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.

Getting Started With RStudio, Part 1

Digital

This article is part 1 of 2, as we explore the basics of importing and analyzing data in RStudio. As a data scientist, I spend a lot of my time working in a programming language called R. RStudio is an open source integrated development environment (IDE) for the R programming language, which focuses on programming for statistical analysis. You c…

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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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ICT4D Conference: Unpacking the Complexities of Integrated Health Data and Data Ownership

Digital

“We are at an inflection point in digital development!” Lauren Woodman, CEO of NetHope, boomed over the crowd of 750-plus participants the first day of the recent ICT4D Conference in Lusaka, Zambia. It may indeed be a critical time for technology, but the means of reaching our collective goals can create healthy disagreements, ones that should b…

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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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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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A Do No Harm Framework for ICT4D: Inspiration from SwitchPoint 2018

Digital

SwitchPoint 2018 was an inspiring, passionate, and delightful indulgence: Spending two days in lush Saxapahaw, North Carolina, thinking about big ideas and learning from leading experts in small group sessions in between performance art and live music shows felt like such a departure from Conference As Usual. I felt space opening up in my brain …

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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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Digital Insights Malawi: Information and Communication in Rural Communities

Digital

Last month, I spent two weeks in Malawi trying to gain a real understanding of technology use and media consumption habits of people in rural and marginalised communities. Along with a team of enumerators, I spoke to 183 women, men, girls and boys (ages 14 to 80) in different traditional authorities (TAs) in Northern, Central and Southern Malawi…

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TicTec 2018: Key Takeaways from the Impacts of Civic Technology Conference

Digital

Last week I was at MySociety’s annual civic technology conference, TicTec, in Lisbon. For anyone who couldn’t make it I unfortunately can’t share all the takeaways, like the delicious Pastel de Nata, but here are a few treats for the mind.

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Forking a Live Tool with Design Thinking in Guatemala

Digital

This past February I was back in Guatemala, working with the fine people of Chiantla to improve and iterate Somos Chiantla. I was also in two new municipalities—Sacapulas and San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta—helping them create their own, personalized, forked versions of the app.

A participant in Sacapulas votes for the best ways to update Somos Chi…

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Writing Code is for Everyone—Now the Code Partners Scholarship Makes it Affordable

Digital

When someone needs a website or mobile app, they search for a coder. Almost anyone can be trained to write code and enter the digital workforce—once there, opportunities abound: from helping businesses, governments and other organizations build the websites and apps they need to supporting the digital systems that power economies worldwide.

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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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Blockchain for Development Part 2: Implementation Considerations

Digital

As discussed in Part 1 of this two-part post on blockchain, “Understanding the Tech,” the blockchain hype is pervasive in international development these days. It is my view that blockchain does not deserve the “Swiss army knife of new technology” label that has been thrust upon it. While blockchain is exciting and potentially very useful, appro…

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Ethiopia Stands Poised to Lead an African Industrial Revolution

Developments

Just over 100 years ago, Henry Ford and other industrialists revolutionised manufacturing by introducing the assembly line. They built consumer goods at unprecedented scale and cost, creating millions of jobs and bringing down the price of goods to levels that workers could afford. It was so productive that Ford could double the minimum wage and…

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Submit Your Session Ideas for ICTforAg 2018

Digital

As in previous years, DAI is co-sponsoring this year’s ICTforAg conference in Washington, D.C. The conference is on June 14 at FHI 360. The conference is now accepting submissions for lightning talks and breakout sessions here. The deadline for submission is April 13. Use the guiding questions below to shape your session ideas, and see you all i…

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Young Rural Women are Crucial to Advancing Universal Health Coverage in Northern Nigeria

Developments

This year’s World Health Day theme is Universal Health Coverage. It’s an apt rallying cry, particularly for those working in our Women for Health (W4H) programme in Northern Nigeria, where a 2013 study showed that 94 percent of live births lacked any medical personnel presence, resulting in one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

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Blockchain for Development Part 1: Understanding the Tech

Digital

Bitcoin has launched the term “blockchain” into the world’s tech vernacular. Unfortunately for blockchain as a technology and a theory, it is often, for better or worse, synonymized with Bitcoin. Because of this, the ideas of public, transparent, and unchangeable information immediately come to mind as soon as someone mentions blockchain. While …

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Putting Liberian Cities on the Map With OpenStreetMap

Digital

As the world becomes more urbanized, data on cities and the residents who inhabit them is key to building and governing sustainable communities. Yet this data is simply not available for many rural and urban areas around the world. Many cities lack base data sets—such as accurate maps of their cities that identify key infrastructure, services, a…

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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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$36 Million Investment Partnership Finances Warehouses in Malawi to Improve Food Security

Developments

Malawi has suffered from poor food production for decades—its 17 million people are mostly smallholder or subsistence farmers who have struggled to overcome drought, pests, and outdated farming practices. Even successful harvests are diminished because they have few options to process and store their crops for sale, resulting in post-harvest los…

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How a Pilot Project in Haiti Brings Optimism for Digitally Enabled Health System

Digital

I recently presented during a TechChange course titled “The Future of Digital Health.” I was asked to discuss the implementation of the Haiti Strategic Health Information System (HIS) program, a five-year, U.S. Agency for International Development-funded initiative that is consolidating and integrating Haiti’s disconnected health information ass…

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LTA Program Shows Benefit of Truly Participatory Approach

Developing Alternatives

The Feed the Future Land Tenure Assistance (LTA) activity—which has completed mapping of more than 36,000 land parcels in 26 villages with more than 27,000 Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy printed and registered—is a powerful example of how digital technology applied in a participatory process can enable rural people to strengthen t…

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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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How to Engage and Support Local Innovators: 3 Takeaways from the Digital Development Forum

Digital

On March 9, I moderated a workshop called “How to Engage and Support Local Innovators” at the USAID Digital Development Forum. I was joined by three expert panelists: Danielle Dhillon from the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) at the UN Foundation; Toni Eliasz from the World Bank’s Digital Entrepreneurship Program; and Tyler Radford from the Humani…

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Playing The Right Role In Haiti’s Growing Mobile Sector: 4 Key Principles

Digital

Digital financial services have been a robust part of the development sector for over a decade and their impact continues to grow. This blog post is part of a series produced by mStar that focuses on successful projects that achieve results-driven impact in people’s lives. This post was originally published on the mStar digital development blog….

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Getting ICT Into the Hands of More Women

Digital

March 8 is International Women’s Day! To celebrate, we’ll look at a course on women and ICT inclusion developed by USAID Digital Inclusion, mSTAR, and Panoply Digital. Click here to access the course.

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Mozambique: Even a Progressive Land Law Needs Revision After a Generation of Experience

Developing Alternatives

Mozambique is widely regarded as having a modern and progressive land tenure framework, following the enactment of the 1997 Land Law. However, in its implementation, the law has not always lived up to its promise. Twenty years of experience reveals a number of areas in which the legal framework would benefit from revision and better serve its pr…

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ICT for Citizen Engagement and Advocacy: Lessons Learned from Mozambique DIÁLOGO

Digital

The Mozambique Democratic Governance Programme, DIÁLOGO, funded by the U.K. Department for International Development, worked with citizens, civil society, local media, and municipal government to engage more effectively on local issues. DIÁLOGO supported innovative solutions, including mobile- and web-based technologies, to amplify the voices of…

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In Nigeria, Governance Champions Can Transform Resource Wealth into Development Results

Developments

Nigeria is well known for its glaring inequalities, particularly the disparity between the impoverished northern states and its oil-rich south. This disparity covers more than just wealth and economic growth, as large segments of the country’s 185 million people want for simple stability and basic public services. But just as Nigeria’s economy i…

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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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DFID’s Digital Strategy: What Does it Mean for DAI?

Digital

Last month, the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) launched its much-anticipated Digital Strategy 2018-2020: Doing Development in a Digital World, outlining its vision and approach towards using technology to have a bigger, faster, and more cost-effective impact on the lives of poor people—particularly those who are marginalised.

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Getting Past the Blockchain Hype Cycle

Digital

Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs), commonly referred to as blockchain applications, are possibly the most talked about innovation of the day. And the most commonly discussed DLT applications are those that involve financial transactions with cryptocurrencies. Fortune Magazine recently listed “The Fintech Renaissance” as the second-most impo…

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Why is DAI Investing in a Coding School?

Digital

DAI and Rockville, Maryland-based United Solutions recently launched a business called Code Partners to provide classroom instruction in software development. Code Partners will rely on the proven curriculum and teaching methods of Seattle-based Code Fellows, starting with beginner-level courses in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

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EC Helps Position the Southern Africa Development Community for 21st Century Success

Developments

Launched in 1992, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) was based more on ideals than economics. Born of the anti-Apartheid movement, the SADC aimed to help Southern Africa countries build economic ties and reduce dependence on the Republic of South Africa. As the region changed, the SADC’s membership grew and the organization adopted…

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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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New Zealand Aid Helps Rwandan Smallholders Enter Fortified Foods Supply Chain

Developments

Small-scale farmers in Rwanda struggle to capture the full value of their maize harvests. Farmers typically process their maize manually or using basic tools. With limited infrastructure available for threshing, cleaning, and drying, the full harvest and post-harvest process takes six weeks, on average. Apart from being burdensome for farm famil…

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Afghan Cities Assisted by USAID Project Achieve Highest Ratings in Citizen Survey

Developments

In a citizen assessment of government services in nine Afghan municipalities, the four that ranked the highest—Chaharikar, Hirat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Jalalabad—are all partners with a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project working to improve the capacity of Afghan municipal officials to meet citizen priorities and service deli…

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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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“S3” Site Selection System: A Data-Driven Decision-Making Tool for Effective Engagement

Digital

Recently while on assignment in Haiti, a project manager for a local agricultural development project asked my team why we weren’t targeting certain rural communities. According to him, those communities are the ones that could really benefit from the type of work we were doing. While we had good reason to work where we were working, the questio…

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Philippines’ New Tax Bill Promises More Revenue for Social Programs, Infrastructure

Developments

It has been more than 15 years since the Government of the Philippines undertook its last comprehensive tax policy reform. Over that period, tax revenues have seen a steady decline, from a high of nearly 17 percent of GDP in 1997 to only 13.6 percent in 2016. This decline can be attributed to both domestic and external factors. On the internatio…

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With Elections Looming, Can Pakistan Fulfill Its Education Promise to Unschooled Children?

Developments

More than 23 million children in Pakistan do not attend school. More than half of children who start at government schools drop out before completing primary school. These stark facts are harming a rising generation of Pakistanis already vulnerable to unemployment, instability, and extremism. And while upper-class Pakistanis enjoy excellent priv…

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Liberia Moves to Reduce Donor Dependence by Improving its Ability to Invest in Itself

Developments

Liberia has endured much turmoil in recent decades. Civil wars in the 1990s and 2000s saw the mass destruction of dams, bridges, power lines, and other infrastructure. Many of Liberia’s best and brightest citizens emigrated. Suffering from a large budget deficit, its government developed a deeper dependence on foreign aid. Furthermore, the…

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Women’s Land Rights and the Problem of Polygamy: A Proposal in Ethiopia

Developing Alternatives

Despite being illegal, polygamous marriage remains alive and well in Ethiopia, and that poses some obvious challenges when it comes to land rights. Statistics from 2011 reveal that 11 percent of married women in Ethiopia share a husband with one or two other wives. Polygamy affects women’s rights to property and income because it is unclear whos…

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Gathering the Evidence to Mobilize Domestic Resources for Health Care

Developments

Two key areas of development assistance have been merging quickly: health care and domestic resource mobilization. The goal is to help developing countries afford to invest in their national health systems and institutions and do so wisely. Many countries want to do more to fund their own development, and donors are on board to assist. But there…

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To Realize the Promise of Renewables, Address the Concerns of Local People

Developments

In 2009, in rural Pennsylvania, as head of the Renewable Energy Center, I attended a community meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers about a proposed wind farm in Ogletown, in Somerset County. I was told that previous meetings on the topic had been heated enough that a police presence was necessary—and welcomed.

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New Orangutan Species Discovered in Forest Supported by USAID Conservation Program

Developments

More than eight years ago, DAI staff tromped through the Batang Toru forest of North Sumatra, Indonesia, counting nests, observing behavior, and collecting field evidence on one of the oldest members of the great ape family—the orangutan. What they did not realize was that this group of orangutans was an entirely unrecognized species—the Tapanul…

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EU Funds Totaling €4.1 Billion Aim to Boost Investment, Private Sector Engagement in Africa and European Neighbourhood Countries

Developments

Nowhere do entrepreneurs and investors face more risk than in fragile states where jobs and economic growth are most needed. To mitigate this risk, the EU is launching the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), part of the External Investment Plan (EIP). The EFSD brings together €2.6 billion from the existing blended-finance operation…

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Q&A with DAI’s Susan Scribner: Preparedness, Response, and Global Health Security

Developments

Pandemics begin with a single case but don’t stay that way: since 2000, avian influenza has killed 440 people in 14 countries, Ebola more than 11,000 people in 10 countries, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) 770 people in 37 countries. The first deaths were reported locally in Hong Kong (1997), Guinea (2013), and China (2002), respect…

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Sourcing the Wadi: How Palestinian Workers Are Filling Niche Needs in Israel’s IT Sector

Developments

The Middle East hosts one of the fastest-growing high-tech industries in the world: Israel’s Silicon Wadi. But the very speed of this growth means Israel’s tech sector also faces a shortage of skilled engineers. To deal with this shortage, Israel has turned largely to Eastern Europe as a source for IT workers. Though there is plenty of talent in…

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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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Turning Restrictive Social Norms in the Middle East into Job Opportunities for Women

Developments

When deep-rooted social norms appear to limit the roles of women, one of the best tactics we can take in development assistance is to look for opportunities to turn those norms to women’s advantage.

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Helping Eastern Partnership Countries Meet Their Commitments to Address Climate Change

Developments

The economies of Eastern Europe have grown in recent decades largely on the backs of heavy industry, mechanisation, and agriculture. In many countries, this has led to significant greenhouse gas emissions, a reliance on inefficient technologies, and a policy environment that did not support green growth. As part of their commitments to global cl…

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Messe Frankfurt’s Purchase of Source Africa Trade Show Exemplifies the Potential of Market Systems Development

Developments

Seven years ago, DAI began implementing the value chain portion of Southern Africa Trade Hub (SATH), a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). SATH’s goal was to promote economic growth by fostering intraregional trade between select member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

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Q&A: Unlocking Inclusive Economic Growth for Mozambicans by Building a Market for Digital Financial Inclusion

Developments

While Mozambique’s economy is emerging—notably through the extractives sector—most Mozambicans remain very poor. Eighty percent still make a living from subsistence farming. One cause for their marginalization is that most have no connection to the wider economy or to basic financial services such as saving, borrowing, and electronic payments. T…

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More Than Developing Apps: USAID Program Propels Cambodian Girls Into Global Technology Finals

Developments

Women are far underrepresented in the tech world globally from bottom to top. The all-encompassing industry is looking into the mirror and seeing men and boys dominating technology jobs, classrooms, and expert panels, a bias now widely noticed.

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Q&A: Barry Finette on the Hopes and Challenges for THINKMD’s Life-Saving mHealth Platform

Developments

DAI and THINKMD connected in 2016 through DAI’s Innovation into Action Challenge. Our strategic partnership will leverage DAI’s international development network to bring THINKMD’s digital health products to new markets, while THINKMD’s technology will enhance DAI’s global health toolkit. As part of this partnership, DAI led THINKMD’s latest fin…

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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.