Nepal between winter 2019 and fall 2020. In preparation for introducing and promulgating the DECA across the Agency, the USAID Digital Strategy team carried out in-person and virtual assessments and tested and refined research processes and tools. The resulting best practices are detailed in this Toolkit.

A lightly edited synopsis of the USAID Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment Toolkit 

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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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One Comment to “How to Guide: USAID Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment Toolkit”

  1. Bett Jackson says:

    I will like to know more about this project