Technology for Development
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.
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.
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.