Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D)
Today people in the developing world have access to new, innovative, and affordable information and communications technology (ICT) that just a few years ago was non-existent or out of reach. CRS has been active in using these technological advances to manage and improve the quality of its services. By taking advantage of the rapid exchange of data and information that ICT allows, CRS has been able to adjust its programming to improve impact and scale programs to reach more people at a lower cost per person.
Because 64% of all mobile phone users are in the developing world, CRS has used cell phones as one of the main technologies to improve its programming. Some examples of how CRS uses cell phones include tracking plant pests and diseases, sharing crop production and marketing information, improving literacy, monitoring patient adherence to HIV and AIDS treatment, rapidly assessing needs during emergency response efforts, and providing distance learning opportunities to community workers on a scale not possible in the past. Mobile devices can also be used to collect data at the household level that can be analyzed in the field and used to provide basic services and information directly to beneficiaries.
For example, farmers can work with CRS field agents to determine their fertilizer needs using software calculators or to assess their current profitability and the gains likely if they adopt new technologies. Farmers in East Africa are using mini laptops to stay ahead of the cassava mosaic virus and the cassava brown streak virus. Agricultural producers can also directly access market information that enables them to attain better prices for their crops.
The video below describes two CRS projects that use cell phones for literacy education, reporting on maternal and infant health, and providing agricultural producers with up-to-date market prices.
To learn how CRS uses ICT to help orphans and vulnerable children in Tanzania, click here.