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