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, [email protected] ) below—or visit individual publication sites for a full archive.

Building Digital Medical Records for Floating Villages in Cambodia

Digital

How do you digitize medical records in Cambodia when your clinics are on a lake, have minimal internet connectivity, and are four hours away from the nearest big city? Impossible, you say? Not quite. Let me introduce you to the Lake Clinic (TLC), a health clinic working to solve this complex challenge with the support of the six-year, Developmen…

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Making Sure Data Science For Good Does Good

Digital

Last week at the 74th U.N. General Assembly, the Rockefeller Foundation announced a $100 million Precision Public Health initiative to integrate data analytics and data science tools such as machine learning into the community health systems of low- and middle-income countries. During the announcement, Rockefeller noted the significant impact of…

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Digital Development for Newbies, Part 1: The Basics

Digital

I joined DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration (CDA) several months ago as an international development professional: familiar with ADS 302, Geo Code 937, Form AID 1420-17, among other industry acronyms, but a newcomer to the language of tech trends, digital buzzwords, and product design. I found the CDA team to be both inspiring and daunting, b…

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Safe Learning Spaces in Honduras Curb Undocumented Migration

Developments

It is no coincidence that the cities and neighborhoods in Honduras with the highest incidence of violence are also those with the highest migration rates. In the case of Choloma, for instance, the city’s homicide rate was 77 per 100,000 people in 2018—which is high even by the standards of cities such as Tegucigalpa, Tela, and La Ceiba, where cr…

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Applying the Principles for Digital Development in a Flourishing Digital Ecosystem

Digital

As a co-facilitator at a recent Feed the Future training on digital development for resilience and food security in Nairobi, I was struck by the stark contrast between the short amount of time (a scant four years) I’ve been settling debts with friends on Venmo and the participants’ resounding “we’ve been using it forever” response when I asked h…

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Finding Meaning in the J2SR Metrics

Developing Alternatives

How can national-level indicators be best used to inform the debate around a given country’s development challenges? It’s a question many of us are asking following the release of the Journey to Self-Reliance (J2SR) Primary Metrics—17 cross-country metrics that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has established to measure a co…

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Confidence Not Competence: What Holds Women Back from Embracing Tech in Development

Digital

Throughout my life, I’ve heard women grumble about using technology—from my mom, from friends in school, and from work colleagues—yet these are highly educated, often extremely logical thinkers that excel at, well, Excel! The irony of the situation has been troubling me in the past few months. Why? Because there is a clear contrast in attention …

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Lessons from Cambodia: How to Grow a Girls’ Tech Entrepreneurship Challenge in Six Years

Digital

How do you get Cambodian girls engaged in addressing the digital gender divide? This is a question that the six-year Development Innovations (DI) project has been wrestling with since it was launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development—and that DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration (CDA) and DI have regularly chronicled on their blogs.

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Can the Development Community Adopt Agile?

Developments

In “The Age of Agile,” Steve Denning argues that agile management is superior to traditional, hierarchical management styles. Companies that adopt agile outperform the rest, and will continue to do so. Agile is catching on, and not only in the software development sector that popularized it.

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Lessons from the Makerspace Community in High-Income Countries

Digital

Makerspaces—akin to coworking spaces with tools such as 3D printers and computer numerical control (CNC) mills as well as more traditional woodworking and metalworking items—offer participants access to equipment traditionally the domain of specialists or well-funded firms. Along with the proliferation of independent makerspaces starting in the …

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Visualizing Remotely Sensed Data: True Color and False Color

Digital

What kind of images do you think of when you imagine Google Maps of our planet? Landmarks? Roads? Roads on top of satellite imagery? When we see that satellite imagery base map, we generally expect to see a representation of the earth that matches our reality. This is what we call in the world of remote sensing, “natural color.” For the average …

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Supporting a Human-Centered Home Health System in Jordan

Developments

Jordan’s healthcare system is considered one of the more modern in the Middle East, and many patients travel from neighboring countries to access its medical offerings. However, Jordan struggles with rising healthcare costs, an aging population with a changing disease burden, and meeting high demand from around the region. Expanding home healthc…

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Center for Digital Acceleration Partners with Award-Winning Tech Startup Skilllab

Digital

One of the ways DAI tackles global challenges is by partnering with other innovators to invest in promising solutions. In joining forces with tech startups that align with our mission, we bring the power of technology and entrepreneurship to bear on global development challenges. In 2016, for example, we supported four startups through our ‘Inno…

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All Systems Go: USAID’s Private Sector-Led Approach Pays Dividends in Bangladesh

Developments

The Southern Delta of Bangladesh is home to 28 million people, many of whom struggle with food insecurity. Despite the presence of high-tech agriculture companies and a huge farming industry, the region’s agriculture sector is not working for everyone.

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Q&A: DAI Global Health’s Chris LeGrand on the Launch of His New Book

Developments

Chris LeGrand is the President of DAI Global Health. His new book, The Complete Business Leader, published in August, lays out a framework for business leadership, drawing on 30 years of experience in health, development, and technology consulting. LeGrand guides the reader through seven dimensions of leadership—individual wisdom, relationship m…

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Navigating Barriers to Digital Inclusion

Digital

When I first began learning about digital development, I thought of it as a new frontier that could push international development out of its modus operandi. New digital tools could provide individuals, communities, governments, and organizations with new sources of information at rapid speeds—enabling new means of collaboration to propel develo…

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Understanding Cybersecurity for Healthcare Professionals

Digital

We live in exciting times. The ways in which we store and engage with health data have been transformed with the creation and adoption of digital health technology. Whether it’s using a Fitbit, accessing your vaccine records online, or virtually connecting with your doctor, understanding your health status in real time has never been easier… for…

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Through the Looking Glass: The Many Ways to Invest in Greater Gender Equity

Developments

“Where shall I begin,” asked the White Rabbit. “Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”—from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland We often hear the same question when it comes to gender-lens or gender-smart investing. Businesses and investors have varying levels of knowle…

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Nine Lessons Learned: The Not-So-Simple Task of Obtaining Land Rights

Developing Alternatives

The promise of land rights in developing countries goes something like this: Once an individual has secured land and property rights, he or she is more empowered and more able to participate in the economic growth of his or her community. Add in the multiplier effect and voila—a developing country begins to move toward economic growth and stabil…

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New USAID Guide: How to Create Digital ID for Inclusive Development

Digital

Access the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s new Guide to Creating Digital ID for Inclusive Development. Identity is deeply personal. Issues of identity are complex and tied up with power, privacy, and protection. Yet identifying constituents is often critical to organizing and managing global development projects. Decades of d…

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Cybersecurity Lessons from Ukraine

Digital

Read this blog in Ukrainian. When you walk into a room full of government officials, civil society organizations, and private companies discussing cybersecurity, you expect to hear disagreement. The exact opposite happened during the recent DAI- SocialBoost Cybersecurity Roundtable and Workshop in Kyiv, Ukraine. The event started with a panel di…

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Карти, гроші, VPN: кібербезпекові реалії в Україні

Digital

Read this blog in English. Cупротив та неузгодженість — напевне, той асоціативний ряд, який спадає на думку, коли уявляємо, що в одній кімнаті мають зустрітися державні управлінці, громадський сектор та представники бізнесу для обговорення тонкощів кібербезпеки. Проте, на Cyber Security Day - серії подій, які команда SocialBoost нещодавно органі…

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Hot Enough for You? Four Steps to Help the World Keep Its Cool

Developments

Four people died in the recent heat wave in the Washington, D.C., area, and 4,600 people lost power. The combination suggests that access to electricity and air conditioning (AC) will not allow us to avoid the consequences of global warming. Climate change will result in higher peak temperatures and an increased number of days over 100 degrees.

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Ushering in 21st Century Agricultural Growth to Northern Afghanistan

Developments

Drought and conflict in recent decades sent Afghanistan’s wheat production into sharp decline. Irrigation systems and farm equipment fell into disrepair and farmers were forced to abandon their land. In a country where bread is a substantive part of the rural diet, the decline of its fundamental farm crop resulted in lost livelihoods and stabili…

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Using a Market Systems Approach to Curb Human Trafficking and Irregular Migration in Nigeria

Developments

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, a global scourge where people are illegally traded for exploitation and commercial gain. Globally, more than $150 billion is generated from forced economic exploitation of people for commercial sex, domestic work, or other economic activities. In July 2018, the Global Slavery Index reported that…

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Digital Gender Divide: Latifa Yari's Story

Digital

Let me introduce you to Latifa Yari, a 24-year-old student who will graduate from the Niger Higher School of Telecommunications (E.S.T.) this year with a degree in computer science. In 2018, Latifa won the Miss Geek Africa* competition with an app called Saro (“security” in Hausa) that connects emergency response services to citizens who have be…

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Facebook’s Libra Currency: A Digital Development Perspective

Digital

When Facebook announced its first foray into the digital financial space with its new digital currency Libra last month, the digital development community collectively sighed and Twitter lit up with both praise and concern. While it’s easy to get out the pitchforks for something like this—and in many ways rational, given how Facebook was manipul…

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LIFT: Ensuring Women and Vulnerable Groups Reap Full Benefits of Land Certification in Ethiopia

Developing Alternatives

In rural Ethiopia, land represents dignity and identity. More concretely, holding a certified land title means better prospects for economic independence, stable income, and bargaining power. When it comes to receiving legal recognition as landholders, women and members of other vulnerable, systemically disenfranchised groups have the most to ga…

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Mobile Technologies Push Latin America Forward

Digital

Esta entrada también está disponible en Español. The digital ecosystem in Latin America is pushing countries to accelerate public-private collaboration on digital transformation. At the recent GSMA Mobile 360 LATAM conference, we heard a lot about how 5G networks will bring about a technological, economic, and social revolution around the world….

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Open Source Versus Proprietary Data Management Stack—Which One is Best for Your Team?

Digital

As a product development team, we spend a lot of time listening to the needs of users, particularly when it comes to their desire to collect and analyze data. And while projects have unique needs, they often ask for a common set of technology solutions. These include the ability to:

Digitally collect and manage data - offline or online as mobi…

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Las Tecnologías Móviles Empujan a América Latina Hacia Adelante

Digital

This blog is also available in English. El ecosistema digital en la región de América Latina está presionando a los países para acelerar la colaboración público-privada en la transformación digital. En la conferencia Mobile 360 LATAM de GSMA, escuchamos constantemente cómo se espera que las redes 5G traigan una revolución tecnológica, económica …

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Power Beyond the Prize

Digital

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently hosted a convening between two sets of challenge prize winners: Feed the Future’s, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Fall Armyworm Tech Prize finalists and the Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE)’s Tools and Technologies for Broad-Scale Pest and Disease Surveillance of…

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EU Investment Guarantees Begin to Deliver on the Promise of Development Finance

Developments

The first risk-sharing finance facility under the €3.7 billion European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) recently opened in Jordan, marking a milestone in the European Union (EU)’s plan to spark investment in some of the world’s most investment-starved markets.

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Improving Safety Net Programmes to Include Those Most Vulnerable to Climate Change

Developments

Tanzania’s population of 60 million is projected to double by 2050. As with many low-income countries, Tanzania’s livelihoods and food supply largely depend on livestock and rain-fed agriculture and fisheries. The climate supporting these conditions is projected to change through the 2050s with warmer temperatures, longer droughts and heat waves…

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In Guatemala, Assisting Municipalities to Improve Governance, Services, and Self-Reliance

Developments

Communities in Guatemala’s Western Highlands have struggled for decades under persistent exclusion. This exclusion has limited local governments’ capacity to serve residents and caused over-reliance on central government funds. Many of this region’s 2.3 million residents have lacked for food security and public services such as water and sanitat…

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Hard-Fought Wins Reaffirm the Value of Working with Palestine’s Private Sector

Developments

Businesses in the West Bank and Gaza for decades have overcome political instability, regional violence, and economic blockades, maintaining a resilient focus on commerce.

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Mark Your Calendar, It’s May 21

Developments

Every year on this day, May 21, the United Nations celebrates what it calls the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. “Cultural diversity,” says the UN, “is a driving force of development, not only with respect to economic growth, but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritu…

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Lebanon’s Cornucopia: Value Chain Project Unleashes Potential of 10 Sectors

Developments

Six years ago, a DAI-led team went to Lebanon to learn everything there is to know about the country’s apples, avocados, cherries, grapes, honey, olive oil, processed foods, oregano, pine nuts, and rural tourism sectors. They recorded their findings—from identifying existing and new potential target markets, how many farmers grow the produce, wh…

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Building a Bridge to the New Era of USAID Assistance

Developments

In 2004, and for the first time, more money flowed into developing countries through direct investment, philanthropy, and remittances than through official development assistance. That trend has only accelerated in the years since.

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Partnering for Social Good: What’s in It for (All of) Us?

Developments

Half the world’s 7 billion people lack access to essential health services. That’s a terrible number, and yet an enormous market opportunity. The kind of opportunity that might pique the interest of mobile tech entrepreneurs who note that while many of these underserved people lack healthcare, they nonetheless tend to have mobile phones and some…

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Hold the Charcoal: Diverting Sub-Saharan Africa’s Demand for a Destructive Energy Source

Developments

Charcoal and other solid biomass fuels are still used in 70 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa, killing more than 4 million people annually and depleting forests, in turn reducing rainfall and contributing to climate change and other impacts. Luckily, it is not too late for Sub-Saharan Africa to avert a charcoal-induced public health and environmenta…

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DAI Global Health Partner THINKMD Embarks on New Projects in Kenya and Indonesia with Save the Children

Developments

In July 2017, following three years of development and validation testing, THINKMD implemented its frontline clinical assessment and data analytics technology in Bangladesh with Save the Children. We focused our work on the Rayer Bazar settlement in Dhaka, an overpopulated informal settlement where maternal and child mortality and morbidity are …

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Getting Creative with Transportation for El Salvador’s Young Job-Seekers

Developments

An estimated 80 percent of El Salvador’s formal jobs are concentrated in greater San Salvador, according to the USAID Bridges to Employment labor market assessment. Yet close to two-thirds of the Salvadoran population lives outside of that metropolitan area.

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In El Salvador, Outsourcing Remote Programming Jobs to Youth Outside the Capital

Developments

Jobs in computer programming can help level the playing field for talented young people. While being young is often a disadvantage in other industries, youthfulness is an advantage in the technology sector where youth are digitally savvy and have an aptitude for new technologies. Working remotely on IT projects allows greater flexibility for wor…

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In El Salvador, Shifting Employer Perceptions While Getting Youth Work-Ready

Developments

It’s not easy being a young job-seeker when adults tend to stereotype millennials as unreliable or entitled. El Salvador is no exception. In a 2017 opinion poll of 2,000 individuals (ages 16 to 60) conducted by the USAID Bridges to Employment project across 15 high-crime municipalities, most respondents said poor work ethic and lack of motivatio…

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Three Ways to Make Hiring More Inclusive of Vulnerable Youth: Lessons from El Salvador

Developments

Salvadorans have a reputation as entrepreneurial, hard-working, and committed. In fact, El Salvador was ranked first on employee engagement among Latin American countries in Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report. At the same time, too many young Salvadorans do not get an opportunity to work hard in their first job and demonstrate their t…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.