In 2016 nearly 70% of the bottom fifth of the population in developing countries owned a mobile phone, meaning that the poorest households are more likely to have access to mobiles than toilets or even clean water. This breathtaking reality offers a clear opportunity to use available technologies to increase the outreach and efficiency of specific development interventions. Both donors and civil society organisations (CSOs) are wary of the opportunities and challenges associated with using ICTs in a development context, and much effort has been placed on developing commercially viable and sustainable mobile services for agriculture, health and nutrition over the last few years. However, ICTs are only one piece in a bigger system and sometimes we need to step back a bit to discover how a programme is having an unexpected negative impact in the very same people it is trying to benefit.
My name is Alvaro Valverde and until recently I was working with Oxfam as Private Sector Adviser (ICTs). My work included leading two programmes that used mobile phones to advance Oxfam’s work on livelihoods and women empowerment. One of the programmes was mNutrition, which aims to improve nutrition, food security and livelihoods for people living in poverty in 13 countries, especially women and children, through increased scale and sustainability of mobile based nutrition-sensitive information services on health (mHealth) and agriculture (mAgri). The second programme was Women’s Economic Empowerment and Care (WE-Care), my role focused on the use of ICTs for building evidence for influencing change on unpaid care work (e.g. cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children) in Malawi.
The mNutrition programme in Malawi developed SMS and IVR services for agriculture and health in collaboration with Airtel, the government of Malawi and local content partners. The service arm concentrated on creating commercially viable services, while the content arm focused on developing scientific based behavioural change information and messages. In parallel, the WE-Care programme implemented three research methodologies to gather evidence on the current distribution of unpaid care work in Malawi and on the impact that access to mNutrition services and content had in the re-distribution and reduction of unpaid care work for women smallholder farmers in the country.
Through participatory action research the WE-Care programme identified the current challenges and unequal distribution of care related activities at the household level in Malawi. This research was followed by a household survey, where detailed data was gathered using mobile phones from almost 600 households. The findings from both methodologies supported the idea that women in Malawi have an extremely busy daily schedule, as they carry out the vast majority of care related activities within their households, apart from also engaging in income generating activities.
The third methodology was a Randomised Control Trial (RCT), which aimed to understand the impact that access to mNutrition services had on the allocation of time to unpaid care work. Participants in the treatment group received a total of 24 SMS on their mobile phones (health, agriculture and food preparation messages) while those in the control group received a total of 12 messages containing interesting facts and seasonal greetings. The findings from the RCT revealed that the mNutrition programme was having an unexpected impact on the lives of the participants: users of the services prioritized the application of those messages directly related to income-generating activities during the first two months of receiving the information, to the detriment of messages directly linked to health and food practices; this increase in the time allocated to productive work also resulted in a reduction of sleep hours and time dedicated to personal care, as well as a higher perception of the occurrence of domestic violence by participants in the treatment group.
While it is worth taking into account the short period of time in which the RCT took place, these results point to higher calorie consumption by the participants (more time spent in the field and less sleep hours) and no increase in calorie intake, which could result in a potential reduction of the nutrition levels of the beneficiaries in the short term. This would directly challenge the overall goal of the mNutrition programme and even its sustainability in the long term. These findings were used to create a set of recommendations for the redesign of the mNutrition programme and also to inform the development of future ICT4D programmes that target poor women living in developing countries. Read the complete research and recommendations here.
There are three main things I have learned from this experience: women in developing countries have an extremely busy daily schedule and successful behaviour change can only happen if women’s time constraints are taken into account from the onset of a programme; more research is needed to better understand what works and what doesn’t when using ICTs in a developing context, particularly for mobile based information services that aim to promote behavioural change; and ICT4D programmes should not be developed in isolation, but rather linked to ongoing development interventions and existing sources of information.
What is the link between mobile value-added services and unpaid care work?
was published on 07.12.2016 by Alvaro Valverde. It files under sub saharan africa
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We are proud to announce that two of our former student who worked with us in our last ICT4DMZ project were part of the OurMoz (Mauro Banze, Alfredo Muchanga and Félix Barros) team which won the World Bank’s #APPS4MAPUTO contest in Mozambique. Mauro and Alfredo gained in our lecture at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) a better understanding for mobile software development and design. Mauro said that in our courses he learned a lot about software design which also partly enabled their success. He describes their work as a
crowdsourcing Android app that would allow citizens to report problems in their communities and share relevant information with others.
They worked together with the Associação Fraunhofer Portugal Research (Fraunhofer Portugal) and they describe their cooperative output as follows:
The Android App developed within the scope of this competition allows the community supervisors to report situations detected on the field more rapidly; to consult geotagged events, according to a specific category or location; to validate the information submitted by citizens, as well as to give feedback about each situation’s resolution status, assuring that all information is integrated with participatory monitoring platform ntxuv.
The Application’s stability and usability, the reliability of the information communication, the App’s positive response to the needs of the Participatory Urban Service Monitoring for Maputo Municipality, as well as its capacity to motivate the supervisory workers, were among the qualities acknowledged to the group of young research students Mauro Banze, Félix Barros e Alfredo Muchanga, from the OurMoz team. Moreover, these were the evaluation criteria applied to all solutions submitted to the contest and assessed by judges a panel, which comprehended representatives from several major organizations, such as the World Bank, the Swedish Embassy in Maputo, the mobile communications company mCel, the startup Ideario, and the company UX.
We are very happy and wish them all the best for their future. Keep up your awesome work!
A few months ago we supported Noah from the Keta Senior High Technical School to finance his drone project. We are happy to announce that the project was a success and the drone arrived at the school. Noah and his colleagues are already experimenting with their new flying technology, check out the pictures below!
But they are not stopping there. A new research project has started a few days ago and they need your support! They will use the drone to create a documentary on salt mining. Once again we support their awesome idea and call for your funding!
Check out their project here:
Due to our Digital media training for teachers in Ghana project in Keta we are in close contact to the Keta Senior High School. Local students want to start a new research project on salt mining the area and they are looking for your support!
“Our mission is to discover how salt mining is done over there and to listen to the various views of the people concerning the challenges they face in their effort to develop their salt mining.
We would learn about how salt is mine locally and develop ways to solve the challenges the miners face in other to enhance their work. Another aim is to discover some of the resource they have and to come up with a way to utilize them.”
To find clever students at the Keta Senior High Technical School is not that hard, but what Noah does is simply amazing. He is one of the most talented kids at his school and continues to work on our project in Ghana (with Margarete’s online support). Voluntarily engaging and working with his colleagues is naturally for him. They founded a “Mobile Learning Society” at the school, are experimenting with robotics (see photo) and most important: approximately half of the group are girls, which is not so common in other schools. Within his new project he and the the “Mobile Learning Society” publish Wikipedia articles and contribute with their work to the free online encyclopedia.
Currently he is collecting money for a drone to give people all over the world an insight to his work, life and great projects. With the drone they can get a better view from above. One of their first filming projects will be a report about salt evaporation in Ghana. Their experiments will be documented in a blog. All together it is a big step forward with the regard to STEM developments launched currently all over the world.
If you are stunned like us, the please consider to donate a small amount of money to his awesome project:
If you can’t, then please share his vision to reach as many people as possible!
We would like to say thank you and wish Noah all the best
The ICT4DMZ project is now running quite a while and after three amazing weeks in Maputo we are one big step further to reach our goals. Philipp and I (Paul Spiesberger) tried to bring the students of the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo on the right track.
In more than eight workshops we gave them the tools and the knowledge to start programming for their projects. At the beginning we tried to find out on which level their skills are and what we can expect. From that point on we knew that we will have to give them a short introduction to modern software development in a team as well. Up to that day the students were exchanging code with Dropbox and they had almost no structure or/and organisation for their teamwork. At that time we were glad that Florian and Anders did great work a few months ago. They helped them with team roles and project documentation a lot. So it was not necessary to cover that important part too. In order to give them an easy tool to handle their code and the organisation of their projects, we introduced them to GIT and Bitbucket. The students were impressed by the GIT workshop and we were happy to see over the next days that some of them were porting their “Dropbox projects” to their new GIT repositories. Working with Bitbucket-Issues was not that successful at the beginning, but we are sure that this will change over time. From that point on we were ready for programming and we split up the group by the two projects:
The goal of this project is to create a website which can handle complaints about a company or a product. It should gather information or feedback and help to improve their services. Philipp started with a short tutorial about the PlayFramework and helped to set everything up. After that he assisted with his expertise as much as he could.
The other group is working on an Android app for students to find POI like lecture rooms, Wifi hotspots or public power plugs at the UEM campus. I started to teach them the basics of Android programming and helped them to set up the project. Since Java programming and developing for Android are quite different, it took a little bit longer to write the first line of code. I tried to explain step by step the important parts and assisted as much as I could.
In total we worked about 27 hours in three weeks with the students. We had some troubles finding the right time slots for all students, since they had different time schedules during their weeks. Especially at the beginning we did some workshops twice, so no one missed the introductions to the technologies. After that, not all students attended to our workshops all the time, but we were never alone.
From now on, we will assist via Skype and e-mail remotely from Austria. We have a good feeling for the outgoing of the projects and hopefully the students keep engaged in the next months as they were during our workshops.
During our stay we also helped the UEM to use Moodle for a first test run. We hope that in the future this modern way of IT supported teaching will be expanded to other lectures and faculties to strengthen the teaching abilities at the UEM.
In addition Philipp and I were working hard on our master thesis. Philipp is doing research on big data for emerging countries and for that he conducted some expert interviews. I am interested in user interface design for mobile devices in emerging countries like Mozambique. So I did a survey with students to find out their mobile phone usage and habits.
Of course we also found time to travel and to take a look at this beautiful country. When you talk to people in Mozambique, experience the beautiful landscape and take the time to look behind the curtain, then you get the feeling that this country is moving fast forward. The question is in which direction. The currently discovered massive resources (minerals, oil, gas) can have a positive or a negative impact to the society. There is also a new party growing really fast and it is gaining more and more influence. In the last few months the country was almost slipping into a new civil war. But one week before we arrived, they managed to find a compromise and elections are going to happen in the future. But I think that despite the fact of great poverty, corruption and the lack of education, Mozambique has the ability to find the way to a great and rich future.
Last but not least I would like to say thank you to Emilio Mosse and Andrei Shindyapin. We are lucky to have this partner and friends in Maputo, who are willing to share their valuable time and love with us. Also a big thank you to the students for their great effort and time!
Philipp and I are excited to continue the work and we are looking forward to meeting our friends in Maputo again.
Modern software development workshops at the UEM Maptuo
was published on 03.03.2014 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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As proposed after the successful workshop at KETASCO last year (see
http://ict4d.at/2012/10/06/keta-project-looking-back/) a follow up workshop on the topic “Learning and Teaching with Digital Technology had taken place in September 2013 in Keta. The school is still growing and hosts now about 2.800 students, another 15 classes in a new block open next year.
The second workshop focused on development of content for mobile learning with teachers and students and was scheduled for three weeks from 9th to 28th September 2013. The aim was to offer a chance for students to access learning material on their own mobile phones whenever they need it and to produce content particular to local demands:
Schedule: two weeks teacher training and a third week teamwork of teachers and students. Topics of the workshop:
- Development of locally relevant digitized content and upload to mobile phones. Test and peer-review
- Use of a Dropbox for feedback and reviews. (possibilities. benefits and challenges)
- Creation of a personal digital portfolio.
- Didactical methods: Evaluation of digital learning material e.g. Open Content, OER.
- Guidelines for Best practice: Mobile phones for learning’.
Initially 20 teachers registered; finally 14 fulfilled the requirements for a certificate. During the third week 13 students participated. For testing 20 mobile phones (Nokia E5-00 smartphone with MicroSDHC 2GB inbox) and 5 eReader (TrekSTor E-Book Reader Pyrus mini, 4,3” Digital Ink) were brought from Europe, together with an additional WLAN router to
support mobile Internet access. Noah, an ICT student of KETASCO assisted in technical and organizational aspects, his
support was highly appreciated and contributed to the success of the workshop.
Students were introduced by teachers in creating a digital portfolio and use of a drop-box. Together they created courses for specific subjects and topics:
- Social Studies: Adolescence Pregnancy
- Social Studies: Adolesence Chastity
- Physics: Projectiles
- Physics: Atom Physics, Basics
- English Language: Nouns
- ICT: Classification of Computer Hardware
- Business Studies: Law of agency
- Graphics and Art: Elements of Design
- Chemistry: Inter Atomic Bonds
- Economics: Demand
- Mathematics: SET Theory
The courses were presented from a student accompanied by teacher to the auditorium. Finally four external examiners
(teachers from other SHSS) approved the success of the workshop and the quality of the developed material. They gave feedback to the participants in the three categories:
- Teachers’ Portfolios (evaluation of reports, structure, achieved learning outcomes, keywords, take home statements, summary
- Content of developed Courseunits (micro-content) developed by teachers and students units (small groups, 1-2 teachers+ 1-2 students). Assessment of course-structure, -design, suitable for small screens, visualization/images. Output as epub and pdf.
- Guidelines for good practice, posters. The assessment checked on completedness of relevant facts and if the take in account needs of both parts (teachers and students) to gain better acceptance
Challenges were seen in the frequent power outages, which impair the work in the computerlab. Noah is also the tutor of a team working on robotics. They prepare to participate in a comettion on robotics.
The second workshop led to a better understanding of the issue of mobile devices for learning than theoretical statements A similar acceptance was found in the interview with the headmaster. Teamwork with students offered new insights as well for teachers as for students and can be recognized as a basis for further developments in
teaching and learning. Teachers were encouraged to pass their learned skills on to students and colleagues afterwards.
In the opening ceremony the headmaster reported to all students and teachers about the new trends coming up in education. He addressed that this could help to become critical thinkers, referred to new didactical methods and benefits by integrating mobile devices in learning and teaching. He proposed a reform of the guidelines for the use of mobile devices at school. 14 teachers were handed over their certificates of successful completion of the workshops. Finally 4 laptops from Austrian donors were handed to the school to benefit students and teachers in the new built library.
We hope that the expertise gained in the workshops will affect further developments.
Publications of the project in international journals:
Grimus, M., Ebner, M., Holzinger, A. 2013a. Mobile Learning as a chance to enhance education in developing
countries – in the example of Ghana. In: mLearn 2012 Conference Proceedings. Specht, M., Sharples, M.,
Multisittla, J. (Ed.), Helsinki, Finland, p. 340-345, ISSN 1613-073, Volume 955, http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-955/
Grimus, M. and Ebner, M. 2013b. M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa Context- What is it about. In . Jan
Herrington et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and
Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 2028-2033). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved 28.10. 2013 from
The support to the Workshops with mobile devices (mobile phones and laptops) and the provided prices have contributed a lot to the success of the project. This is why I would like to thank Mr. Tom Trauner for assembling of the phones and the donation of lot of material. My thanks address also the Austrian Computer Society which supported the project with pen drives, T-shirts and caps. Many thanks to the anonymous donators who supported the project with laptops via mediation of Dr. Baumer.
Particularly I would want to thank my mentor, Univ. Prof. Dr. Martin Ebner of the University of Technology Graz, who helps me any time with advice and suggestions; his contributions benefit a lot to the success of the project.
Anders and me are back in Austria now after an exciting month in Mozambique, working for the project ICT4DMZ at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo. We had a great time and would like to thank our partners on the spot, Emilio Mosse and Andrei Shindiapin. Below there’s a group picture with them and Marcia, a future PhD student in Maputo and Vienna. We are very happy that we can offer her this opportunity together with APPEAR and TU Wien.
All in all we have had quite some time in several lessons with the students to bring forward the concepts for the two applications they were interested in creating. In this blog post you can find some pictures of how we worked together. Of course after three weeks we could only touch some things and the use case diagrams, list of system components, UML diagrams and mockups we created are a first draft only. However, I’m proud of everything we produced and it gives a good impression what the applications should do. Now it’s up to the students and their supervisors to work on the projects until February, when two colleagues, Paul and Philipp will come to Maputo to deal with implementation of the two applications. We will try to keep in touch with the students and hopefully they will find time besides their many duties at university to continue their efforts with “Safe Maputo” and “Complaint Center”.
Additionally to the course, Anders and me held two presentations for students of informatics and journalism about current developments in media. We dealt with topics as diverse as the Raspberry Pi or PRISM and received a good deal of interest.
Finally I can only express my hopes that what we’ve said and done has helped the students broaden their horizon in general and increase their insights into software creation. I had a good time working with the students and am looking forward to keep in touch and observe the development of the applications.
As already announced, since 6 September our member Margarete Grimus is in Ghana and holding the in-service training for teachers in digital media skills in public schools in Ghana at Keta Senior High Technical School since a week already.
Now here’s a short sum up of what she writes about how everything is going:
The course is running alright, we start every day at 8 AM until 1 PM officially – but so far we never stopped before 1:30 PM. […] There are plenty of computers in the computer room, but only 5 are working and they regrettably have viruses. Also, we don’t have access to internet. I bought an own internet stick myself on the first day and I’m using that one. There are 12 participants of the course with very different levels of skills, but the spirit is very good. […]
From next week on we’ll only start at 3 PM because regular school is commencing.The fact that we don’t have internet is quite a constraint in the course contents. Also I cant use the questionnaire I developed upfront. What’s very good is that two thirds of the participants have their own laptops with them. […]
It’s also very interesting to find out about the didactical aspects, which I find very important. There’s something new coming to my mind every day. […] The participants have a portfolio where they are summing up down every day what they learned and everybody is very interested and motivated. […]
We also have some pictures of Margarete at the school and with her hosts which you see above.
So, let’s hope internet will be available this week and that there’s a lot going forward at the course!
- If you are off-the-grid and need to use batteries, don’t used lead car batteries, which can cause big problems if/when they tip over, even if they are commonly available. Use sealed AGM batteries instead.
- Let’s be honest: In most cases, there are too few computers in a school for too manystudents, and it is difficult to integrate their use into normal instruction. Don’t make things more difficult by segregating computers into their own special rooms (e.g. computer labs). Instead, take the technology to the teachers and students where they are currently teaching and learning — in the classroom itself — and use tools like projectors and interactive whiteboards that impact as many students as possible at one time. (While you’re at it, be prepared to spend more on teacher training and support than on the technology itself.)
- Given a choice (and there is a choice more often that you might think!), always search for local products (or, barring that, products that can be assembled locally) instead of immediately looking to import goods from abroad — this can be key to keeping costs down and keeping your supply chain as local as possible. This approach applies as much to the PVC material that they use for the portable ‘interactive whiteboards’ that they have assembled as to lesson plans, which are developed locally.
- Here’s a short promotional video from Cybersmart Africa showing off its work. (A hint: watch it first with the sound off to focus on what classrooms in participating pilot schools actually look like)
- Here are some interviews with school leaders (don’t turn the sound down on this one!) and a short explanation of how text messages (SMS) are being used in conjunction with low cost interactive whiteboards to support teachers.
- Cybersmart has also posted 17 student-made videos, put together as a result of a special ‘digital storytelling’ initiative it sponsored. The idea here was first to gain the confidence and support of parents and community leaders by extend traditional storytelling customs into the digital realm, before moving on to other things. The result: 17 portraits of contemporary village life in Senegal.