Practical Answers | Blogs

  • Complexity doesn’t have to be confusing


    February 3rd, 2016

    credit: from the Mudd Partnership http://themuddpartnership.com/2013/07/05/managing-complexity-for-super-performance/I was recently inspired by a talk by Danny Budzak at the International Data and Information Management Conference (IDIMC) in Loughborough. Danny works for the London Legacy Development Organisation and is responsible for their knowledge management. Many of us were recently inspired by Chris Collison’s case study on IOC knowledge management so I was interested to hear Danny’s take on the reality.

    But in fact, the main thing that stuck in my head was Danny’s description of how office life has changed over recent decades. It’s not so very long ago that important documents were typed and filed by professionals – people trained in filing, records management, knowledge management. The fact that a typist may be employed to type a report, and that the opportunity for editing was limited to the use of Tippex, inherently built in quality assurance processes that have long since disappeared.

    Nowadays we are all office managers and knowledge managers. We are responsible for our own digital filing and usually for creating our own filing structures. This is all well and good, when you are creating and capturing knowledge that only you will use. But if you are capturing knowledge that has a wider value – say expertise on how to deliver a development project, then you need to design a system which will allow others to find and retrieve that knowledge easily.

    But how many of us have had any training in the design of such systems. The use of metadata or version control? How many of us have actually even had proper training in the use of excel or word?

    Danny summed up his talk with a great phrase that I will return to. Complexity doesn’t have to be confusing. It’s so easy when faced by burgeoning big data and masses of junk mail to shut ourselves off from the potential sources of knowledge and wisdom. It is the job of the knowledge manager (and we are all knowledge managers) to make sense out of this chaos and confusion and bring order to the complexity.

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  • Our farmers are not millionaires, do you know why?


    October 14th, 2015

    We do not need to smoke, but tobacco producers are millionaires; we do not need to drink wine/carbonated drinks, but those businesses are also making millions. We need rice, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs – these are our daily necessities, but the producers of these commodities… I am sorry I cannot say that they are millionaires. Most of them are poor and are still living below poverty line.

    Krishi Call Centre advertisement stricker
    Practical Action has always answered queries in the development sector. Today, around 30 members of the staff from 10 different countries in Practical Answers are now appointed to answer questions.

    Practical Answers Bangladesh team has built a Krishi (agriculture) Call Centre with the promise of providing agriculture related information and services in partnership with the Department of Agriculture & Extension under the Ministry of Agriculture.

    The journey of Krishi Call Centre started in 2011-12 with the aim to support rural farmers who are living in remote areas of the country. During the test period, we received around 20,000 calls from 18,000 clients through an eleven digit number for farmers to connect the centre and farmers are charged 0.65 BDT/minute. ‍Subsequently, in 2014, the government made the centre toll free (The connection number is 16123 from Bangladesh only) just for 6 months. Thanks to our Ministry of Local Government for that initiative. After that time Government has declared the lowest rate (0.25 BDT/min excluding vat and surcharge) for the farmers. This is indeed a very good initiative.

    However, with the help of donors, the centre may not continue its work in the long run. The Government should take it to a revenue model; otherwise it will be very difficult to sustain.

    Coming back to what I said at the start, if a farmer gets support from a remote place for his agricultural production, it will be valuable for our economy as well as Gross Domestic Product – GDP. As Bangladesh still relies on agricultural based economy, the government should take the necessary steps to make the Krishi Call Centre sustainable and a successful project.

    Krishi Call Centre

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  • Agriculture extension in rural Kassala


    October 1st, 2015

    Rural and agricultural development is integral to any strategy to alleviate poverty and promote broad-based growth. The figures confirm that poverty in Sudan is deeply entrenched and is largely rural, especially considering that traditional subsistence agriculture in rural areas has gradually been replaced by market-based or commercial agriculture. This is due to many factors, including rapid economic growth, introduction of new technologies, market expansion, market liberalization, increased demand for food, decreasing farming population as a result of urbanization and liberalized economic policies.

    Training forWorking in the field of Communication and Development, I have observed that human resource development is essential for food security and market integration. Achieving sustainable agricultural development is less based on material inputs (e.g. seeds, fertilizers, etc.) than on the people involved in their use. Agricultural extension makes a real contribution and impact in improving the welfare of farmers and other people living in rural areas, thus, I have come to love my focus on Practical Answers interventions for technology justice; such as assisting knowledge and information management and sharing information about agricultural components, as well as using appropriate delivery approaches, channels and tools.

    Delivering agricultural extension messages

    Agricultural extension is central to sustaining the livelihood of rural communities. Local practitioners, along with paravets, have a fundamental presence in local communities, as they are becoming increasingly valuable and responsible for communicating and providing services and knowledge to their communities.

    Practical Action collaborated with the the Technology and Extension Department of the Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture, as well as Civil society organisations like the Al-Gandoul Network for Rural Development, who initiated these interventions in Kassala using multi-communication tools to disseminate and deliver the extensions messages. The objective of the extension messages is to raise awareness in the rural community and adopting good practices in order to contribute to an increase in their production, income, and livestock through carefully selecting potential local Village Extension Agents (VEAs) and local paravets – one woman and one man from each communities (20 communities targeted) – with specific criteria, agreed upon by village community members. Under the supervision of a qualified agriculture extension practitioner, they were trained in identify community needs, developing key extension messages and testing the massages, communication skills, and setting an action plan to be implemented in their communities.

    Practical Action broadcast extension messages through various outlets to ensure circulation and coverage. However, the effectiveness of face-to-face and community radio selected as a source of information;  the radio became a main media outlet for communicating extension messages articulated using local languages and dialects and the VEAs collected the enquiries and respond to the direct audiences.

    Wasil Phone for reportingThe remarkable indicators of success were:

    • Evident income increase in some families,
    • The dedication shown in protecting and nurturing livestock
    • The increase in the community’s commitment toward their own development.

    I believe that receiving useful and correct information have been a key for success, and radio programs, especially, were a powerful tool for extension because of its wide coverage and contextual relevance.

    It is important to note that extension services are organized and delivered in a variety of forms, with the ultimate aim of increasing farmers’ productivity and income. The question then becomes: how can farmers gain access to knowledge, information on improving practices along the value chain to adopt, increase and yield income?

    I believe improving agricultural extension delivery in the future of extension messages should provide information along the whole value chain, including marketing extension, farmer empowerment, facilitating formation of self-motivated farmer’s groups, private extension services and environmental extension for sustainability.

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  • Knowledge systems, chains and grids


    September 28th, 2015

    Last week I was pleased to attend the launch of the Climate Knowledge Brokers (CKB) manifesto at DFID. It’s a really handy guide to the role of knowledge brokers, how they should go about their tasks and why they are so important. Whilst the launch of the manifesto has conveniently arrived ahead of COP21 (the 2015 Paris Climate Conference), I think the models and lessons from this document have wider importance for knowledge brokers across all sectors.

    In particular, the necessity to understand the needs of the audience is one of the main items highlighted by the CKB. This seems a straightforward observation, but it’s easily forgotten because the links between knowledge ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ are rarely as simple as they appear on paper. I found this recognition particularly relevant to our work: the ‘chain’ between the creators of knowledge and those that will find it useful is complex. It’s also full of gaps, with actors often possessing neither the will nor the way to pass knowledge on.

    courtesy of Jerry Manas

    courtesy of Jerry Manas

    For knowledge brokers like Practical Answers, we must act effectively in both directions: communicating the needs of our consumers to our suppliers whilst formatting, contextualising and organising information to make knowledge accessible and appropriate for our users. A great point raised during the meeting, and an approach that we strive for in Practical Answers, was that constantly asking questions is the key to success in knowledge brokering!

    The CKB have also previously talked about a ‘Climate Grid’: a network of brokers, working in a co-ordinated way (digitally and offline) to make sure marginalised communities get access to the knowledge they need.  But I wonder if it’s better to see the whole process as a knowledge system, albeit a complex and ever-changing one. It was clear at the meeting, for example, that people who are running large programmes for DFID are both knowledge creators and knowledge users. A chain, focussed on brokers, tends to underestimate the other influencing factors in the whole knowledge system. When it comes to climate change, everyone is exposed to messages from a whole host of actors beyond formal knowledge brokers, including the media, the private sector, scientific organisations, governments and their community: not to mention special interest groups and lobbyists. In such a complex system, it’s vital to understand these gaps, dynamics and needs to provide knowledge that those on the front line of a changing climate can use.

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  • Can Practical Answers help alleviate the global burden of illiteracy?     


    September 22nd, 2015

    September 8 was ‘World Literacy Day’.  At this moment there are 775 million people in the world who are illiterate and two- thirds of these are women. 98% of literate people live in developed countries while for the least developed countries literacy rates average around 65%.  Around 40% of adults (15 years and above) in Bangladesh are non literate, roughly 64 million of the employment market.

    The burden of illiteracy

    Bangladesh’s position is in the list of lower middle income countries and per capita income of Bangladeshi people rose from $1190 to 1314$ from last year.  Studies revealed that lower literacy is a cause of multiple under development.  “Illiteracy increases higher rate of unemployment, crime, long term illness and prejudice against women” (World Literacy Foundation).

    A study on child labour shows that earlier generations who had some literacy and numeracy were successful in finding better employment and came out of extreme poverty even in the poverty stricken areas of Bangladesh. This study also shows that among the children who could not continue their schooling due to their parent’s poverty, but had three or four years schooling, were able to find skilled employment in trades such as auto mechanics, driving, welding, tailoring, or carpentry, which have a better daily wage than those who could not read and write. Earlier generations (who were also once child labourers) who did not have literacy and numeracy could not find better employment and continued to work in physical labour intensive employment, with high health risks and lower duration of productivity and lower wages.

    How we can escape from these dire consequences? What are the alternative solutions for those marginalized people? We are paying the cost of illiteracy  in many ways in our daily life . Road traffic injuries cost 1-2% of national GDP each year in Bangladesh while most of the drivers and pedestrians most vulnerable to accidents are poor and illiterate.

    According to World Literacy Foundation research, Bangladesh loses 0.5% of its total GDP to illiteracy. Bangladesh observed World Literacy Day as a high priority and the country’s Prime Minister  attended a national event organized by the Ministry of Education. Therefore it can be said that literacy and education are high priority issues of the state and the policy makers. The country aims to attain 100% literacy rate by the year 2014. The relevant ministry has chalked out an initiative to provide fundamental literacy among 4.5 million non literate people throughout the country.  However what would be the fortune of the 60 million others in Bangladesh?

    Krishi call centre

    Krishi call centrePractical Answers Bangladesh has been implementing decentralized and diversified knowledge services for the marginalised such as the illiterate.  We have the Krishi Call Centre, a mobile phone based technology and knowledge service, where both the literate and non literate can get answers to their livelihood related problems. We introduced voice messages for those who cannot read and write, so they can learn and access information that they require in their daily lives. Besides we have numerous audio and visual knowledge contents and these are followed Open Data Sources Policy so people who are hearing impaired they can also have also learning access.

    A study relating to youth and marginalized employment in Bangladesh shows that there are some departments who offer different training and skills programs but adolescents who dropped out of school could not access those low cost programs as enrolment on those programs requires at least eight years education. Data shows that in earlier generations many people learnt their skills through traditional systems such as carpentry, goldsmithing and weaving. 

    To attain sustainability in our development we should introduce alternative learning systems where non-literate people and those with visual and aural disabilities can also have equal opportunity. By employing different digital means we can continue learning access to these non literate as lifelong continuous education.

    Vocational and technical skills and livelihood related training institutions can introduce voice content, audio content, pictorial materials and apprenticeships with special focus on the needs and limitations of the non-literate and if there is required to change any such policy which is caused to limit the learning scopes of our unfortunate non literates where they are victims of different structural injustice needs to take urgent action.

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  • Answering practical problems has made lives better


    August 11th, 2015

    The best aid to give is intellectual aid, a gift of useful knowledge. A gift of knowledge is infinitely preferable to a gift of material things.  E. F. Schumacher

    I have recently joined Practical Action as Communications Officer at Odisha, India Office and this was my first field visit to find out about the work. When I heard about the infamous district of Rampur, during my first meeting with Read India I was curious to know more about the place which remains in the news for many reasons. Starting from political melodrama to poverty, this district has always been in lime light. The recent development of Rampur Town, which was selected from the 13 other cities of Uttar Pradesh for the Smart City project, increased my curiosity to know more about what changes Practical Answers has brought in last year since it has been working extensively with local villagers in the district in partnership with Read India, the implementing agency for Practical Answers in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan though it was a pilot project.

    We crossed wide spread green fields on both the sides which was an evidence of agricultural improvement in this part of the country after we started off from Delhi. Our companion from the Read India, Shivam told us that people are keener on agriculture oriented in Rampur and nearby areas. He also mentioned that these places are way too fertile and 2-3 crops are possible in one year in many places. It took around four and half hours from CR Park, Delhi to Rampur covering a distance of 206 km. While thinking about agricultural innovations and the importance of farming as well as the current scenario of the adverse condition of farmers, it reminded me the famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi “Of course the farmer is the father of the world. But it is his greatness that he is not aware of the fact.”

    After we reached Rampur we first went to the village of Aliganj-Benejir and our field coordinator Anoop Singh was our escort. The roads were wide and clean. It seemed as if it’s a proper planned town and we were heading towards our first destination. It was just 7 Km from the district headquarters on the main road which was well built with cement and concrete we reached the village where villagers were waiting anxiously. We held the meeting on a verandah. By the time we started the discussion there were 15 odd young farmers plus a few elderly people who seemed to have just come back from the field. It was too hot and sweaty, however I was feeling sorry for them as the meeting timing was not very convenient.

    Meeting with Farmers at Aligunj-Benejir, Rampur, UP, India

    We were welcomed with water and later hot samosas were served to everyone and I had two of them. My colleague Arun started discussing some issues with them and I was listening silently as I had very little idea about the project. But what I learned from the discussion made me quite positive and also started joining in. The best part of the village was, many young and mid aged people are keen on farming and they were  ell informed about a lot of technological advancements and quite outspoken during discussion.

    To my surprise, when they shared, I got to know that before Practical Answers started working through Read India, villagers were short of information on good practice. Be it farming or fertilizers or use of pesticides or taking care of livestock it was the local shopkeeper and his little knowledge which they used to rely on. He used to suggest medicine and other things which were  expensive and not very effective, shared Sonu Tomar, 28 year old farmer who has been a beneficiary of Kisan Gyan Seva (Practical Answer’s knowledge service) through mobile vani ( A service where farmers get their queries answered with a phone call). He also shared their helplessness before this knowledge sharing service. Earlier they were  dependent on the so called local experts who are primarily the shopkeepers for any assistance in terms of farming or issues they face in the farming. The remedies suggested by these shopkeepers were expensive or not much effective which he realized only later after having benefited by Practical Answers.

    Similarly Brijesh Kumar Gupta, another energetic young man from the crowd started sharing his story.  He hailed from the nearby village of Singham Kheda. Most of the people in his village were having issues which were never solved permanently. They had no access to expert service and hence, farming was not much profitable in comparison to current scenario.

    Interaction with the Villagers at Rampur

    Our field coordinator Anoop, who is from Aligunj, shared that, under this Krishak Gyan Seva, the local agricultural scientist has been suggesting and answering regular queries by the people. Many of the queries related to pest management, which led to changing practice in the project area, resulting in a decrease of crop diseases, and thereby increasing the production and productivity. According to Anoop there have been lot of queries coming up from the field which are not recurring in nature and which Kisan Gyan Seva has effectively answered. This way of answering the practical problems has made their lives better and have attributed to financial benefit to local farmers.

    After the meeting when I returned to Read India’s centre which was in the city, I saw a full page advertisement on a front page of a national newspaper which was about the manifold developmental activities in the state by the government and looking I thought about Aligunj-Benejir and other villages, on the main road of the city but unable to access electricity for more than 3 hours a day and farmers are going through much hardship. But the only satisfaction was, at least in a place like Rampur our intervention has brought some changes which the people appreciate.

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  • Common struggles of monitoring and evaluation professionals

    In one hand, monitory and evaluation (M&E) professionals are very dissatisfied about their job and treatment they receive from their line management. On the other, in many cases, M&E staff is perceived by other colleagues as enemy. They just look for drawbacks, limitations, failures etc.- are some of the common and popular complaints against M&E staff. It is true that there was time when M&E people also did behave like a police. However, over the times, significant change has emerged in this field. Now many in the development field understand M&E as process of collaborative learning.
    Is it a struggle in Practical Action only? Not at all!

    I had an opportunity to participate in a conference titled “M&E for Responsible Innovation” held in March this year. The event was organized by Centre for Development Innovation, University of Wageningen, The Netherlands. It was first time in my M & E profession to such a big M&E forum. I participated as well as presented a paper on M&E work. Therefore, many ways, the experience was unique to me.

    IMG_20150320_163442

    in the conference, participants from corporate, government agencies, international development- all acknowledged that irrespective the level, it is very challenging job. Professionals of this field hardly can satisfy their line management. They always go through hard time keeping balance between M&E standard and project priority. As it is a common struggle for all M&E professionals across the globe, therefore I get better feeling and my frustration has been reduced to a significant level. I feel like ‘I am not alone’.

    I tried to understand why this frustration and complaint exist around us. I found number of reasons that contributed to this struggles;

    Some common areas of struggles

    1. Structure of M&E and reporting system:
    Struggles of M&E largely depend on M&E structure within the organization. If there are multi-levels M&E system, then integration into different levels is very important; otherwise learning would be confined within own level. And others will not get benefit out of it.
    IMG_5511

    Moreover, reporting system and process is also another important area of struggle. ‘Reporting to whom’ is an issue that M&E staff always think of and put highest priority. If the reporting line takes to a non M&E staff, then the report (findings) obviously would be different than of a M&E. It has been identified and addressed by many big national & international NGOs. Separating M&E from programmes make them more accountable to grasp learning more systematically.

    2.Putting inadequate resources:
    We often see that M&E activities are less resourced in the project budgeting system.. Therefore, M&E staff needs to rely on alternative options to manage regular monitoring visit, capture lessons and share accordingly. Robust M&E system requires smart budget and can extract systematic learning. While these activities are largely non-budgeted, then obviously, output could not be up to the mark.
    IMG_20150224_122858

    In case of evaluation, it is worst. What I have been experiencing is much frustrating. Always we find that budget for evaluation is inadequate. And as donor’s condition, we cannot commission the evaluation by ourselves. Therefore, for obvious reason we have to hire external consultant to carry out the evaluation. When we do not have adequate budget, we cannot get appropriate or qualified person for commissioning the evaluation. Then, what do we do? Two options remains at our hand; one is to hire low grade consultant and get low quality report. In such, M&E staff needs to take additional pain to improve the quality of the report before submitting to donor or preserving for future use. Another option remains at our hand; to convince someone (qualified consultant) with the given budget from our network to carry out the assignment. In this case, we always need to keep in mind that we have to limit our expectations. In both cases, our learning gets less prioritized and lost somewhere in the process.
    IMG_9650

    3. M&E staff should know and can do everything:
    This is a common experience across M&E community. Project management behaves like M&E staff should know everything. Additionally, they would be available to respond any demand raised by any team member (whether it is a report, data, information or setting a meeting with stakeholders in weekend or holiday and what not!). They hardly try to understand that M&E staff also has a life to live. Therefore, M&E staff should not be considered as red cross’s volunteer who would be ready to rescue whenever situation demands.
    IMG_7982

    4. Less independence:
    M&E staff needs to operate their activities with some level of independence (does not mean to run parallel administration). Even most of the cases, M&E staff do follow Logframe, Theory of Change etc, but due to too much dependency to project Managers, they hardly capture any lessons for the projects, programme or even for the organization. Less independence also make people less accountable.

    5. INGO specific problem
    INGOs are too much dependent on external consultant for commissioning any evaluation. They assume that external consultant would maintain neutrality. It never happens that way. If consultant is not appointed by and reported to the donor agency, then consultant would not take any risk of disappointing project management and subsequently loosing future opportunity. For authenticity of the report, methodology is as important as the principal investigator. Always hiring external consultant impacts negatively on M&E staff’s skills level, as they do not have opportunity to get involved directly.

    Research and Evaluation Department (RED) of BRAC would be good example of how team from the same organization do conduct all kinds of studies and evaluation with credible quality.

    6.Are we ready accepting mistakes?
    Lastly, neither the M&E staff nor project team are ready to accept that they can do mistake. Doing mistake is not a crime rather it is an opportunity for learning. Often mistakes bring great learning. This is kind of open secret, everybody understands but nobody accepts. This culture needs to be challenged. If organization allows mistakes, staff will take disciplined risk and more innovation will be coming up.

    How is the way out?

    There are many ways to get out of this circle. However, I would stress on three issues.
    • Firstly, introducing technology in M&E works which could enable auto generation of report, less dependency on people and manual process.
    • Secondly, it is important to engaging M&E staff since begging of the project design so that required expenditures are budgeted, M&E systems and processes are properly designed.
    • Thirdly, important thing is to building bridges between programmes and M&E and different levels of M&E through promoting trust and better engagement.

    In my last words, I am used to get new friends and new enemy (not in true sense but kind of cooperative conflict that theorized by Amartya Sen) in every after three months. Therefore, I am not worried about putting forward the concerns that are associated with quality and effectiveness of the programme. I also know M&E is a thankless job like many others!

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  • What CF can offer to ICT4D project evaluation?

    (more…)

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  • 4 things carried from the ICT4D2015 Singapore conference

    During May 15-18, 7th International Conference on ICT4D (information Communication Technologies for Development) was held in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (http://ictd2015.org/). More than 300 participants across the globe- mostly from academic background participated in the event and made it such critical and insightful event. I was one of the few presenters who were from practitioner background (my academic background may also has fuelled the decision, I believe). A large number of graduate and postgraduate students participated and shared their works. However, there were discussions around why such important conference is confined by academicians only, when this is the emerging field where both practitioner and academics have lot to offer together and to each other.

    1

    Brief on Dishes:
    During four days of the conference, besides the keynote speeches, 22 papers and 50 notes from different context were presented on ICT4D solutions in different sessions. Even broader focuses of the all papers were on ICT4D, but attending in different sessions and reading through all papers and notes, I realized that every single paper has important contribution in knowledge construction around ICT4D. Besides, meeting with scholars around the world, listening to different experiences from diverse contexts gave me overwhelming feelings. There were so many things that I carried with from the event which would certainly help shaping my PhD research and conducting research and assessment around ICT4D in my professional life. I am hopeful, I would be able to integrate at least some of the learning into our Practical Answers (http://answers.practicalaction.org/) work in near future.
    2

    My Presentation on Gayner Hat and RTE:
    I presented a paper on Gayner Hat. The paper was based on findings of Bangladesh part of a multi-country (Bangladesh, Peru and Kenya) pilot study to test effectiveness of an impact framework of Practical Answers-knowledge service of Practical Action. Focus of the paper was on role of RTE (rural technology extensionist) who are attached with ICTs equipped Gayner Hat (knowledge center) to enhancing people’s material wellbeing through information and input services in the grassroots of Bangladesh.

    3

    Four important things I have carried from the conference:

    Skills on Short Presentation (30 second):
    It was so important experience for me to plan and deliver something on my work within 3o seconds in a large auditorium to invite participants to visit my poster. I did it on time focusing only on most important value addition of my work which was so useful. Listening to other 49 presentation helped to better understand how short presentation could be prepared and delivered. Almost all presenters used a single slight but most importantly nobody read out it rather everybody shared attractive (and informative) something to bring attention of all.

    Relevant books, frameworks for assessment of ICT4D intervention:
    As appreciation of my attendance in the conference, I got one important book titled “Impact of Information Society Research in Global South” edited by Chib et al ( which can be downloaded from this link http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-287-381-1). I also found some other important books in author price which I bought. Among those books, “Technologies of choice? ICTs Development and The Capability Approach” by Dorothy Kleine is simply great. Skimming through these books, I am sure my doctoral study as well as professional research on knowledge centre would be benefited. Similarly, during the conference, I attended a session on “The Capability Approach in ICT4D”. Since then, I have been thinking of how it could be integrated into our works. My upcoming blog post will be focusing on that. I will bring some prospective aspects of “The Choice Framework” for evaluating any ICT4D intervention.
    4

    Membership with IPID:
    During the conference, I came to know that in the field of my research, there is a platform for postgraduate student like me. This is IPID (International Network for Postgraduate Students in the area of ICT4D: http://groupspaces.com/ipid/). Any graduate or postgraduate students who has been studying or conducting research in the field of ICT4D can be member of this group. Being member of this group would enable anybody to get updated on what is happening around the world on ICT4D. For example, it provides information of different events (conference, seminar, symposium etc), funding opportunity like SIRCAIII (http://www.sirca.org.sg/), which certainly can help graduate and post graduate students to gain better exposure.

    5

    Meeting Bangladeshi Scholars of similar field:
    Except 2-3 NGO professionals, I hardly knew anybody in Bangladesh doing research in the field of ICT4D. I was desperately looking for opportunity to meet and read works of Bangladeshi scholars. The conference helped me to find many Bangladeshi scholars- who have been working in the field and their works are so relevant for my work as well. Thus, it was so pleasant meeting with them. We could have started initial discussion to form a network among ourselves to help and share information to each other.

    6

    Concluding Remarks:
    As I said earlier, this was mostly conference for academicians. However, there are other conferences of similar field which contrarily dominated by practitioners. For example, during 27-29, 2015, a conference was also organized by CRS titled “ICT4D Increasing Impact Through Innovation” held in Chicago, IL, USA (http://www.ict4dconference.crs.org/), which was more of practical experience focused. Last year, it took place in Nairobi, Kenya. They provide very limited funding support to few authors only. One of my works was selected for presentation but I could not make it because of not having full funding support. Anyway, those’ works are from TechE (technological or engineering) perspective, there is an another conference to be held in London called ACM DEV 2015 (http://acmdev.org/index.php). These are tremendously helpful event for enhancing knowledge and skills, for young scholars in particular.

    As a last note, during this conference, it was decided that next ICT4D2016 (8th International conference on Information Communication Technologies for Development) will be held in University of Michigan, USA. Therefore, those have relevant works to share can make an advance plan. It is important to note that normally this conference provides travel grants to many young scholars.

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  • Development experience from the grass roots


    April 21st, 2015

    An idea began by a couple of international development organizations in Bangladesh has matured from the occasional event to a vibrant Knowledge Network in Bangladesh.

    Documents reveal that in 2009 Action Aid, Bangladesh organized an event called “Poverty and Development: Views from Grassroots”, the first of its kind.  Since 2007 Practical Action Bangladesh has been working with marginalized people with systematic knowledge services at community level and became a strong organizing partner in the following year. Gradually other INGOs which prioritise development from below and sustainability  joined with the initiative – Plan International Bangladesh and Save The Children, Bangladesh.

    1st Regional Knowledge Convention, Khulna, 2013

    There is plenty of theory about the participatory planning process but as yet few ideas and lessons from bottom to top. Since 2009 this consortium has organized four National Knowledge Conventions on the same broad theme, where key words were poverty, development and views from grassroots.

    In 2013 all the partners of this initiative realized that as the platform aimed to capture and take development learning of grassroots to the policy and stakeholders at national level, this convention should be held at local level so that people working with communities can participate directly with their development experiences instead of through their representatives.

    The result was the first regional knowledge convention at Khulna, a coastal region which is the most vulnerable to climate change in Bangladesh.  So review papers on development initiatives, research and best practices of the southern region were presented in that regional convention and came across with some way forward for further policy and practices changes. That first regional convention was widely praised in the national media and by development practitioners. In the concluding session the honourable divisional commissioner and other high officials of that region offered the way forward from a regional perspective.

    Taking this forward from grassroots to policy and development practitioners on 22 April 2015 the Second Regional Knowledge Convention will be held in Rangpur, in the northern region of Bangladesh, a drought prone region along with multiple natural hazards resulting in food scarcity (manga) for part of the year. This time we are aiming to capture the another regional dimension of Food Security, Climate Change and Childrens’ Rights.  So we are anticipating that we will get a national picture of development practices as well as new challenges regarding food security and climate change from both the North and South perspective and will be able to develop a policy briefing paper for development stakeholders.

    We are developing a national knowledge platform where six international development organizations- Action Aid Bangladesh, Practical Action, Plan International, Concern Worldwide, Oxfam and VSO will all work towards improving knowledge services for development initiatives implemented by them and their partners. Bangladesh aims to become a middle income country, where people’s skills and knowledge are enhanced to increase productivity and sustainable growth. This Second Regional Knowledge Convention will highlight the necessity of increasing demand of knowledge services and build national development partners to deliver services at community level as well as enabling policy and development practitioners to create the right environment for improving relevant policies and strategies.

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