Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays an important role in development today. For Jorge Rodriguez, Quality Support Manager in the Civil Society, Local Authorities Unit at EuropeAid, online media provided the answer to communicating complex issues on decentralisation to colleagues working in the field.
Mr Rodriguez is in daily contact with the European Union Delegations, providing support via telephone and email on topics such as fiscal decentralisation. However, many colleagues lack a background in decentralisation and don’t have the time to read long technical documents.
Faced with the challenge of how to address the different needs of colleagues, Mr Rodriguez took inspiration from the Local Development Training Academy (LDTA) “The challenges that we deal with are the same: how to package knowledge and to prepare it in a very easy way to make it easily digestible for people who are very busy”.
Mr Rodriguez was already supporting colleagues through the organisation of seminars on decentralisation. These are “an opportunity to coproduce knowledge,” he explained, however, “the outcome of this knowledge stays within the walls and finally all the discussions are lost.” Therefore, during one such seminar in Quito, Ecuador, Mr Rodriguez filmed a series of short video interviews explaining decentralisation concepts.
The videos, posted on capacity4dev.eu, were a huge success, with many colleagues coming back to Mr Rodriguez to ask for more information. “Something new is happening”, he said “because people can watch the videos one, two, three times and this is a very easy way to give food for thought. People eat step by step, they digest and they ask for more”.
Today these have been organised into a Knowledge Map with almost 30 videos featuring seven experts explaining the following key areas of decentralisation:
- Decentralisation: what is it and why do it?
- Collaboration between Local Authorities & Civil Society
- Territorial Development
- Fiscal dimension
- Capacity Building
- The associations of Local Authorities
- Support Modalities
Colleagues working in situations with poor internet connection can download transcripts of all the videos. There are also accompanying documents for those looking for more information.
The library is continuing to grow. Next week Mr Rodriguez will travel to Mauritania for the next regional seminar and there he plans to film several new videos, which will be posted online in June.
EuropeAid is also collaborating with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) on another project to create knowledge maps on that will help to integrate local authorities in development.
Nicola Crosta, is the Head of Knowledge, Policy and Advocacy at United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). For him, ICT has been a key vector of development in the 21st century. He notes that, when observing the way people communicate, share knowledge or deliver services, it is clear that ICT is already playing a key role in many countries and “we think that it can play an even more important role in developing countries”.
“We all know how important it is but still there aren’t sufficient investments in ICTs in the least developed countries”. Comparing the 49 least developed countries (LDCs) with the list of the so-called least connected countries (LCCs), Mr. Crosta notes that there is a large overlap meaning that there is a strong correlation between development and use of technology.
Yet the question remains how to provide the least developed countries with access to ICT and then use this to bring knowledge to the local level? “There are at least two big challenges that we see”, explains Mr Crosta. “The first has to do with physical connectivity: you need to bring the internet, at the right speed, broadband if possible, at the local level”. The second challenge occurs once people are online: “how you can package knowledge in a way that is useful, that is accessible to them, especially if you’re talking about people that live in least developed countries, sometimes in rural areas”. The answer for Mr Crosta lies with the end user: “you really need to think about the end user of that knowledge, and how to make his life easier”.
Subsequently UNCDF and the European Commission are collaborating on a new project to create a knowledge platform that will capture the knowledge that is needed at the local level and make it available to development practitioners and governments 24/7 at zero cost. The first step will be to create a knowledge map where people can navigate through pre-selected knowledge that has been made available in an easy way. The second step will be to share this knowledge using infographics and media that will make the technical knowledge much more accessible.
The decentralisation videos can be found in the Public Sector Reform & Decentralisation group on capacity4dev.eu.
Use the links below to find out more information on the decentralisation seminars:
- Advanced seminar on decentralisation and local governance (July 2011)
- First regional seminar: Quito, Ecuador (June 2013)
- Second regional seminar: Kenya (November 2013)
- Third regional seminar: Mauritania (May 2014) [In French]
Jorge Rodriguez filmed his videos using the capacity4dev.eu field camera. If you are interested in borrowing this camera then please contact Gloria Jaconelli from the Coordination Team.