First pointed out to us on the excellent ICTworks blog, we’ve learned that USAID has compiled a manual for using mobile phones into international development projects. Put together for the agency by FHI360 and OpenRevolution, this 149-page handbook should serve as an excellent resource for anyone who wants to better understand how to use cell phones work to fight poverty and the problems that come with it. From the forward:
This handbook is intended as a practical and actionable guide to help USAID staff consider the challenges that can impede the realization of a more sustainable and equitable future powered by mobile technology and other digital solutions, and to think critically about when and how to deploy mobile solutions. Across the world, I have observed countless examples of exciting mobile programs that have failed to scale beyond donor funding. The execution of mobile solutions can often be more challenging than anticipated. Many remain underpowered because the policy/regulatory environment hampers the expansion of affordable Internet or mobile services, business models are not aligned to meet the commercial interests of the private sector at a price point that works for low-income communities, and, too often, mobile services are not designed with the end-user in mind. Finally, the often siloed nature of our development programs mean that mHealth, mAgriculture, mFinance and other “m-“ efforts are not built to support each other and, in some cases, are working at cross-purposes.
This is where the expertise of USAID staff can make an important difference. It is not enough to expect our implementing partners to solve these problems. All of us must work together in applying our insights, talents, and energy in helping to identify and capitalize on opportunities for science and technology to build a better future. You have a critical role to play in engaging directly with policy makers and regulators to address the barriers that can limit the potential of technology to deliver impact. You are best positioned to ensure our technology programs are mutually reinforcing across portfolios. And it is your job to ensure good design principles are built-in from the beginning.
Want a copy of your own? Fill out this quick form with your name, email, affiliation and why you’re interested, and you’ll get the link to download “Integrating Mobiles into Development Projects” immediately.