Field Trip

Tea in Erbil

I'm currently in Erbil, Iraq in the Kurdistan region, doing an assessment of an upcoming project with the Iraqi Parliament.

It's hot.

The NDItech team travels a good deal for this kind of assessment. When one of NDI's regional teams is going to be running a program that has a significant technology component, we'll get involved to make sure that the best technology given the local conditions is put into place and implemented well.

There are a lot of questions to consider when getting a technology and development project up and running.

  • What are the goals for the program, and does technology really help achieve them?
  • What is the tech infrastructure on the ground?Is there electricity? How many hours a day?  Is there Internet? How fast?
  • How technically proficient are the people who will be using the system? Are they online 24/7 or are have they never used a computer before?
  • What's the long-term sustainability strategy? What is required to make sure the system keeps running long after NDI's program ends?
  • Are there local tech firms with whom we can partner to develop or support the system?

Some of these are questions that can be answered remotely; we spend a lot of time on conference calls or skype video chats with teams in the field. However, there's nothing like sitting eye-to-eye with all the different players who will be involved in making a program a success. Sometimes a well-thought out plan will end up being completely wrong when when we see what the actual facts on the ground are.

Doesn't appear to be the case this time - but there's still a few meetings to go.