The annual ICT4D Conferences have proven to be an invaluable opportunity for NGOs, private sector organizations, universities, governmental agencies and foundations to share their experience in using ICT to increase the impact of development programs and to learn from each other.  In 2016, 715 individuals from 76 countries and 301 private sector and public sector and civil society explored the ways to harness the full power of digital solutions to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  Our thanks to Accenture, Catholic Relief Services, Esri, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, iMerit Technology Services, Inmarsat, IS Solutions, Making All Voices Count, Mercy Corps, Microsoft, NetHope, Oxfam, Pandexio, Qualcom Wireless Reach, RTI International, SimbaNet and World Vision for making that possible.

Tuesday, May 17 • 16:45 - 17:30
The Role of Digital Development in Feed the Future FILLING

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Most applications of digital tools in a particular development program or activity are done in a one-off fashion: a digital financial service here, some geospatial work there, real time data capture in some geographies, or perhaps an effort to extend connectivity in some other locales. The focus is often on the product, service or application to be rolled out, and less on what is required in order to ensure the product is successful in supporting the development initiative. Rarely is the suite of digital technologies employed to allow this to happen, including infrastructural or systems-level investments that underpin broad uptake of digital services.

The emerging practice of "Digital Development" (formerly "ICT for Development") now recognizes the need for a "whole of digital approach" that includes identifying and addressing issues that almost every developing country faces. These include digital literacy, lack of connectivity (especially in rural areas) and lack of mobile phone ownership, particularly for women, as well as a dearth of locally relevant content delivered through mobile and Internet-enabled devices. This whole of digital approach is critical both for driving national economic growth but also for meeting overarching objectives for any development sector that incorporates digital tools. This is particularly true for agricultural productivity.

USAID has been employing a variety of digital tools for several years, as have its implementing partners, albeit in often an ad hoc manner. Now, the U.S. Global Development Lab and the Bureau of Food Security have recently joined forces to bring this Digital Development approach to Feed the Future. Through a new three-year collaboration, the two bureaus are working with Feed the Future teams at the country level to bring a variety of tools to bear. Activity areas include: digital financial services, mobile-based agricultural extension delivery, real-time data collection and geospatial visualization, affordable connectivity, digital literacy, enabling environment-strengthening at policy and regulatory levels, in-community technical assistance, market gap research, new generation public-private partnerships, and innovative applications of frontier technologies such as drones and low-cost remote sensors.

The nexus of many of these will be presented to drive home a critical point: When Feed the Future was first launched in 2010, the promise of mobile and digital technologies had not yet been delivered. Fast-forward five years and it is starting to emerge; strong market forces are paving the way for the most underserved populations to maximize such tools to meet their livelihood wants and needs. Yet much more must be done, deliberately, to ensure the growing digital economy is fully inclusive.

This presentation will draw upon various data points and points of intersection that demonstrate why a holistic approach to digital development is one fundamental way to ensure digital technologies reach their true potential in agricultural productivity. It will make the case of what must be done to delivery on this vision. And it will showcase what USAID and its partners are doing to strengthen such efforts.

avatar for Christopher Burns

Christopher Burns

Chief Digital Development Officer (CDDO) and Director for the Technology Division within the Innovation, Technology, and Research (ITR) Hub, USAID
Christopher Burns is the Chief Digital Development Officer (CDDO) for USAID and the Director for the Technology Division within the Innovation, Technology, and Research (ITR) Hub.In the CDDO role, he coordinates and tracks programmatic Digital Development investments across the Agency... Read More →

Tuesday May 17, 2016 16:45 - 17:30 EAT
Giraffe 201