Using ICTs for development

This list highlights key resources for building capacity within NGOs to creatively and effectively use information and communication technologies (ICTs). The resources will be useful for people who want to use electronic communication methods for knowledge management, documentation, facilitating discussions or networks, promoting an organisation or project, or distributing publications. The resources give practical and strategic guidance on using websites, email, databases and online discussions.

The research for this list was carried out by Healthlink Worldwide for the project Enhancing HIV/AIDS Communication in Africa. Please send any comments or additions to

Selected resources

Developing an online community

Building online communities

MORROW, Katherine

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Whether the goal is an online meeting or the creation of a global network, the resources listed here aim to help groups: choose the appropriate collaboration tools, develop facilitation techniques, and plan a strategy for successfully working together online

Change at hand : web 2.0 for development

et al
June 2009

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There are dozens of emerging interactive web services and applications, sometimes referred to as the ‘participatory’, ‘social’ or ‘readwrite’ web, but more commonly known as Web 2.0. Together, they are radically changing the ways we create, share, collaborate and publish digital information through the Internet. These new technical opportunities bring challenges as well as opportunities that we need to understand and grasp. Most of the themed articles are based on presentations made at the the international Web2forDev conference, 25-27 September 2007 at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy

eforums on HIV and TB : a toolkit for launching, moderating and managing a high quality eforum

KISTLER, Elizabeth
et al

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This toolkit aims to provide organisations working in health and development with tools to launch, moderate and manage high-quality eForums that provide a safe space for civil society focused information sharing, networking and dialogue. It has the potential to be applied to a range of health and development issues. It is intended for international, regional and national civil society organisations recognising the power of information and the significance of a transparent, broad-based communication mechanism that enhances civil society responses to HIV and TB

Facilitating a community of practice


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Training guide on how to facilitate an online discussion. Guidance on facilitation, moderating a discussion, writing e-mail messages, encouraging participation and setting up a Yahoo group

From workplace to workspace : using email lists to work together

JAMES, Maureen

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A straightforward and easy-to-follow guide to help people decide how to set up a mailing list for their group, launch it and keep it active. Divided into three parts, it covers, 'Getting set up', 'Working together', and 'Resources'. Available full-text on the IDRC website in French, Spanish and English

Developing content for electronic media

Reporting on HIV/AIDS


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Online training module on HIV and AIDS journalism with a selection of supplementary materials. Covers two areas: communication skills and finding and evaluating HIV and AIDS information on the internet. Includes signposting to HIV/AIDS-related mailing lists, websites and reports

Case studies and context

Improving health, fighting poverty : the role of information and communication technology (ICT)

July 2001

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Argues that communication, not technology, should be the central concern of ICT activities. Points out that strong health systems and other basic services are essential for effective use of ICTs. Establishes that local ownership, participation and content improve the relevance of ICT activities, in conjunction with increased capacity to access, organise, repackage and use information effectively. ICTs should complement other communication work and be integrated into broader programmes

Information and communications technology : web sites, CD-ROMs, and on-line educational projects hold promise for youth|[Tecnología de información y comunicación. Sitios web, CD-ROM y proyectos educacionales en la web prometedores para los jóvenes]

BLOOME, Anthony
ZWICKER, Caroline
FINGER, William
September 2003

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Technology resources increasingly link professionals working with reproductive health and HIV prevention programmes in developing countries. These same resources (websites, CD-ROMS, listservs, radio and TV) offer great promise for reaching the youth as well. This edition of Youth Lens looks at some of the projects working in these areas

The digital pulse : the current and future applications of information and communication technologies for developmental health priorities

FEEK, Warren

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Analyses the hopes and realities of using information and communication technologies (ICTs) in health and development programmes. Includes a Top 10 of strategic issues and gaps, and an overview of ICT for development (ICT4D). Sixty case studies document programme experiences of using ICTs in four areas: database and resource centres; social development, education and advocacy; networking and dialogue; and telemedicine and high medical tools. Recommendations include: prioritise local content and the voice of local people; integrate ICTs with other communication technologies and methods; engage with overall ICT trends like internet cafes and mobile phones; pay attention to structural issues like pricing, access and controls; take advantage of the interactive elements of ICTs to create a space for dialogue; evaluate the impact of ICTs on health; acknowledge the improvements to health when there is more equitable access to information and knowledge through the new technologies; incorporate ICTs into ongoing programmes; and support the vital role of intermediaries

Using ICTs to generate development content

October 2002

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This report examines how information can be packaged and communicated so that it reflects the context of the reciever. It stresses that communication and information provision is a process like any other in development, and ICTs should be seen as tools to improve livelihoods, and not an end in and of themselves. It reviews recent research on the types of information demanded by communities, and emphasises the importance of visual content for including non- and semi-literate people. The paper outlines then key elements required in any planned content production, especially by NGOs or governments. A final comment is made on intellectual property rights (IPR)

Virtual change : indicators for assessing the impact of ICTs in development

FEEK, Warren

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New ways of working and approaches to technology have led communication for development specialists to re-examine the social embeddedness of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and how we assess their impact. The earliest discourse on ICTs for development focused on the issue of access and capacity building (and latterly content) However, in some areas the ICT revolution served only to widen existing economic and social gaps prompting communication for development specialists and others to argue that that if the opportunities offered by ICTs are to be realised, poor people must be active determinants of the process, not just passive onlookers or consumers. Access and use of ICTs are relevant therefore to the degree that they enable people to participate in and influence society

Setting up a website

Getting a web site - introduction


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Focuses on the steps to go through when planning a website, starting with the key question: why do you want a website? Includes questions to think through, such as whether to make the website yourself or get a web developer, how to plan your content and organise information, how to choose design software and come up with a visual design, and how to test and maintain a website. Also looks at possible staff roles and responsibilites in a web team

Web resources for NGOs and nonprofits


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Overview of issues, list of resources and questions to guide developing country users through the initial technical requirements of setting up a website. Links to resources on website hosting and web design software

Managing electronic documents

Information management for development organisations


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The book is about managing information in the workplace rather than in a resource centre or library. It is aimed at managers of community groups and non-governmental organisations in developing countries and elsewhere. It aims to help them to think critically about what kinds of information they, their staff, and their project partners need. It discusses how they can access such information, manage it, and communicate it in the most effective and equitable way. It includes some practical tools and exercises to help readers to relate the ideas to their own situations. In this second edition, discussions of knowledge management, capacity building, institutional learning, evaluation and impact assessment, research, information products, and evidence-based work have been added, or considerably extended, together with a number of new case studies

Managing electronic communication

Introduction to project management

JONES, Martin
June 2003

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This guide provides an introduction to the techniques of project management. It includes advice on working with technical suppliers such as web designers or database suppliers. It looks at the basic principles and available tools and provides some templates and procedures for implementing project management methods. The guide emphasises how project management can work in a voluntary sector setting with particular reference to managing funding applications. The guide was developed for people working on information technology projects in the UK’s voluntary sector but offers grounded guidance to anyone who is managing a small or medium sized project. (If you are using a modem to download the guide it may take 2 to 3 minutes)

Multimedia training kit


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The multimedia toolkit aims to promote and support linkages between new and traditional media for development through a structured set of materials. The materials are based on a standard set of templates, and are intended to be used as building blocks from which trainers can build up training workshops appropriate for their own contexts. New materials will be added to this ItrainOnline section as they are developed; the materials currently available are just a starting point. Eventually the MMTK will offer a comprehensive suite of training materials covering technical, content, organizational and ethical topics

Time to get online : steps to success on the Internet


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Guide to help African civil society organisations to get online and integrate the Internet into their organisations. Five chapters cover: Connecting to the Internet; Accessing Information Resources; Interacting Online; Establishing and Maintaining a Web Site; Next Steps - Integrating the Internet into Your Organization. Also includes a glossary of Internet terms and a list of further resources. Available to download free as PDF file or can be ordered in print with an accompanying CD-ROM for the cost of postage and packing.

Download the materials by writing to African civil society organizations can download the materials at no cost.

Using electronic communication to strengthen HIV/AIDS work

LEE, Sarah
November 2003

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Describes the various forms that electronic communications (also called information and communication technologies - ICTs) can have (for example email, databases, CD-ROMs etc) and their uses (advocacy, networking, discussions, fundraising). Lists the advantages and disadvantages of electronic communications, and includes a list of resources, articles and reports around ICTs and development

Open source software

Open source is on the map


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Practical introduction to open source software with links to free software for word processing, databases, web browsing and email and an introduction to open source operating systems. Written for the UK voluntary sector, but good information for any organisation that wants to find out more about free and open source software

Straight from the source : perspectives from the African free and open source software movement

May 2004

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This essay is drawn from the proceedings of AfricaSource, a workshop that brought together free and open source software (FOSS) developers from across Africa. Participants shared technical skills and experiences, discussed key challenges in realising FOSS projects, and developed concrete strategies for strengthening the nascent community of FOSS technologists working in African contexts. The workshop offered a mixture of structured discussions and hands-on work with an emphasis on practical and intense knowledge exchange. This essay carefully and sensitively summarises the views of the AfricaSource participants on the obstacles facing the FOSS community in Africa. A dialogue on the topic may help to catalyse changes that will reduce or eliminate barriers to free and open source software development in Africa

Using the Internet for research

Using the Internet to share research and knowledge


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Overview of using websites and email to communicate research findings. Recommends using e-mail to build one-to-one dialogue rather than to send out press releases or other mass mailings. Sees the strength of websites as providing a public space for publications and databases



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"Yenza" - which means "do it" in isiXhosa and isiZulu - is a guide to using the Internet for research and teaching in the social sciences and humanities. Offers practical 'how to' information and links to useful resources on using the Internet for research, integrating the Internet into teaching, and how to build your own website. The information on this site should help both the novice researcher and the more experienced researcher to find and develop online resources. The site can be used independently by researchers, although it was primarily developed to complement face-to-face workshops. The section, Yenza! For trainers, contains resources for people wanting to run workshops using the site, and the entire Yenza! site can be downloaded in compressed form for running offline