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Monday, June 1, 2009

Chickens and Eggs and ICTs

We've been thinking and discussing the best way to follow up on the Social Media for Social Change workshop that we had in December in Kenya. Ideas have been going back and forth about the best way to really find out what the Information and Communication needs are in the countries where we are working, and then how to support the different offices and staff to find the best and most appropriate Technology solutions.

We ended up with a chicken and egg situation in a way.... if ICT4D is not your top priority, and you don't spend your life trying to figure out what is happening with ICT4D, you may not know what all is out there. (Ha, even if you do spend your life doing it, you don't know what all is out there). So it can be hard to imagine tools and solutions if you've not seen them in action, used them yourself, or heard about how others are using them. At the same time, each local situation is different, so one size doesn't fit all, so in order to find a tool or a solution, the situation analysis must come from those who would use that 'solution.' So what do you do first -- learn about different tools and potential solutions so that the lightbulb goes off on ways to incorporate/adapt the existing tools to your needs, or discuss your 'needs' and design something that works -- sometimes re-inventing the wheel. We thought that the best way we could manage the situation was to try to do both at once.

What we want to do is to activate our knowledge and study more about the concrete information and communications needs at the community level as well as in Plan's program work that could be supported by ICTs. So we are hoping that we can produce a document which offers specific recommendations about utilizing ICTs in our work in the participating countries in Africa. And we then hope that we can identify areas to be developed further including successful initiatives currently being implemented by Plan itself and also those areas where we can build on existing synergy with governmental strategies. We are also hoping to better understand the capacity building needs among Plan and its partners.

It should be interesting research/training and hopefully will take us one step further towards incorporating appropriate technology to improve our communications and management of information so that we can have greater impact in our existing programs or even develop new programs that we didn't think were possible before....

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