Communication for Development (C4D)

ICTs and C4D

© UNICEF/Lebanon/Ntabadde
A community worker uses a handheld tablet to enter information about a Syrian refugee family, in the Bekaa Valley. The information is recorded via UniSupply, an application to improve coordination and reporting.

New information and communication technologies (ICTs) have advanced in unprecedented ways over the past decade. They are increasingly driving and supporting community level changes as well as local, national and global economies and international development efforts. ICTs can support Communication for Development (C4D)'s emphasis on horizontal communication models that aim to facilitate participation, inclusion and empowerment.

ICTs are transforming lives by reducing vulnerabilities, such as costly and sometimes dangerous travel, while increasing access to health care, education and information. For example, countries such as Uganda, Senegal and Brazil have increased child birth registration  by empowering community workers with mobile technologies. ICTs are also being employed to increase the reach of oral rehydration salts therapy (ORS), a low-tech, effective solution for and protection against diarrhoea. 

Given the growth in ICT access and use, it is important for agencies to understand and consider how these tools, if used appropriately and with proper planning, monitoring and evaluation, can enhance engagement, increase impact, improve information management, lower costs and expand reach.

Social, cultural, economic and political traditions and systems that prevent girls all over the world from fully achieving their rights present a formidable challenge to development organizations. C4D programming is well placed to confront the roots of this discrimination by engaging individuals, communities and decision makers in a process of social transformation. ICTs offer C4D programming new opportunities to break down the norms and values that persistently deprive girls of their basic rights, allowing for the promotion of a plurality of voices at various levels.

Quick action to contain cholera in Burundi
With the sudden appearance of nearly 170 cholera cases, it became essential to quickly identify and track cases in real time. RapidPro technology on simple mobile phones has allowed health workers to immediately notify the central level of new cases, and to report on the evolution of each hospitalized case. But responding effectively to cholera does not just mean treating confirmed cases – it also means preventing new ones. Communications tools for use in health centres and in communities are critical to limiting contamination and rapidly containing the illness.

U-Report Reaches 1 Million Registered Users WorldwideTweet Share
1 million people from 15 countries across the world joined hands to become agents of social change in their communities. These 1 million people stepped forward to no longer be passive recipients of social services but become active participants in the national and global development process. 

Prishtina bus transportation
Prishtina Buses” is a youth-led project, which aims to empower young people to identify challenges in their communities and develop and lead solutions.  The project seeks to improve and develop access to public transportation by addressing the absence of route and timetable information.

Digital mapping technology to reduce disaster risks
Young digital mappers use mobile phone to photograph problems;s the photos are automatically tagged with global positioning system (GPS) coordinates, enabling researchers and officials to pinpoint the problem areas. The adolescents then use cameras attached to kites to gather aerial images, helping to identify the presence or absence of drainage systems, the availability of sanitation facilities, etc. 

U-Report: Revolutionary Technology for Development (T4D) from UNICEF Uganda
U-report is revolutionizing social mobilization, monitoring and response efforts to address human rights issues throughout the country. In doing so, it is also equipping legions of mobile phone users with the tools to establish and enforce new standards of transparency and accountability in development programming and the delivery of services.

What are ICTs?

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can include the whole range of technologies used for communication.  They include the Internet, the PC and the mobile phone which enable applications like the World Wide Web, email, blogs, electronic archives, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Orkut and other social networking websites where multi-media content can be accessed and shared. 

Some definitions of ICT include ‘old’ or ‘traditional’ electronic media, such as radio and television, because digitization provides opportunities for various media to work together as a suite of media channels to achieve a particular information and communication objective. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and digital Geographical Information Systems (GIS), or digital mapping can be included in the list of ICT tools as well.

Along with this great potential comes barriers that can prevent the most marginalized groups from accessing ICTs, including age, gender, disability, literacy, capacity, cost and connectivity.

What is ICT4D?

Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) refers to the application of information and communication technologies, including the Internet and mobile phone, video and audio, to development goals and poverty reduction. The field is relatively new, since the late 1990s when infrastructure began to expand telecommunications into poor and remote areas and development organizations invested in ‘telecentres’ to provide ICT-enabled services to poor communities. In the last few years, with the expansion of mobile networks, the field has expanded and evolved rapidly.



ICT briefing papers

Mobiles for Development Report - Full - Summary

Mobile Technologies for Child Protection

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