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Messaging Applications for Development

In 2017, the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) commissioned Echo Mobile to examine how and to what effect international development organizations have used messaging apps, capturing lessons for development and technology practitioners.

The lessons are synthesized in this paper 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:

  1. One-to-One Matching of People With Resources
  2. Group Peer-to-Peer Learning and Behavior Change
  3. Information Broadcast
  4. Crowdsourced Reporting and Feedback

For all of these use cases, Echo found that the following considerations are essential for successful project design when deploying messaging apps for development:

  1. Go where the people’s attention is.
  2. Focus on user needs over implementer needs.
  3. Engage more users with multiple channels.
  4. Prioritize communications content and personnel.
  5. Partner for scale and technical expertise.