Harnessing the Value of the Digital Principles for Inclusive Development

Last week, the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), the Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) and the Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) together presented on inclusive digital development at the Bond Conference in London– Europe’s largest annual international development event.

Eliguard Dawson describes how the DOT FUSION program was guided by Design With User and Understand the Existing Ecosystem Principles.

Eliguard Dawson, DOT Tanzania’s Country Director, was the keynote speaker for the session, showcasing what the Principles for Digital Development, a set of living guidelines intended to help practitioners succeed in applying digital technologies to development programs, look like in practice. Dawson described how two of the Principles – “Design With User” and “Understand the Existing Ecosystem” – guided the development of DOT’s FUSION program; a digital skills and entrepreneurship program for Tanzanian youth.

While majority of participants were not aware of the Principles for Digital Development prior to the session, a few stated that the guidelines made sense of their challenges and were in some ways “almost second nature” in their programming. After learning about available resources, all the attendees were eager to see quantitative data on the success of the Digital Principles to understand outcomes of adopting the framework.

On the heels of the Bond Conference, DIAL headed to Tanzania’s fifth annual Innovation Week. It was incredible to observe how the Principles were similarly received in another context.

Innovation Week is a series of events in Dar es Salaam curated by HDIF[, where digital development practitioners from all over the world come to Tanzania to attend over 63 sessions and share innovation insights in their field with colleagues across multiple sectors. With over six thousand attendees participating throughout the week, this year’s was the biggest Tanzania has seen yet!

“Innovation Week is not about robots or drones, but doing something different to make things better.”

Jane Miller, DFID

“Innovation Week is not about robots or drones,” said Jane Miller of DFID during Monday’s opening ceremony, “but doing something different to make things better.”

With this spirit, DIAL joined the list of event partners to explore the central theme of Scaling and Sustainability. On Tuesday, March 26, DIAL partnered with HDIF for the second time in two weeks to host Digital Principles 101 Training Daya day-long workshop which featured the Digital Principles team’s new digital curriculum aimed to support development practitioners’ awareness, understanding, and application of best digital development practices.

Local digital development experts, Faraja Kotto Nylandu and Diana Ninsiima, co-facilitated Digital Principles 101 Training Day during Innovation Week 2019 in Dar es Salaam.

Faraja Kotta Nyalandu, Founder and Executive Director of Shule Direct , and Diana Ninsiima, Senior Program Manager and Gender Lead at DOT, co-facilitated the session, kicking off the day with an overview of the Principles before leading the group through interactive games and activities designed to support them in applying the Principles in their work. Over 25 participants from a wide breadth of sectors – from health, government, legal, among others, spent the day learning about the Principles themselves, networking and collaborating, while sharing their own experiences in their field.

“Most people came today not knowing about the Principles,” said Faraja. “But they were a dynamic group – they grasped the knowledge. When they gave their own examples, they saw how they were already applying the Principles – they just didn’t know that or have a name for it. Now they can become more deliberate and conscious when applying it in their work.”

This was the first time the Digital Principles 101 Guide has been facilitated by individuals outside of the DIAL or TechChange team and was a great example of how the guide is meant to be accessible to anyone and adapted to any audience.

“The workshop helped create relevance as we put them in our own context,” added Diana. “As of today, the Principles community in Tanzania has grown. It’s no longer only the case study of DOT; the people who attended are ready to commit to the Principles journey, take precedent and share stories and adapt.”

The Digital Principles Facilitators Guide [is available for download, free of charge, on the Digital Principles website.