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.

Data, Analysis, and Information (Not as Boring as It Sounds)

Digital

If you aren’t excited by the headline—you should be! In this blog I will highlight a few issues I run across when discussing projects or planning data analytics solutions. Going into the details of each of them would take quite some time, so I will keep the anecdotes (data?) brief. There will undoubtedly be many interpretations of the data ->…

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Coming Soon: Global Digital Health Forum 2018 & ICT4Drinks

Digital

The Global Digital Health Forum—an annual meeting of health-focused government stakeholders, technologists, researchers, and donors from across the globe—is coming up December 10 through 11.

Three experts from DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration will be featured at five separate events, so come find us! Full list below:

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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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Powering Women’s Entrepreneurship in Cambodia

Digital

Meet Lida Loem. Lida is the co-founder of SHE Investments, a social enterprise that helps Cambodian women turn their entrepreneurship skills up to 11 (yes, out of 10) with training, mentorship and networking in both cities and rural regions of Cambodia. SHE’s vision is a world where investments in women in developing countries are seen as opport…

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Human-Centered Design for a Digital Farmer Business School Application: A One-Day Roadmap

Digital

Human-centered design (HCD) is a central focus of DAI’s. We’ve written extensively about how we work with our partners to follow this complex and time-consuming (but very important) process and even came up with a more concise, budget-friendly Lean HCD approach. As part of our continued commitment to the approach, Karim Bin-Humam and I recently …

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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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Meet the 9 WomenConnect Winners Who Are Using Tech for Good

Digital

Choosing just nine shining examples from more than 500 applicants of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded WomenConnect Challenge was no easy task. The global call—put out in March by Ivanka Trump and USAID Administrator Mark Green—sought examples of the changing ways in which women and girls’ access and use of technology …

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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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Digital Inclusion and a Trusted Internet

Digital

Back in 2014, when I was leading USAID’s Digital Inclusion Practice, I was invited by the U.S Department of State to present on the importance of information and communication technology (ICT) in driving economic growth. The cyber training was intended to equip foreign service officers with the knowledge and tools to represent the broad range of…

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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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Getting the Basics of ICT4D Right

Digital

There’s a tendency in any field of business (and life!) to focus on the newest, shiniest objects. Just like obsession over the release of the latest iPad, the ICT4D community holds a special place in its heart for the newest technology offerings. Machine learning, blockchain, and the internet of things (IoT) come to mind today, whereas in years …

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Financial Sector Deepening Mozambique: The Regulatory Sandbox Startups

Digital

All over the world, digital tools are creating opportunities for the those without bank accounts and expanding the array of financial services, known as fintech. The Financial Sector Deepening project is increasing financial inclusion in Mozambique. Mozambique is no exception—whilst literacy rates there are low, and the ICT infrastructure and re…

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Business Concepts from KIC’s 2018 Agritech Entrepreneurs

Digital

The award-winning Kosmos Innovation Center in Ghana has completed its final round of pitches for the 2018 cohort, and as with previous years, the program’s (very) early-stage young entrepreneurs continue to impress. Unlike previous years, the eight finalists this year were given six weeks and a small stipend to develop their minimum viable produ…

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Cyber Security Series Part 2: Understanding Cyber Security as Part of the Digital Development Conversation

Digital

In our first post in the 2018 Cyber Security Series, I discussed why cyber security should be a key consideration in the design of digital tools that help support sustainable development efforts. I highlighted that trust in digital tools should not be taken for granted, but rather constantly invested in by designing digital tools with user input…

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Fishing with Smartphones

Digital

Much has been written about the digital divide and the failure of ICT to meet the needs of the poorest users. As World Bank President Jim Kim says, “We must continue to connect all people so that no one is left behind … because the loss of opportunities has a very high cost.” In Central America, some of those ‘left behind’ include more than 135,…

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DFID and DAI Host Malawi’s First Digital Development Forum

Digital

Over the last few weeks, DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration has been working closely with the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID)’s Malawi office to conduct a digital scoping study of its portfolio. Building on some of the user research we’ve conducted in Malawi, we’re identifying areas where DFID can make small, focused inve…

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How Can Developing Countries 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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September 2018 ICT4D Happy Hour Roundup: Were You There?

Digital

Happy hours are the sinew of the ICT4D community: They are how we connect. For a few hours each month, we put aside the titles, affiliations, competition, and enjoy each other’s company over a few drinks. September was a particularly busy month on the ICT4D happy hour calendar, so let’s take a quick look back on what happened. Hopefully, you’ll …

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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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The Americas’ Effort to Integrate, Distribute, and Use Open Data to Make Decisions

Digital

I was happy to represent DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration at AmeriGEOSS week recently in Brazil, sharing experiences of how DAI has developed platforms and tools for decision-making in Central America.

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Kosmos Innovation Center wins 2018 P3 Impact Award

Digital

We’re so excited that the Kosmos Innovation Center—the Kosmos Energy-funded project DAI helps implement in Ghana—was announced the winner of the 2018 P3 Impact Award at the annual Concordia Summit in New York, that takes place alongside the United Nations General Assembly.

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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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Cyber Security Series Part 1: Trust is Why Cyber Security Matters to Digital Development

Digital

We’re launching one of our final series for 2018 on cyber security with this post on why it matters to international development. Stay tuned and subscribe to our newsletter if this topic interests you!

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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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Thinking About the User Part I: Design Considerations for Mobile Apps

Digital

Think back to the last time you used a mobile app(lication) with unwieldy menu placement, indecipherable icons, and inconvenient user-configurable options. These may seem like minor nuisances in the everyday life of app interaction, and frankly, most users probably never notice (or maybe don’t realize that they notice) or hardly care. But user e…

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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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Fortnite for International Development?

Digital

Fortnite—a free, online multiplayer video game—has amassed more than 125 million players worldwide during the mere 14 months since it debuted in July 2017. The game features a fast-paced, Hunger Games-inspired format mixed with community, celebrity, and story, and so far it’s working. Everyone from athletes to musicians are going public with the…

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August Roundup: Leapfrogging Technology, ICT4E in Conflict, and Facebook in Myanmar

Digital

Ah, the dog days of summer. Usually a slow time for work, that means there’s extra time to sit at your computer looking for good stuff to read, struggling with either being uncomfortably warm from the summer heat or excruciatingly cold from over-aggressive office air-conditioning. We get it. We got you. Fresh ICT4D reads from our August Roundup …

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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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5 Top Resources for Digital Access Data

Digital

The global community has recognized the importance of digital equality—affordable, universal internet access as one of the Sustainable Development Goals. When we are implementing digital programs, access and inclusion are key concerns: We don’t want to leave anyone behind.

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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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Liberia Launches Mobile Tax Payments, Opening Doors to Increased Revenue for Domestic Development

Developments

Imagine if you could pay taxes only by traveling to the capital and paying in person—or, by paying in cash at a tax office to a “middleman.” Until recently, this is how taxes were paid in Liberia. Additionally, due to failures by the internet, power supply, or information technology systems, taxpayers often required four trips on average to tax …

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Africa Trading: Five Takeaways on Trade-Based Solutions for Food Security

Developments

When we harness market forces in developing countries, great things can happen—such as countries with surplus food selling to countries that need food. Over the past 15 months, teams from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs together facilitated three regional trade forum…

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Global Health and Tech Thinkers Come Together at SwitchPoint

Developments

At SwitchPoint, a two-day conference organized by Intrahealth International—a DAI strategic affiliate—400 global health and technology devotees came together in the North Carolina countryside to share ideas and seed partnerships for solving global health challenges, especially by using technology. The seventh annual event, held April 26–27, feat…

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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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Four Recommendations for Strengthening Seed Systems

Developments

Most people living in rural communities in developing countries depend on crops. While donor-funded seed development programs for staple crops have improved the capacity of seed companies, as well as their market connections and distribution systems, high-quality seeds of improved varieties are simply not reaching enough smallholder farmers.

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New Generation of EC Framework Contracts Offers Agile Programming for European Development Aid

Developments

We are proud to announce that DAI has once again been named one of the main implementing partners for the European Commission (EC) 2018–2022 Frameworks contracts for international development assistance. The Frameworks represent an agile development programming tool that enables the EC to quickly source and execute short-term research and pilot …

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Addressing Jordan’s Youth Unemployment Bubble: USAID Program Aligns Workforce with Emerging Opportunities

Developments

Jordan is a relative bastion of stability in the Middle East but is struggling with an unemployment problem. More than 700,000 of its young people—36 percent of the available labor force ages 15–24—are without a job. This percentage is double that of Afghanistan and triple that of Bangladesh, even though those countries register poverty levels f…

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Can We Keep the Promise?Mobilizing Business on the Refugee Frontline in Jordan

Developments

In recent years, lower- and middle-income countries have borne the brunt of the global refugee crisis, currently hosting more than 80 percent of the world’s refugees. But some host countries, like Jordan, are taking important steps to seize what opportunities they can in this situation, supporting refugee self-reliance and at the same time boost…

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With U.K. Aid, Lebanon’s Social Enterprises Pilot a New Model of Development

Developments

The influx of refugees from across the Syrian border is straining Lebanon’s economy and host communities. Since 2011, Lebanon’s population has increased 30 percent to around 6 million as a result of this influx, and its young people are increasingly anxious to enter the workforce. Many even wish to start or join social enterprises to help addres…

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New DFID Guidance Aims to Improve Emergency Schooling for Millions of Displaced Children

Developments

An estimated 75 million children cannot go to school because they have been driven from their homes by war, crisis, and natural disaster. This deprivation in turn destabilizes vulnerable regions because uneducated children grow into at-risk teenagers and young adults.

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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.