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.

How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Accentuating the Digital Divide in the United States

Digital

For those of us who work in digital development internationally, the pervasiveness of the global digital divide is constantly top of mind. The majority of our work requires us to understand the digital ecosystem in which we are operating to reach different segments of the population in a specific country. At home in the United States, COVID-19 a…

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Transforming In-Person Learning into Digital Collaboration

Digital

COVID-19 pushed people into their homes and brought to light the different options that exist to transform the way we learn from in-person settings to online classrooms. Although online learning is not new, the adoption of these learning platforms by the general population has been slow in comparison to the development of new technology-enabled …

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Local and National, Public and Private: Resilient Education Systems in the COVID-19 Era

Developments

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of global education systems, as many schools have temporarily ceased in-person instruction and left students with unequal, inconsistent access to learning opportunities at home. Traditional education provision may not be possible for the foreseeable future. This crisis—and the threat of potential …

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What Are Algorithms and How Are They Biased?

Digital

In the age of Big Tech and social media, the term algorithm gets thrown around a lot to describe the unseen mechanism that determines what people see on social media or the suggestions that they receive on Netflix. But what exactly is an algorithm? And can an algorithm be biased?

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Apply Now: Host USAID’s first-ever Digital Development Online Training

Digital

Within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Global Development Lab, the Center for Digital Development (CDD) addresses gaps in digital access and affordability and advances the use of technology and advanced data analysis in development. DAI’s Digital Frontiers project works closely with the CDD team to roll out and implement US…

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How Can Digital Financial Services be Utilised in Response to COVID-19?

Developments

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly disrupted the provision of financial services worldwide, with many regular practices now impossible. Consumer banks have closed as part of lockdown measures, and where banks are still operational, distancing measures have constrained services and diminished provider contact. Travel restrictions in many countr…

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Digital Innovator Series: Talking Equitable Access to Healthcare During COVID-19 Pandemic with Vanderbilt Pediatrics

Digital

We recently spoke with Shari Barkin, MD, MSHS, William K. Warren Foundation Chair in Medicine; Marian Wright Edelman Professor of Pediatrics; Director, Division of General Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, about how COVID-19 highlights issues around health equity and acts as a forcing mechanism for technology-driven innovation. T…

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How Knowledge Management Helps Make Remote Work, Work

Developments

COVID-19 has transformed the global workforce. Many organizations, including DAI, have transitioned to almost wholly remote working. And while collaborating across locations has always been necessary at DAI—we work in more than 100 countries—the scale of remote collaboration, with so many staff working from home, has never been this great.

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Staying Safe Online—Cyber Hygiene Skills Strengthen Resilience for Small Business, Even In Times of Crisis

Digital

As COVID-19 drives more people online for work, entertainment, and even connection to friends and family, digital and data security issues are increasingly important across the United States and around the world. However, citizen-focused digital and data security discussions are still in early stages in some countries, especially in Southeast As…

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Lessons from a School Teacher: 5 Tips for Effective Distance Learning

Digital

Since the world was catapulted into a socially distant new reality earlier this year, donor-funded development projects have been forced to re-envision what it means to transfer knowledge, build capacity, and implement training for staff, partners, and beneficiaries. As a result, DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration has experienced a swell in r…

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What are User Perceptions of Internet Trust and Privacy in India and Ghana?

Digital

It’s been a hard couple of years for the internet. Between election interference via social media platforms, disinformation going viral and facilitating genocides, and most recently, the rampant spread of a conspiracy theories that 5G internet broadband caused the COVID-19 pandemic, optimism in the internet’s force for good seems shaky at best. …

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Disinformation and Dating Apps—A Match Made in Heaven (But Swipe Left Though)

Digital

Somehow, we have made it to the halfway point of 2020. This year has been wild, to say the least—more than 500,000 people around the world have died due to COVID-19. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Riah Milton, Dominique Fells, Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau, and quite literally countless other members of the Black communit…

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How a Place-based Approach Built Climate Resilience in Indonesia

Developments

Indonesia knows climate and disaster risk: a vast archipelago of more than 18,000 islands and 230 million people, the country faces earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, drought, and rising sea level. Climate change is exacerbating these risks and compounding the vulnerabilities of the Indonesian people. As recently as 2019, for example, 11…

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How Technology Can Reflect Human Bias—And Resources to Understand It

Digital

With each technological advancement, more decisions in our daily lives are made by algorithms. They increasingly determine what advertisements we see, whether we’re considered for a job, or which books and movies are recommended to us—and how and where law enforcement is deployed in our communities. The ongoing protests to draw attention to, and…

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In Ethiopia, Keeping Land Rights on the Agenda Through the Pandemic

Developing Alternatives

During the COVID-19 health crisis, land might not appear to be an urgent issue. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the pandemic is more than a health emergency—it’s an economic and social emergency too, which threatens to worsen the economic outlook for many people who are already extremely vulnerable. We know those most at risk, in Ethi…

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It’s Getting Easier to Do Business in Nigeria: How DFID’s Award-Winning Policy Development Facility Supported Reform

Developments

Nigeria has Africa’s largest economy and population. But as recently as 2016, the country ranked near the bottom of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, which measures business regulations and their enforcement worldwide. Nigeria’s low ranking that year—169 out of 190 countries—reflected the difficulty businesses faced in dealing with …

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The Importance of Personal Digital Security

Digital

In the current climate of data collection and data harvesting by every website, company, government or official body that has access to your browser traffic, usage history, and location, your data is always at risk and vulnerable. To add to this, nothing is absolutely, unequivocally, 100 percent secure. Even air-gapped computers that have no con…

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How EuropeAid’s Pakistan BRACE Programme is Engaging Communities in the COVID-19 Era

Developments

At a time when social distancing and other restrictive measures are forcing almost all of our interactions to take place virtually, the European Union (EU)-funded Balochistan Rural Development and Community Empowerment (BRACE) programme in Pakistan is harvesting responsiveness from already established networks to stop the spread of COVID-19. The…

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USAID-Supported Enterprise in Ukraine Repairs Lung Ventilators for Use in COVID-19 Crisis

Developments

At the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic, Vasyl Mazurin, an entrepreneur from Druzhkivka in eastern Ukraine, approached city doctors with an offer to help repair equipment that could aid patients suffering with COVID-19. Medical staff took him up on the proposal and presented him with their old, non-functioning lung ventilators. “It was our …

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COVID-19 Data Analysis, Part 6: Insights from Forecasting COVID-19 Transmission Rates In Mexico with Google Mobility Data

Digital

This analysis is Part 6 of a series on COVID-19, with a specific focus on Mexico. The analysis will be updated as we receive additional data and the code for all related analysis will be made available shortly. For the past two months, COVID-19 has made its way beyond the borders of the United States and into other countries of the Americas, nam…

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COVID-19: Public Financial Management Solutions for the Immediate and Longer Term

Developments

Any effective government response to crises such as COVID-19 will rely on good public financial management (PFM). As the International Monetary Fund makes clear, PFM systems will play an important role in tackling the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic, which include estimating and finding the financial resources needed to confront the d…

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Here’s How We Push Ahead with Inclusive Education

Developments

Since discussions began around the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the global community has agreed that education is the right of every child, regardless of socio-economic status, religion, ability, culture, or geography. Yet even as the idea of inclusive education garners support, we struggle to move beyond talk to action. DAI hosted a pan…

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How Can We Support the Private Sector in Vulnerable and Developing Economies Following COVID-19?

Developments

While the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on developing countries continues to unfold, it seems clear that the public health response of lockdowns and business closures is having a profound effect on developing economies. In the face of dwindling revenue, private companies with limited working capital reserves are forced to lay off staff an…

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Curbing Irregular Migration: Shifting Focus from the American Dream to the Honduran Reality

Developments

Honduran parents often pull their young children out of school to accompany them on the perilous journey to the United States because of rumors suggesting that the presence of youngsters will ensure visas for families. Older students, seeking what they perceive as a safer or more prosperous future, drop out on their own to undertake the journey….

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This Week

Digital

Dear friends and colleagues: we had a lighthearted blog post ready to go this week, but in light of recent events, we’re sure it can wait. Instead, we’re using this time to pause and reflect about the killing of George Floyd and the years of structural racism and inequities that his story represents, both in the U.S. and across the countries whe…

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Corporate Sustainability and COVID-19: Three Signs of Hope for a Brighter Future

Developments

This article originally appeared in ImpactAlpha. It was written by DAI Board Member, Elizabeth Littlefield, formerly president and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corp., and current senior counselor and sustainability practice lead at Albright Stonebridge Group.

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Avoiding Credit Risk Contagion in Frontier and Emerging Economies

Developments

COVID-19 has hit economies around the world, with devastating effects on businesses. Businesses in frontier and emerging economies may face the worst debt crisis since the early 1980s. Since the advent of COVID-19, more than US$100 billion in capital has flowed out of these markets—three times as much as in the first two months of the 2008 globa…

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Transitioning a Supply Base from Offshore Oil and Gas to Marine Renewables

Developments

The past few decades have seen an intense effort to encourage investment in forward-looking renewable energy technologies, principally in onshore solar and wind generation. Over this time, a global supply chain that involves both large businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has emerged to service these onshore projects. More re…

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Q&A: A Conversation with Jenny Baker, DAI Global Health Senior Vice President

Developments

Jenny Baker was appointed to lead DAI’s Global Health business in March of this year. Given all that has happened in the health arena since then, it has taken us longer than usual to catch up with the incoming Senior Vice President. Here we get her perspective on health and development challenges in the era of COVID-19.

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USAID Local Governance Activity Supports Health Systems to Prevent Spread of COVID-19 in Honduras

Developments

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Honduras Local Governance Activity (HLG), is supporting the prevention and early detection of COVID-19 in 41 municipalities, 8 municipal associations, 18 nongovernment-managed health centers, 6 hospitals, 4 shelters for victims of gender-based violence, and 7 youth groups in this…

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Digital Collaboration: Recommendations from a Six-Week Veteran

Digital

Over the past few months, I have been reading article after article about how to run a successful virtual workshop, training, event, and so on, all of which provided useful advice. But, as I have run my fair share of virtual meetings these days, and because I am often described as “direct” by my peers and colleagues, I thought I would take a sta…

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“Now More than Ever”—Safeguarding in a Time of Crisis

Developments

Crisis or no crisis, gender-based violence—including sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment (SEAH)—takes place where there is a combination of opportunity, rationalisation, motivation, and power imbalance. But crises tend to exacerbate the inequalities that favour these conditions. Depending on the nature of the crisis, we may see different …

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What We Have Learned through Land Reform Implementation in Malawi

Developing Alternatives

In 2016, the Government of Malawi enacted a Customary Land Act (CLA), enabling smallholder farmers to convert their customary land rights to private land rights with registered title. Crucially, the CLA gives land holders increased tenure security, which in turn is hoped to lead to increased investment in land improvements.

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Castles Made of Sand: Digital Transformation From the Silicon Up

Digital

Silicon chips are literally black boxes to most of us. We understand that transistors are somehow etched in tiny patterns on these silicon wafers, and that these patterns make possible the computers, phones, and other electronic devices that run our modern world. Digital solutions are built on a foundation of silicon, and the landscape of silico…

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Digital Innovator Interview: Talking Financial Inclusion with MIX

Digital

We recently spoke with Nikhil Gehani, Director of Communications at MIX, a global data resource for socially responsible investors and businesses, about inclusive finance and what it means for low-income countries. This is an excerpt of that interview.

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How COVID-19 is Highlighting Inequality, and the Role for Social Protection

Developments

Alongside priorities of healthcare and slowing the rate of infection, almost all governments have identified a range of fiscal and monetary instruments to mitigate the economic impacts of the virus.

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Privacy: How COVID-19 Has Sped Up the Debate

Digital

As many countries struggle to manage the COVID-19 crisis, governments globally are looking to data-driven technologies to minimize cases or to help facilitate a transition out of lockdown. The technologies being claimed to protect, prevent, and track include symptom tracking apps that help us understand the disease, digital contact tracing apps …

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USAID Projects Assisting Small Firms Affected by COVID-19

Developments

Even the strongest economies are struggling to cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. China saw its first drop in gross domestic product since 1992 and Germany, Europe’s largest economy, could contract by up to 5.4 percent this year. While it’s too soon to predict how less developed countries will fare, all indicators point to s…

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5 Ways Entrepreneurship Ecosystems are Using Technology to Adapt to the COVID-19 Crisis

Digital

During this unprecedented global economic downturn caused by COVID-19, accelerators, incubators, and other entrepreneurship support organizations have a valuable role to play in helping entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in emerging and frontier markets. Over the past two months supporting the Shell LiveWIRE global entre…

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COVID-19 Data Analysis, Part 5: Different Models of Infection Rates in Mexico and What they Tell Us

Digital

The challenges of measuring the infection rates of COVID-19 are enormous for even the most prepared countries, given the need for testing to reach a significant enough amount of the population to accurately detect its spread. While the total number of recorded cases in the world thus far have mostly been in the United States, Europe, and East As…

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COVID-19 Data Analysis, Part 4: Forecasting Hospital Capacity in Mexico

Digital

This post was written by DAI Data Scientist Jamie Parr, with contributions from Greg Maly, Gratiana Fu, Eduardo González-Pier, Susan Scribner, and Kirsten Weeks. This analysis is Part 4 of a series on known risk factors associated with COVID-19, with a specific focus on Mexico. It is the first of several posts that will provide an analytical ove…

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In Somalia, Ensuring Social Protection During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Food Security Crisis

Developments

After many years of conflict, recurrent natural disasters, and humanitarian crisis, Somalia is highly susceptible to poverty and food insecurity, and its health indicators are among the worst in the world. Against this backdrop, the COVID-19 pandemic is a palpable threat to the country’s healthcare system, food security, and already fragile econ…

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COVID-19: Low-Cost Solutions to Maintain Engagement with Local Partners in the Supply Chain

Developments

Local content practitioners—particularly those working in the sustainability, contracts, procurement, and supply chain departments of large companies—face enormous pressure from two sides: on one side, the pressing need to reduce costs in light of cratering economic activity across the board, and particularly in the energy sector; on the other s…

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How Statistics Can Transform Governance: A Q&A with Economist and Statistician Jean-Paul Zoyem

Developments

Statistics are of paramount importance for governance. High-quality data inform policy making and the public debate: They help assess and design policies and hold governments accountable. However, as the World Bank reported in 2017, Africa’s statistical capacity lags behind most of the developed world. Absent adequate statistics, policy makers a…

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COVID-19: This Pandemic Offers a Lesson We Must Learn Before the Next

Developments

This blog originally appeared in Science Speaks. When the sickness and deaths subside, when ventilators and face masks are back in storerooms, when health workers don’t fear for their lives as they work, and when families and friends gather once again, what will be the lesson we have learned?

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Ethiopia Case Study: Can the Land Titling Process Mitigate Land-Related Violence Against Women and Vulnerable Groups?

Developing Alternatives

International development programmes can have far-reaching consequences, often into sectors or circumstances not immediately obvious or relevant to the programme itself. These knock-on effects can be especially fraught in the case of land, which has important cultural, economic, and social meaning to those who use it. When designing land registr…

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COVID-19 Demands New Thinking on Local Content in Oil, Gas, and Mining

Developments

In upending the supply chain world order, the pandemic will redefine how we source goods and labor Even in the throes of what is perhaps the most severe economic shock in a century, there is little doubt that the crisis will bequeath a “new world order” when it comes to supply chain management. For policy makers, corporate leaders, and supply ch…

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Transforming Social Protection: Taking a Gender Lens to Nepal’s Social Security Allowance

Developments

Nepal is in the midst of a demographic shift. Over the past three decades, its fertility rate has declined and population growth has stalled. The country has quickly moved from a high-mortality, high-fertility society to a low-mortality, low-fertility society. Although this shift is an encouraging indicator of development, the changing demograph…

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In Guatemala, New Research on Gender Equality Shapes Government and USAID Investments in Taxation

Developments

In the United States, widely available tools enable Americans to register and file taxes from home, and paying Uncle Sam has never been easier or cheaper. But in places such as Guatemala—where electronic governance is just now taking root and literacy, language, and gender present hurdles—the high burden of tax compliance can cause involuntary e…

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Strengthening Women’s Control Over Land: Inheritance Reform in Tunisia

Developing Alternatives

With a long record of progressive reforms stretching back to the Personal Status Code, adopted in 1957, one year after independence, Tunisia has a strong claim to be the most progressive Arab and perhaps even Muslim country in terms of women’s rights. Polygamy is illegal. There are strong laws against domestic violence. Tunisian women participat…

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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.