Messaging applications for international development
A research initiative from the Digital Impact Alliance and Echo Mobile
By 2018, 3.6 billion people were using mobile messaging applications – nearly half of humanity.
Nearly half of the world’s population uses one or more messaging applications, providing an opportunity to connect more people and allow innovative services to flourish. Increasingly, development organizations are seeing the value of using mobile messaging applications to reach both urban and rural populations across the globe. From Uzbekistan to Brazil, messaging applications are transforming how we communicate, connecting more people to one another.
In 2017, the Digital Impact Alliance commissioned Echo Mobile to examine how and to what effect international development organizations have used messaging apps, capturing lessons for development and technology practitioners. Those lessons are synthesized in our full messengers report and exemplified in the project summaries and case studies. From in-depth research into these cases, Echo identified four common use cases where messaging apps have been effective for international development, across borders and within different sectors.
Echo Mobile’s research focused on 14 organizations that have deployed messaging applications for development projects across different regions and sectors.
Echo Mobile and DIAL composed six detailed analyses of development and humanitarian initiatives that have utilized messaging applications. Based on in-depth interviews, each case explores the decision making and implementation processes and analyzes the results for lessons, focusing on accomplishments as well as unforeseen challenges and opportunities.
The report provides recommendations for using messaging apps in development projects—including project design and application selection.
The project catalog provides brief project summaries of the 14 organizations we reviewed, offering a better understanding of how messaging applications have been used in development.