Between October 22 and October 25 the Eastern and Southern African Regional Office facilitated a T4D capacity building workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. Participants came from 19 countries in the region as well as the Western and Central African Region and ICT Headquarters, representing a mix of both programme and ICT specialists. Over four days we learned about the essentials of the T4D toolbox, challenges that arise when integrating technology into programmes, and moreover, how we can advance T4D across the region, and ultimately, better achieve programme aims and meet beneficiaries’ need.
Common themes that emerged throughout the workshop and were discussed frequently: the need for cross-section and cross-country collaboration, thinking about scale from the beginning, sound project management, leadership, local and government ownership of initiatives, evidence-based approach, and technology choice.
Below you can find a brief overview of what was discussed each day and some key take away points.
Day 1: Setting Context and Sharing Experiences
The first day of the workshop was used to set the scene about T4D and Innovation initiatives throughout the region. We spent a lot of the day exploring the challenges surrounding T4D through case studies on specific projects that “failed.” Through a variety of sessions and activities we began to better understand why projects fail, and moreover, what lessons we can take away from the mistakes to help develop successful initiatives in the future.
Day 2: Opportunities for Integrating T4D in Programmes
After sketching the T4D landscape through learning about the challenges that arise when trying to integrate T4D into programme delivery, we spent the day talking about the bigger picture of how T4D can complement and not hinder programme delivery. The day’s sessions focused on some of the basic nuts and bolts of T4D in programmes by looking at the processes behind T4D. Take away from the day? Progamme comes first. Only after the programme section knows their needs, can one think about integrating the tech.
Day 3: Working with External Partners and Vendors
During the third day we got down to the nitty gritty and really began looking at the basic roles and techniques used in business analysis and software development. We learned that the most successful projects have well-defined programme objectives and a clear project management plan. There are a host of external partners and vendors in the T4D spaces, and choosing tools and technology must be based on context. Learning about the various internal and external tools and technologies is crucial when designing a project, and can be the difference between a project that is successful and one from which we can learn lessons.
Day 4: Alternative Solutions
On the last day we looked beyond the traditional T4D initiatives and widened our horizons about T4D potential. The Intro to Human Centred Design was an excellent closing session for us to reflect back on what T4D can help programme sections accomplish. Lesson learned: programmes should be designed around the end-users. We closed the workshop with looking at the Regional Office next steps and received feedback on how we can best support T4D within country offices.
We hope everyone had a great week and a huge thank you to our facilitators and participants!
Over the last few months the Eastern and Southern Regional Office has recognized the growing trend of Technology for Development (T4D) and Innovation projects across the region. Since T4D and Innovation are cross-cutting and cross-sectorial, which is challenging the traditional programme landscape within UNICEF, the Regional Office is striving to tackle this emerging challenge. Specifically, the Regional Office has identified three areas to support T4D:
- To assist the country offices with the identification, assessment, and integration of ICT into UNICEF programming
- To strengthen internal capacity to lead and support T4D related projects
- To maximize potential for T4D scale-up and roll out and increase portability from one country to another
To address the rising need in the region for T4D support and advancement we are raising awareness, formalizing processes, and creating best practices. We recently completed a survey in the region and collected information on over 60 T4D/Innovation initiatives in 18 countries across Eastern and Southern Africa. We have found that programme sections are using mobile phones (both smart and basic) to collect data, send reminders to pregnant mothers for prenatal care, deliver results of Early Infant Diagnosis HIV testing, and include youths in opinion polls.
Over the next couple of months this blog will be a repository for information. The idea is to include links to informative videos and sites and report what is happening throughout the region.
To begin here is a link to a great video that sets the scene about the opportunities and challenges within the T4D space: