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ICT in Programme

ICT in programme

From monitoring water points to delivering electronic vouchers, agronomic or community health information through mobile phones and digitalising paper surveys or registration processes, Oxfam have been exploring how Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) can offer opportunities to amplify and improve the effectiveness of our work. This can be in terms of the way we improve systems for our field staff and the way we engage communities directly using tools readily available to them. This sort of work is known as ICT for development (ICT4D) or Technology for Development (Tech4Dev).

A number of initiatives have proven how the introduction of ICTs has a demonstrable effect on saving time and money while enabling Oxfam to be more accountable and have a wider reach, even in some of the most fragile contexts. Meanwhile, we acknowledge that ICTs can only be considered as an enabler and solutions will only work when they are embedded into programme to suit contextual needs.

At Oxfam we are keen to ensure ICTs are considered to be a means to an end. We start with the problem, not with the tool, recognise the limitations and ensure the methodology considers ethical applications which integrate ICTs in an appropriate way. Effective methodology and programme design are critical for success.

Approach

We are committed to responsible and ethical approaches to data collection, storage, analysis and disposal to ensure we protect the security and privacy of participants. By adopting less extractive and more empowering methods, we ensure that data is fairly represented and used, often involving participants in the process.

Principles for success

  • ICTs are not an end in themselves; but need to be integrated into existing programmes 
  • ICTs can contribute to enhancing the overall impact of a programme by increasing outreach, reducing running costs, increasing efficiencies, promoting accountability of stakeholders and by improving the monitoring and evaluation activities
  • Build on existing ICT infrastructure and services where possible
  • Keep the technology simple
  • Plan for sustainability and scalability 
  • Listen to users to understand needs, habits and risk factors, and to maximise control and ownership over services
  • Measuring impact is important to ensure that services effectively meet the needs of the affected population
  • Conduct a market segmentation before designing the service
  • Design services that deliver timely, actionable and relevant services
  • Design must consider the cultural, financial and educational barriers that might prevent women or other marginalised groups from accessing these technologies and services

Themes

ICTs refer to any product that will store, retrieve, manipulate, transmit or receive information, such as personal computers, television, radio, email and mobile phones. Our approach is deeply embedded in the context of programming and we see certain opportunities for the applications of ICTs within core thematic areas. 

Humanitarian

Oxfam is exploring applications of ICTs across all stages in the humanitarian project cycle, from registering communities digitally to conducting assessments and monitoring activities using mobile devices. In fragile contexts, where access can be difficult, we have been exploring applications of ICTs to support remote public health promotion and management of distributions.  Oxfam are utilising mobile money, e-vouchers and e-cash tools to transfer cash and we are utilising the widespread use of mobile phones to offering new mechanisms for feedback and complaints from communities with whom we work. 

Monitoring and Evaluation

Not only have we been exploring ways to use ICTs for monitoring and evaluation processes by digitalising surveys and using participatory multimedia, we are also keen to increase our learning on the contribution which ICTs offer in programme contexts. By effectively planning, monitoring and evaluating we can learn from our work to refine programmes for increased impact, sustainability and accountability. 

Citizen agency and influencing

The increasingly widespread adoption of ICTs are opening new opportunities for citizens to create, lead and take part in civic activism and civic spaces. More than ever, people all over the world are exploring ways to use ICT-enabled processes to hold governments to account or to demand the right to transparency in electoral processes, budget decision and service delivery. Access to information and evidence based reports are essential for citizen action and influencing processes, and ICTs can not only contribute to improve transparency, but can also to create feedback loops that can improve accountability.

Livelihoods

Oxfam has adopted ICTs for strengthening its livelihoods markets-based programmes, particularly in agriculture. ICTs have the potential to help rural farmers access information that can improve their livelihood and resilience by providing timely information on finding the best prices for inputs and products, locating transportation, accommodating for weather forecasts and mobile-facilitated payment, credit or insurance. See our page on Grow.Sell.Thrive.

This map shows some of Oxfam's projects (both past and present) with links to further information. Use the menu button on the top left to find lists of projects and to add or remove projects by the technology used.

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