Publications

By freely sharing what we learn, we have built a reputation as thought leaders who translate ideas into action and action into results. You can browse through recently published articles from all our publications ( Checkpoint, Developments, Developing Alternatives, DAIdeas, [email protected] ) below—or visit individual publication sites for a full archive.

Digital Identity Series Part 1: Digital Identity and Informed Consent

Digital

This post marks the launch of a Digital Identity series here on [email protected] It is a pivotal topic to many of our technical areas: from health service provision, to cash transfers, and voter registration. It is also a topic garnering increased attention with the debate over privacy and data security—and the global refugee crisis reinforcing the …

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Nobody Cares What Tech You Use

Digital

Technologists and developers love to talk about the best tools for building new technology. MERN or MEAN stack, functional vs. object-oriented programming, vanilla development or frameworks. The internet is ripe with these discussions and attend any tech meetup and you’ll easily find multiple discussions comparing one tool to another. The perfor…

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Now More Competitive, Jordan’s Pharmaceuticals See Healthy Jump in Exports

Developments

Six Jordanian pharmaceutical companies have reported an additional US$55.6 million in exports since installing the electronic Common Technical Document (eCTD) system in December 2016. The installation allows the companies to register their drugs in foreign markets using internationally recognized standards, enabling faster and more competitive d…

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Is Your Data in a Lake or Water Treatment Plant?

Digital

They say to write about what you know. For the first part of my career and through my formal education, my work was all based in the world of water and sanitation. Glamorous stuff—pipes and pumps, fecal coli-forms and treatment options, toilets and activated sludge. It made for great dinner conversation (or so says my wife). At some point, I mad…

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Apply Now to Support Digital Tools and Approaches for USAID’s Bureau for Food Security

Digital

Rapidly changing access to digital tools such as basic mobile phones is changing the landscape for how we can address the challenges to ending global hunger, undernutrition, and extreme poverty. “Despite our collective progress in global food security and nutrition over recent years, a projected 702 million people still live in extreme poverty; …

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How to Ensure Voluntary Sustainability Standards are More Effective in Promoting Gender Equality in Global Value Chains

Developments

Voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) are guidelines that industry producers, traders, manufacturers, retailers, or service providers are asked to meet that encourage respect for basic human rights, worker health and safety, environmental impacts, community relations, land-use planning, and more. The standards include certification and ethica…

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INVEST: On the Frontier of Gender-Lens Investing

Developments

Gender-lens investing is gaining momentum and for good reason.In the United States, most gender-lens investors target companies with significant numbers of female leaders and board members. Investing in these companies makes financial sense because they have proven potential to outperform the market: Numerous researchers have demonstrated lower …

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KIC Mauritania: Winners Announced!

Digital

Since 2016, DAI has provided support to the Kosmos Innovation Center (KIC), which got its start in Ghana and expanded its work Mauritania in 2018. Last week, KIC Mauritania’s 2018 cohort of young entrepreneurs pitched concepts to a panel of judges, competing for more than $85,000 in total seed funding. Unlike KIC Ghana, which focuses solely on s…

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Building a Culture of Innovation in Cambodia

Digital

Many in international development want to be “innovative,” but how do workplaces develop cultures that promote useful innovation? The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched Development Innovations (DI) in 2013 to help Cambodian civil society organizations and tech companies leverage technology to address social needs. This ob…

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In Uganda, Local Hearings Show Accountability in Action

Developments

Audits, oversight procedures, compliance protocols—the language of public accountability can seem bureaucratic and dry. The reality in Uganda is anything but.

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Machine Learning Changes the Business Case for Automated Phishing Attacks

Digital

Researchers have demonstrated the capability of machine learning to help with everything from saving honeybees and tracking flu vaccine uptake, to aiding in the fight against bioterrorism, and plenty in between. But machine learning can also be put to less-scrupulous uses just as easily. Social engineering is a type of cyber attack that deceives…

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Lessons from the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize: The Importance of Ensuring Goals Align

Digital

One of the attractions of awarding prizes in global development is that the prize sponsor shifts the responsibility of achieving results onto competitors. While this approach can inspire a range of creative solutions and spur a nascent market, it also means many finalists will develop something valuable whether they win the award or not. For a p…

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The (Missing) Digital Principle: Educate the User

Digital

We in the international development community talk a lot about privacy and security in digital development. We try to think through privacy and security in terms of the data we collect, what we do with it, and even how we address issues of consent around data collection. There’s an entire digital principle about it. In discussions like these, pr…

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Improving Livestock Markets to Generate Economic Growth and Resilience in East Africa

Developments

East Africa’s immense livestock resources represent the largest proportion of Africa’s livestock population. Many millions of people depend on the sector for food, income, and employment, and it contributes greatly to the region’s gross domestic product and foreign currency earnings. Strategically located near the livestock mar…

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Will Feminized Parliaments Mean More Gender-Friendly Policies?

Developments

On January 3, 2019, a new U.S. House of Representatives was sworn in with 102 women members—a record number for the United States. All told, 127 women are serving between House and Senate, a 20 percent increase in the number of women over the previous Congress.

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In Afghanistan, Women Step Up to Fill Need for Frontline Healthcare Workers

Developments

Communities across Afghanistan—especially the dispersed populations in rural areas—have long endured a lack of basic health services due to low numbers of trained health workers and chronic security issues. But this situation is improving. Today, a program to bolster women’s inclusion in Afghanistan’s mainstream economy is also serving to fill h…

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Access as an Assumption: The Unintended Consequence of Increasing Digital Access

Digital

In our quest to increase digital access, we tend to focus on the dividends, rather than the negatives that can arise. We are understandably excited about edging closer to universal access and the new business opportunities and improvements to service provision that accompany it. But while we are improving in our endeavor to promote online safety…

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Working in Agriculture? Using Digital Ag Tools? Please Fill Out This Survey!

Digital

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has worked with Missions to integrate digital tools and technologies into Feed the Future activities since 2015, first through the U.S. Global Development Lab-led Digital Development for Feed the Future(D2FTF) initiative and now through the Bureau for Food Security (BFS) (BFS). BFS works with…

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Building Inclusivity into Inclusive Education

Developments

Since the Millennium Development Goals were established in 2000, the number of out-of-school children in the world has dropped from nearly 100 million to 65 million, and in most countries, girls have achieved equal attendance in primary schools through hard-fought wins. At the same time, however, we are still not reaching millions of out-of-scho…

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How Digital Tools Help Combat Illegal Mining and Logging in the Amazon

Digital

A recent report prepared by the Amazonian Geo-referenced Socio-Environmental Information Network (RAISG) and InfoAmazonia, in coordination with eight other Latin American institutions, published a map that shows more than 2,000 data points across the Amazon where illegal activity is occurring. This includes illegal mining and logging in 96 prote…

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A Resolution to Support the Tech Sector Where We Need It Most

Digital

On January 5, I posted the message below on Facebook to hold myself accountable to my New Year’s resolution.

It’s simple. I want tech businesses to grow and thrive in Nigeria outside of Lagos. I want to support someone who grew up in, works in, and wants to continue working in my hometown, Uyo. This is not just my resolution, but has been my l…

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The Four Rs: An Interview With the Lean Research Initiative

Digital

We are huge fans of the Lean Research initiative at DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration. I recently went to the Massachusetts Institute for Technology’s MIT D-Lab and sat with Elizabeth, Kendra, and Kim, the team behind Lean Research, to learn more about the genesis of the initiative and what tools and resources they offer ICT4D practitioners …

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Citizen-Centered Design and Frontier Insights in Kabul

Digital

The Center for Digital Acceleration is excited to announce that we’re taking MiMuni, the open-source transparency and citizen participation application developed for Guatemalan municipalities, and replicating it for five municipalities in Afghanistan through the Strong Hubs for Afghan Hope and Resilience (SHAHAR) project, which is funded by the …

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6 Tips for Making Great Monitoring and Evaluation Dashboards

Digital

Technology and data are converging in ways that allow monitoring and evaluation (M&E) professionals to more effectively monitor, evaluate, learn, and adapt on their projects. Dashboards are one of the key tools contributing to this trend, having become more accessible and user friendly through platforms such as Microsoft PowerBI. Dashboards …

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Frontier Insights: Cyber Security Edition

Digital

The headline says it all: “Over a billion people’s data was compromised in 2018.” Among the most egregious offenders were some of the most popular tech platforms in the world: Facebook, for example, admitted it had leaked the personal data of nearly 150 million users; Twitter leaked the passwords of nearly all 330 million of its users; and even …

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Looking Ahead: What We’re Thinking About in 2019

Digital

In our last post, we reviewed our top posts of 2018. The most-read articles covered a lot of ground—from Fortnite for development to digital lives in rural Malawi to making your own chatbot. We equally expect 2019 to be full of interesting projects, engaging conversations with colleagues, and, as always, meaningful opportunities to keep learning…

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[email protected] Year in Review: Top 10 Posts of 2018

Digital

This year, [email protected] published more than 50 posts covering everything from women’s entrepreneurship in Cambodia to cyber security for development to smartphone apps for fisheries in Central America. We featured digital experts from organizations such as John’s Hopkins University, Simprints, Every1Mobile, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), …

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An Embarrassment of Riches

Digital

Years ago, yours truly was struggling with a major life decision, one that had led to many a sleepless night: Where to go to grad school? I’d been accepted into a number of programs and was agonizing over my options. My dad had graciously taken on the role of my sounding board until one day he blurted out in frustration, “you have an embarrassme…

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Why the Time is Right for Access for All

Developments

Following is DAI CEO Jim Boomgard’s Foreword to Access for All, Brigit Helms’ new book on economic inclusion:For the first time in my career as a development professional—a career that goes back to the early 1980s—informed observers are talking in credible terms about ending extreme poverty, not just within our lifetimes but within the for…

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Four Steps to Advocate for Government Investment in Public Health

Developments

In Nigeria, as in many countries, the government faces practical hurdles to funding health systems adequately and preventing sickness and disease among its most susceptible citizens. As Health Systems Advisor for DAI Global Health on the Integrated Approach to Neglected Tropical Diseases (UNITED) programme, I advocate for increased, cost-effecti…

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Can Online Dispute Resolution Change the Way Global MSMEs Do Business?

Developments

As a grad student in London in the 1990s, I earned a bit of extra money sourcing and exporting handcrafted furniture from India to the United States for interior designers. My U.S. customers were small businesses, but I was even smaller, so if I wanted to sell to them I had to take on most of the risk. On school breaks I would travel to India, f…

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Putting the Value in Land Titling

Developing Alternatives

What is a land title worth? The prevailing assumption in development circles is that helping smallholders acquire formal title to the land they farm will help them integrate into formal economic channels, invest more in their property, and access loan financing. But in practice most land titling programs have focused on the process of delivering…

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Case Study: A Market Systems Approach to Deriving Value from Land Certificates in Ethiopia

Developing Alternatives

Funded by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), the Land Investment for Transformation (LIFT) project works to raise incomes for poor and vulnerable populations in Ethiopia and to enhance economic growth through second-level land certification and improved rural land administration.

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Case Study: Overcoming Land Tenure Issues to Stimulate Investment in Mozambique

Developing Alternatives

In Mozambique, the Innovation for Agribusiness project (InovAgro) uses a market systems approach to encourage investment by smallholder farmers in agricultural productivity, thereby boosting their incomes. But many of those smallholders find themselves increasingly at risk of losing their land to large investors who, with the backing of the gove…

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Beyond Boundaries: How Secure Land Tenure is Improving Lives in Rural Tanzania

Developing Alternatives

After Monika Lalika’s husband passed away, her in-laws did not allow her to use the land he had left her and she used to worry that they would one day claim the property for themselves. For Martha Paulo Mwilongo, a land dispute with her neighbor kept her from selling or renting part of her 11 acres to pay her children’s school fees. Joti Kihongo…

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Land Titles in Ethiopia Open Doors to Finance and Investment

Developing Alternatives

While still one of the poorest countries in the world, Ethiopia has made major advances in reducing poverty and increasing agricultural production in recent years. However, the pace of progress is constrained by inefficiencies in the rural land sector, including weak documentation and management of land rights.

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Baseline Study Prompts School Officials to Counter Violence in Honduras

Developments

Too often, in our experience as development professionals, baseline surveys can seem like proforma exercises—dry, mechanical constructs conducted at the beginning of a project, shelved almost as soon as they are done, then dusted off for the midline survey. By the time we conduct the endline, the project is closing. Baseline findings don’t drive…

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Women and Girls Advocate for Their Place in Afghanistan’s Social and Political Mainstream

Developments

Girls and women in Afghanistan are transitioning away from Taliban-era oppression to attend school, get jobs, and fully participate in mainstream life. Afghan leaders and politicians have enacted national laws to support this movement, but the reality in Afghanistan’s 34 provinces is another matter. Girls and women in too many locales routinely …

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How Developing Countries Can Identify and Allocate Resources to Pay for Health Services

Developments

Governments in many low- and middle-income countries have committed to provide affordable and high-quality health services to their citizens. To make good on these promises, they need to identify more money for health expenditure and need to invest it more wisely. Our recent policy paper—Financial Management Mechanisms to Support Increased Gover…

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Iraq’s Prisoner Dilemma

Checkpoint

The rise of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization presented civilians caught in IS-controlled areas with limited choices. While a small percentage joined the group as combatants—either willfully or under coercion—more sought other ways to survive and provide for their families. In these situations, ordinary people can easily become compl…

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Demand for Private Capital Draws USAID Units to INVEST Program

Developments

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) units around the world are increasingly asking for specialized support to mobilize private capital—requests now being met by the agency’s new INVEST program. In less than one year, USAID missions, bureaus, and other operating units have hired the INVEST team to support 17 initiatives to develop m…

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Market-Driven Cash-for-Work Projects Show Promise in Somalia—and Beyond?

Checkpoint

Editor’s Note: This post expands on a report originally prepared for the Centre for Development Results. The Somali peninsula—home to 14.32 million people—suffered a devastating drought in early 2017, leading to widespread crop failures and livestock losses that have dangerously affected the region’s food security. The Food and Agriculture Organ…

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Afghan Women Re-Enter the Economy as Workers, Business Owners

Developments

As Afghanistan transitions toward a market-driven economy and away from one supported by foreign assistance, jobs will inevitably be lost. The Afghan Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyred, and Disabled predicts that 4 million jobs will be needed over the next five years to replace lost jobs and absorb the rising generation of graduates.

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Jordan Embraces Renewables to Fuel its Economy

Developments

Jordan needs to grow its economy. More than 700,000 of its young people—39 percent of the available labor force ages 15 to 24—are without a job. Many have good educations and are holding out for high-quality employment. Jordan is also hosting an enormous influx of Syrian refugees, which has helped swell its population from 7.5 million in 2011 to…

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Report: Youth and Violent Extremism in Mindanao, Philippines

Checkpoint

Development responses to violent extremism are challenged by a lack of methods for rigorously testing assumptions about and determining the relative importance of different drivers of extremism. DAI’s Center for Secure and Stable States designed and implemented a mixed-methods research methodology for addressing these challenges on the Enhancing…

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Keep Up the Fight for High-Quality Education for All in Pakistan

Developments

After more than five years of campaigning for the right of every Pakistani child to receive a quality education, Alif Ailaan ended on August 31. Before we go, we should explain why the campaign is ending, and more importantly, we should thank the people that made this campaign as effective as it was.

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The Money Trail, Part I: Safe Charitable Giving in Pakistan

Checkpoint

Counter-threat finance—the efforts to reduce the flow of money that funds terrorism and organized crime—has been a key component of the international community’s struggle against terrorism since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. When we think of counter-threat finance, international banking, money laundering, and oil smuggling come to mi…

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Placing Women at the Center of Water Supply Management in Kenya

Developments

As Christine Kanini checks water meters on her weekly rounds, she recalls that 18 months earlier she could not aspire to this job. “We had mainly male meter readers,” Kanini said. “Then I was promoted to this position from gate keeping. I am happy with the work.” Over the past year, the Wote Water and Sewerage Company (WOWASCO), which serves the…

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Health System in Haiti Takes Key Step by Launching National Tuberculosis Tracker

Developments

Haiti’s government this year launched a national electronic platform for reporting and tracking tuberculosis (TB), a key step in its efforts to capture, monitor, and report all patient-level data across the country. Information on cases of TB—a contagious and often deadly disease plaguing the Caribbean nation—is being prepared for aggregation in…

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Using Market-Driven Strategies to Reduce Poverty and Human Trafficking in Nigeria

Developments

Despite having the largest economy in Africa, around half of Nigeria’s population still lives in extreme poverty. A few hundred miles east of the new skyscrapers and shopping malls of Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos, the Niger Delta—made up of nine oil-producing states and home to more than 31 million people—defines the country’s stark con…

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Collaboration is Essential to Improving Maternal and Newborn Health in Indonesia

Developments

This opinion piece was first published in the Jakarta Post on August 15, 2018. As Indonesia celebrates its 73rd year of independence, most people are aware of the country’s impressive economic development over the past few years. But perhaps fewer are aware that, every hour, across this massive archipelago, two mothers and eight newborns die.

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Agriculture Finance with a Climate Lens Takes Off in Kenya

Developments

The effects of climate change in the already arid lands of Kenya are particularly tough on its economy. Think: tourism, arable agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, and livestock—all vulnerable to extreme changes in weather.

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Q&A: Complexity-Aware Planning for Stabilization Programming

Checkpoint

In complex and unstable environments, standard performance monitoring is often insufficient to ensure activities remain relevant and adapt to the evolving ecosystem in which they are implemented. DAI’s complexity-aware planning (CAP) cycle is designed for situations where the understanding of a country’s conflict is narrow, conditions are consta…

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Zambia Pilot Demonstrates How to Save Lives, Scale Relief for Children Suffering from Malaria

Developments

Thousands of infants and children in rural Zambia suffer or die unnecessarily from malaria each year because they lack access to high-quality medicines and proper medical care. But a recent pilot program shows how trained local volunteers administering crucial medicine can keep a child well enough to be transported to a health care facility for …

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DFID Programme Helps Establish Business Equipment Leasing in Sub-Saharan Africa’s Largest Country

Developments

Leasing equipment—instead of finding the cash to buy it—is fundamental to the growth of small and growing businesses, yet small-business owners in Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest nation have been unable to do so, because the regulatory framework that underpins leasing transactions didn’t exist. Until now.

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Alternative Dispute Resolution: New Evaluation Shows Its Impacts and Limitations in Reducing Violence

Checkpoint

In conflict-affected countries, formal legal systems often are limited, with department or agency staffs absent or overloaded or both, leaving communities with few or no dispute resolution mechanisms. In their place, communities tend to rely on informal processes or institutions to resolve disputes before they escalate to violence. Development p…

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Trauma Awareness and Healing: A Step on the Path to Peace

Checkpoint

I recently traveled to South Sudan to investigate efforts to address trauma in a region that has experienced nearly 27 years of war since the 1980s. As a global development professional and trauma educator, I don’t need to be convinced of the need to address trauma as part of a portfolio of peacebuilding activities. Encouragingly, an increasing …

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A Good Facilitator is Hard to Find: This Might Help

Checkpoint

As measures to counter violent extremism (CVE) are complex and unproven, development practitioners must pay attention to any and all variables that even appear to be important. One of those key common factors is the importance of a good facilitator. Luckily, the field of public health has much to teach us on this topic.

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A Tool in Progress: The Sub-National Fragility Index

Checkpoint

Is it possible to build a fragility index that is truly useful as a tool for day-to-day development programming on the ground? That’s what we’re trying in Nigeria.

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Words Matter: Pastoralists and Identity in the Sahel

Checkpoint

It is broadly understood that language—especially generalizing and dehumanizing language—can play a central role in fostering communal violence. William Donohue has shown how the language of classification was a key early warning in the Rwandan genocide, for example. Such instances should remind the development community to be mindful of the wor…

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Will the Real Bad Guys Please Stand Up?

Checkpoint

A review of “Conflict, Violent Extremism and Development: New Challenges, New Responses” One of the most acute challenges of working in conflict zones is differentiating between “legitimate” conflict actors and extremist groups. In countries such as Libya and Syria, state collapse has led to a proliferation of armed groups and institutions—all c…

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Engaging Women in PVE Programming

Checkpoint

Recent research by DAI’s Enhancing Governance, Accountability, and Engagement (ENGAGE) project team in Mindanao demonstrates that while membership in violent extremist groups is overwhelmingly male, there is limited evidence to suggest that support for violent extremist ideologies differs fundamentally between the sexes.

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What To Do About Fake News? Ask Kenya

Checkpoint

So-called fake news is an issue du jour in Washington and beyond. While it has undoubtedly been hyped for political reasons, fake news is real, its dangers clear and present—especially in unstable environments. Even in the United States, the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and subsequent Comet Ping Pong shooting in Washington, D.C., in December 2016…

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Mopti: A New Front in the Struggle for Stability in West Africa

Checkpoint

Since the Bamako Agreement of 2015, the international security and development community has invested in significant stabilization programs for Northern Mali, and specifically the Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal regions. Northern Mali and its roughly 1.3 million people are more engaged and resilient as a result, but now “the center” of the country—home…

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Welcome to Checkpoint

Checkpoint

The social critic and author Christopher Hitchens wrote: “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Research, applied learning, and fierce debates about measuring success and failure, about embracing new ideas and technologies, and about adapting concepts and practices from both the development and national defens…

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Good, Timely, Affordable Research: Can We Hit the Trifecta?

Checkpoint

Anyone who has worked in transition or stabilization environments knows the value of good research. But good research tends to have two drawbacks that constrain its applicability for professionals working in unstable environments: it takes time and it’s expensive. Even the best research, if it comes too late, is of little use if you’re working i…

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Developments

DAI’s newsletter, offering feature articles, opinion pieces, and interviews on DAI projects and global development issues.

Developing Alternatives

A forum for our professional staff and guest authors to share their ideas in depth and address issues of enduring interest.

DAIdeas

A companion publication to our Developments newsletter, showcasing innovative thinking in capsule form.

[email protected]

DAI’s Digital for Development blog on what we’re learning in the rapidly emerging field of ICT4D.

CHECKPOINT

Checkpoint is the blog for the Center for Secure and Stable States—where development and national security intersect.