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.

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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Information Liberation: What is Open Data, and Why Does it Matter?

Digital

Less than two weeks ago, on April 21, 2020, Microsoft announced its support for the growing open data movement through the launch of an “Open Data Campaign.” Having recently spent several days researching successful open data initiatives, the statement caught my attention. The World Bank uses the Open Knowledge Foundation’s definition for open d…

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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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Everything Old is New Again: Remembering the Lessons of Early ICT4D in the COVID-19 Era

Digital

Often in the early days of digital development, it felt like there was a small group of big, innovative brains in one room all working on similar visions of how best to leverage the growing presence of the iconic Nokia 3310 across the developing world. Frontline SMS, Ushahidi, Souktel, and other groups were leading the charge from various corner…

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New RFA Calls for Innovative Solutions to Advance Digital Skills for Small Firms

Digital

Everyone is talking about digital transformation—especially now that digital processes and tools are a mandatory part of daily activities for most businesses, schools, and citizens across the world in response to the global COVID-19 outbreak. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and DAI have been working to enhance digital skill…

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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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COVID-19 Data Analysis, Part 3: Rethinking the Global Health Security Index

Digital

The next installment in our COVID-19 analysis series connects the dots between the datasets we have explored in our previous posts and brings in a new dataset that came to our attention over the past couple of weeks. In this paper, we look at the relationship between country scores from the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)’s Global Health Securit…

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Approaching Digital Behavior Change Communications in the COVID-19 Era

Digital

While tackling the spread of the COVID-19 disease takes a multi-faceted approach, behavior change—especially around personal and respiratory hygiene, proper handwashing, social distancing, and so on—remains a critical need across countries where DAI and our clients operate. Further, as organizations and individuals increasingly embrace digital-b…

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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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Promoting Resilient Ecosystems: How Cambodians are Adapting in the Face of COVID-19

Digital

Five years in Cambodia leading the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Development Innovations project taught me a lot about innovation. I saw innovators employ entrepreneurial thinking to develop out-of-the-box, creative solutions to problems, helping hundreds of thousands of Cambodians—automated phone calls warning people …

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COVID-19 Data Analysis, Part 2: Health Capacity and Preparedness

Digital

This article was written by DAI’s Jamie Parr, with contributions from Greg Maly and Gratiana Fu. This analysis is Part 2 of a series on known risk factors associated with COVID-19. We aim to use publicly available data sets to identify national and subnational populations most at risk for infection and case fatality. The analysis will be updated…

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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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Plan C: How Makerspaces are Providing a Stopgap for COVID-19 Supply Shortages

Digital

One of the participants in the Think Global Make Local product development workshop, sponsored by our Cambodia Development Innovations project in 2016, created a design for a toy called Doy Doy. With Doy Doy’s silicone straws and plastic connectors, kids can build complex structures. The product has gone on to achieve modest commercial success l…

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The Importance of Understanding Digital Divides During the COVID-19 Response

Digital

Our work at DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration intersects with global COVID-19 responses in many ways. Earlier this week, our data scientists presented an analysis of risk factors and last week we got a glimpse at the hardware community’s approach to the crisis. There is another element to our work that I think is critical to highlight—digita…

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COVID-19 Data Analysis, Part 1: Demography, Behavior, and Environment

Digital

This article was written by DAI’s Gratiana Fu, with contributions from Greg Maly, and Jamie Parr. This analysis is Part 1 of a series on known risk factors associated with COVID-19. We aim to use publicly available data sets to identify national and subnational populations most at risk for infection and case fatality. The analysis will be update…

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COVID-19: Looking for Helpers in the Hardware Community

Digital

As the COVID-19 pandemic makes its way across the globe, and even well-resourced health systems struggle with the availability of critical supplies needed to treat patients, initiatives have emerged in the hardware community looking to help solve the shortage of physical supplies.

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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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Unlocking the Value of Digital Transformation in the Social Sector

Digital

For many years, the support of international donors to civil society organizations and private and public sectors in the technology field revolved around the provision of equipment, hardware, and software. On many occasions, these types of support have proved ineffective. As researchers wrote in 2013, these investments quickly became obsolete or…

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Closing the Gender Digital Divide: What We’re Doing to Bring Women Online

Digital

Digital technologies are revolutionizing the way we access information, financing, and networks—all critical tools for fully participating in the global economy. Yet, these technologies, most notably internet connectivity and mobile phones, are not reaching all people equally. In recognition of International Women’s Day, we are looking at one of…

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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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The Complexity of Building a Market for Certified Seeds: A Case Study from Mozambique

Developing Alternatives

Innovations for Agribusiness (InovAgro) is the first market systems development project in Mozambique. Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and active in 11 districts in three northern provinces, the project—a private sector-led agriculture growth initiative that partners with companies seeking to engage with smallhol…

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Restoring Trust: Toward a People-Centric Security Sector in The Gambia

Developments

It’s hard to imagine that The Gambia emerged only recently from 22 years of authoritarian rule: first impressions are of a vibrant and happy nation. Surrounded by Senegal to the north, east, and south, The Gambia is known as the “smiling coast of Africa” because Gambians are said to possess a knack for putting people at ease. Now three years int…

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Extending Education Access to Vulnerable Young Salvadorans

Developments

“From better health to increased wealth, education is the catalyst of a better future for millions of children, youth, and adults. No country has ever climbed the socioeconomic development ladder without steady investments in education.”—Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO An effective education system is one of the most critical contributo…

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It’s Not Too Late to Prepare for COVID-19

Developments

A disease spillover event, when a virus moves from animal to human hosts, can cause significant human illness. The coronavirus (COVID-19) seems to have spilled over sometime in late 2019, at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, leading to more than 40,000 confirmed cases and at least 910 reported deaths by the latest count—in China and at least 25…

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Blended Finance Case Study: Gaza Industrial Estate Solar Energy Rooftop

Developments

The Gaza Industrial Estate was built to accommodate 100 industrial and commercial businesses and 5,000 workers, providing water, electricity, sewage, and so on. It has consistently operated at half capacity, in part because of a failure to maintain power. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, the sole electricity distributor in Gaza, faces …

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Blended Finance Tools Offer a New Approach to an Old Problem

Developments

If the world were represented by 10 people in a room, seven would be of working age and six would have jobs. In Palestine, six people would be of working age and only three would have jobs. If the room were only women and girls in Palestine, only one woman in the room would have a job outside the home. Decent work is one of the Sustainable Devel…

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Q&A: Ehat Miftaraj, Anti-Corruption Expert, on the Prospect for Rule-of-Law Reform in Kosovo

Developments

A relatively young nation, Kosovo has implemented significant reforms in its justice sector, including in legislative drafting, institution building, and the training of justice sector personnel. But according to the European Commission’s Kosovo Progress Report of 2018, most Kosovars still see the judiciary in Kosovo as compromised by corruption…

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Social Protection in Somalia Can Bridge Short- and Long-Term Solutions

Developments

DAI has been working in the fragile country of Somalia since 2017 to foster a government-owned social protection system that is underpinned by donor coherence, leadership, and coordination capacities. There is an established consensus that humanitarian relief and development programming need to better coordinate and reinforce each other’s impact…

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New Research Offers Alternatives for Frontier Market Venture Capital and Private Equity

Developments

In many emerging countries, the capital markets are nascent and borrowing by government and state-owned enterprises crowds out private entities and disincentivizes banks from lending to the real economy. The funding gap is enormous. The IFC estimates that nearly 30 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face an aggregate funding gap o…

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Adopting a Private Sector-led Approach to Advance Digital Startups in Cambodia

Developments

Years of working side-by-side with Cambodians in the civic technology sector taught us many things about the country’s startup scene. Its denizens are smart and passionate about their work. Many have their finger on the pulse of what communities want and need. So, what’s missing? Why aren’t there more internationally known Cambodian tech firms a…

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To Go Where We’re Going, We Need to Meet Investors Where They Live

Developments

We recently attended SOCAP19, the impact investing conference held in San Francisco every October since 2008. Like many development professionals, we’re sold on the idea of engaging the private sector and catalyzing private investment in high-impact development opportunities. But we still struggle with how best to leverage our expertise, instrum…

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Investing in the Underdogs: Boosting Local Leadership in Burma

Developments

One of the best ways to ensure a nascent democracy remains stable and becomes increasingly responsive to its people’s needs, according to the U.S. Integrated Country Strategy, is to invest “across a wider spectrum of society” to identify and cultivate leaders who will drive progress.

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Paving the Way for Green Energy Financing in the Mediterranean

Developments

In the face of a gathering climate crisis, “The world must quickly implement massive energy efficiency and conservation practices,” declared more than 11,000 climate scientists in a statement issued November 5. Their warning lends added urgency to a program that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has been running for mor…

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Investments in Off-Grid Energy Businesses Are Bringing Electricity to Hundreds of Thousands in Kenya

Developments

On New Year’s Eve, 1879, approximately 3,000 people traveled to Menlo Park, New Jersey, to witness an extraordinary sight: an entire street lit by electric lamps. Only three months after prototyping what would become his most well-known invention, Thomas Edison introduced his light bulb to the public by illuminating his laboratory and a neighbor…

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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.