A version of this article originally appeared on the website of one of READ’s partner organizations, IREX, and is written by Alex Pompe, who traveled to Bhutan in 2013 as an ICT advisor to READ Global.
READ Global seeks to learn how to effectively partner with local information communications technology (ICT) capacity in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. They want their community library and resource centers to provide ICT services that would benefit local communities directly, and not just provide a place for people to access computers and the Internet.
It seems almost every development project uses technology in some way. International NGO’s and governments are realizing that IREX’s approach to Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) is a worthwhile investment. Through the Center for Collaborative Technology (CCT), our expertise is transferable through consulting services. To date IREX has offered ICT4D consulting for a diverse range of clients like READ Global, making sure that local communities and populations’ needs are considered when using technology in development programming.
IREX CCT consultants conducted a field assessment alongside READ staff in Bhutan. This helped them select appropriate hardware, software, and renewable energy technologies to be installed in READ centers. In addition, READ staff were trained to conduct ongoing community assessment, and adapt their ICT strategy in-house next time challenges arise. Now, through focus-groups, surveys, and interviews, all three of their country teams are able to learn what their beneficiaries’ information needs are and what technology to invest in based on this data.
IREX believes that technology for development is only successful when it is done appropriately. The development challenge and solution should be defined entirely separate from a proposed technology intervention.Technology tools should only be implemented if they connect beneficiaries to their own goals. One must not invest in technology simply for technology’s sake. Putting this ICT4D mindset into practice is something that IREX does within its own programming, but also in support of other governments and organizations around the world.
IREX’s Center for Collaborative Technology (CCT) provides a fresh perspective on advancing development goals by listening to the priorities of those in need and designing appropriate, practical responses. It promotes technology to make real improvements in people’s lives by recognizing that technology tools alone are not a panacea.
About the guest author:
Alex Pompe, Program Manager, IREX
As Program Manager on the Technical Assistance to Regional Study and Resource Centers Program in Namibia, Alex manages the technology aspects that allow communities to access IT resources and training at new regional library centers. Alex traveled to Bhutan in 2013 as an ICT advisor to READ Global.