Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) is the practice of utilizing technology to assist those poor and marginalized people in developing communities.
CRS is a leader in the new era of extracting insights from information for program innovation, learning and adaptive management. CRS applies technology at scale to increase our reach and effectiveness with evidence that we are improving the lives of people we serve.
ICT4D 2.0 in Practice
Each year, CRS challenges its staff to identify opportunities to improve program efficacy, and awards funding to the most promising initiatives through small innovation grants.
In 2015, a program to fight malnutrition and reduce childhood stunting in Madagascar struggled to provide community members with food rations consistently. Our hypothesis was that the food distribution sites were too difficult to reach. Having already used mobile devices to register household locations, the team used spatial analysis to develop a model of walk times from villages to potential distribution sites based on topography.
Using these models, new sites were selected that saw consistent attendance increase by 27%, and walk times cut in half. Community members now have more reliable access to food to reduce childhood stunting. Below is a high-level overview of our typical process:
Data for evidence-based decision making
As the role of technology continues to expand around the globe, we have greater opportunities to capture data from the field and shape it into timely, accurate and multi-dimensional information. This includes the use of tools, such as for analytics and data visualization, that simplify complex data into practical information to support planning, coordination and decision making. Our advancement in evidence-based decision making will be enabled by deep skills in responsible data management, data science, and a culture of data use.
Implementation at Scale
At CRS, we use ICT4D for data collection more broadly and in projects serving more people than many other aid and development agencies. We partner with technology vendors to adapt services to meet our needs so that we can continue working at scale in the most challenging operating environments. This includes updating our core data collection and reporting tools to focus on scalability and usability through templates and turnkey solutions, which will make data and technology more accessible for CRS and partner staff.
Enabling Partners and Programs
By working with technology providers to curate a portfolio of tools tailored to sector-specific needs we can increase the reach and value of services in our core program areas of emergency response & recovery, agricultural livelihoods and health. We will enable our partners to understand the lifecycle of digital tools and define sustainability plans for use after a project ends.
ICT4D in the Media
Geospatial analysis helped CRS optimize food distribution in Madagascar, offering greater impact for the USAID-funded Fararano project.
Mobile apps, part of the ReMIND program, are changing the lives of children and mothers in India.
CRS staffer Kathryn Clifton describes the needs, challenges, and impact of spatial analysis.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), NetHope and World Vision were among hundreds of organisations at the international Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) Conference in India (May 15-18) calling for better protection of data amid the WannaCry ransomware attack.
CRS staffer Michael Stulman describes the electronic vouchers refugees are using to buy food and other supplies.
CRS staffer Kathryn Clifton writes about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Benin.