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DfID to harness digital for international aid

25/01/18

Strategy document says technology can make the development system more effective and accountable

The Department for International Development (DfID) has emphasised the importance of digital technology in future aid programmes, with plans that include common principles and standards and an increased use of data.

It has published a new digital strategy that makes clear it has to use technology to get value for money and give people in developing countries the chance to develop sustainable economies.

Penny MourdantWriting in the document’s foreword, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt (pictured) says: “The new strategy will ensure that our approach to development adapts and keeps pace with technological innovation and change. We will use the latest digital technology to push the development system to become more effective, transparent and accountable – enabling us to follow the money, the people and the outcomes.

“Britain leads the world in humanitarian response; digital technology helps us focus our aid where the need is greatest. Satellite data is helping us to trigger digitally enabled payments before the worse effects of drought are felt by those who are most vulnerable, providing life-saving support.”

Strategic principles

Among the core principles of the strategy is the need to identify and embed good practice in using digital solutions in aid programmes, the adoption of common principles and standards for digital develop, and ensuring that more digital products and services reach poor people. Affordable and secure internet access in developing countries is also identified as a priority.

Specific plans include identifying and developing digital solutions that could be scaled up and replicated to reach large numbers of people; setting up digital develop partnerships with international donors to build internet access; serving as an anchor partner on the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data; and providing technical assistance to governments in developing countries.

The desired outcomes in the document include mainstreaming the use of digital tech; making its staff intelligent digital customers so they can commission and manage programmes effectively; and sharing good practice in the field.

Along with these, DfID points to its plans for internal changes in line with the Government Transformation Strategy by redesigning services around user needs, using common platforms and technologies to collaborate with other bodies, and making better use of data. It says this should lead to better decision-making in its programme and improve transparency and public engagement.

The priorities include continuing the migration of services to the cloud, building up the department’s cyber security capability, and ensuring services meet the Government’s Technology Code of Practice and Digital Service Standard.

Image from Russell Watkins/DFID, Open Government Licence v3.0

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