Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs): An enabling tool for international cooperation

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are transforming the way governments, business and individuals learn, work and communicate with each other. If they are employed strategically within development programmes to promote access and sharing of relevant knowledge as well as fostering participation of the poor and marginalised in decision- making processes that affect their lives, ICTs help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

SDC focus

The focus of SDC from 2001 to 2008 was to support international mainstreaming efforts of ICTs in development processes, e.g. through supporting a series of targeted publications, thematic roundtables and particularly through strengthening to the development perspective and the multi-stakeholder process in the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS). In addition to a direct support to the WSIS process and the promotion of the active participation of Civil Society Organisations from the South and the East therein, SDC has directly participated in and supported a whole range of organisations and networks active in the area of ICT4D (see below).

Support for most of these organisations was phased out between 2008 and 2010. The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) is responsible for Switzerland’s commitments in this area, in collaboration with the ECOSOC Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The SDC is currently focusing on the integration of ICTs in its own projects and programmes (as a strategic instrument).

Background

ICTs encompass a full range of increasingly converging technologies, including traditional and emerging devices such as interactive community radios, television, mobile phones, computer and network hardware and software, the Internet, satellite systems, and podcasting. The effective use of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) is not just a question of infrastructure and software. It also requires an appropriate institutional and regulatory framework and the development of human capacity and relevant content. Holistic and contextualised implementation of ICTs is complex as it depends considerably on the sector or theme in which they are employed as well as the overall socio-economic context (access and affordability of infrastructure, human capacity, cultural habits). Thus ICTs should not be seen as a panacea for all development problems but rather an important tool to be applied as part of a broader strategy for sustainable development.

ICTs can be employed fulfilling three partly overlapping functions:

  • Access: Using ICTs to facilitate access to and sharing of timely and relevant information and knowledge.
  • Voice and Communication: Using ICTs to strengthen the voice of poor, excluded and disadvantaged people in decision-making and self-expression of their culture.
  • Networking: Using ICTs for networking and human communication while fostering multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve effects on a larger scale (up-scaling).

The transformative potential of ICTs as a tool can be particularly harnessed to

  • increase efficiency: reaching more people while reducing transaction costs.
  • increase effectiveness: in terms of process, ownership, participation, networking and improvement of governance and better delivery of basic services such as education agricultural extension, microfinance and health.
  • improve innovation and productivity: for example for micro, small and medium enterprises through better access to information, credit, markets and procurement using ICT tools in management, marketing and distribution channels.

Links

Documents

Connecting people for a better world
Are information and communication technologies (ICT) such as computers, TV or mobile phones effective instruments to empower people, reduce poverty and improve lives? This book offers new answers to these questions.
Publication ICT4D – Connecting people for a better world (PDF, 2.1 MB)

Up-scaling pro-poor ICT-policies and practices
a review of experience with emphasis on low income countries in Asia and Africa
[en] (PDF, 1.9 MB, English)

Building Bridges across Time and Space – Experience and Success of a Telemedicine Pilot Project in Mongolia
Asia Brief - May 2013
[en] (PDF, 4 Pages, 413.9 kB, English)

Information and Communication Technologies and large-scale poverty reduction - SDC/Panos 2005
Lessons from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Edited by Kitty Warnock and Ravi Wickremasinghe in cooperation with John McGill and Gerolf Weigel. Published by Panos London.
[en] (PDF, 799.0 kB, English)

ICTs and Education – Public-Private Partnership to connect Schools to the Net
A National Model in Switzerland - Summary of the Final Report
[en] (PDF, 11 Pages, 1.7 MB, English)

Deepening Participation and Improving Aid Effectiveness through Media and ICTs
A Practical Manual Translating Lessons Learned into Daily Practice – SDC Working Paper
[en] (PDF, 25 Pages, 632.2 kB, English)

Un seul monde
No 4/03 - Société de l'information
[fr] (PDF, 1.5 MB, French)

Chennai Statement - on Up-scaling Pro-Poor ICT Policies
[en] (PDF, 6 Pages, 143.3 kB, English)

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Poverty Reduction?
Discussion Paper - World Summit on Information Society WSIS 2003
[en] (PDF, 71 Pages, 759.0 kB, English)

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Poverty Reduction
in Sub Saharan Africa - A learning Study (Synthesis)
[en] (PDF, 454.3 kB, English)

Current projects

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Bangladesh Agricultural and Disaster Insurance Programme

01.01.2027 - 31.12.2028

Farmers will improve their productivity and resilience by gaining access to client-oriented and affordable agricultural insurance products. Insurance-cover will allow farmers to invest in higher-return activities, access credit and to recover faster when affected by weather, diseases and disasters. By building capacity of and facilitating coordination and linkages among key stakeholders, inclusive insurance markets will be developed to eventually cater for several million farmers.


Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership to achieve a water-secure world for all

01.07.2026 - 31.12.2030

The Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) of the World Bank Water Global Practice is a global partnership with the objective to address the water and sanitation challenge in an integrated manner, as set out by the Global Sustainable Development Goal 6. This SDC support will promote innovative global knowledge production and exchange, dialogue and partnerships, as well as country-level support across regions at global scale.


UN-Water: Strengthening the Global Water Architecture for the effective achievement of the 2030 Agenda

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2030

UN-Water has now firmly established itself as a major actor in water and in coordinating UN agencies to speak as one voice for water. SDC’s support to UN-Water’s core budget is crucial to ensure that the political ambition of the 2030 Agenda for water and its related targets has an efficient institutional setting allowing an integrated monitoring and an efficient follow-up and review and strong coordination between UN agencies. UN-Water will be key to bring a more effective, integrated and coordinated approach to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda with regards to water and sanitation and to review progress.


Contribution au programme santé de mediCuba-Suiza (mCS)

01.09.2025 - 31.08.2027

Après plusieurs années de soutien sporadiques, la coopération suisse propose de renouveler un soutien programme à l’association suisse mediCuba-Suiza (mCS). Cette dernière collabore avec plusieurs institutions publiques de premier plan, et favorise les échanges techniques entre professionnels de la santé en leur permettant un accès aux technologies et méthodes de traitement modernes. mCS  contribue ainsi à la couverture universelle des services de santé.


Strengthening regional cooperation on migration in the Western Balkans

01.06.2025 - 31.12.2027

In light of diversifying migration patterns and challenges with increasing regional dimensions, the migration policy priorities of Western Balkan governments are changing and the relevance of regional dialogue, coordination and cooperation is growing. This proposal seeks to promote coherent and effective regional governance of migration in all its multifaceted dimensions contributing to greater social cohesion and regional integration in the Western Balkans.


UN Joint Programme on Youth Employment

01.01.2025 - 31.12.2028

Cambodia is the most youthful country in South East Asia with more than 50% of the population below 25 years. The key challenge of Cambodia is to create decent and productive employment opportunities for new entrants to the labour market. With its contribution, SDC addresses the challenge by enabling young people to have access to skills and quality education and employment whilst promoting rightful and decent working conditions.


Horn of Africa: One Health Units for Humans, Environment, Animals and Livelihoods

01.09.2024 - 30.06.2032

The project aims at improving the well-being of targeted pastoral communities challenged with inadequate access to basic health/veterinary services and environmental conditions in Somalia, Ethiopia and Northern Kenya through integrated health service delivery for both pastoralists and their livestock. The project will contribute to stability and vulnerability’s reduction of citizens in the region, thereby reducing their displacement/migration which is in the interest of Switzerland and the international community.


Solar Irrigation for Agriculture Resilience (SoLAR)

01.07.2024 - 31.07.2027

To adapt to climate change farmers rely increasingly on irrigation, ultimately depleting groundwater resources and raising energy demand. The project aims to address these challenges by promoting solar irrigation, water efficient agriculture and groundwater governance. The project will harness Swiss expertise on hydrogeology and technical innovations to contribute to climate resilient agriculture and facilitate knowledge sharing in South Asia and at the global level.


Swiss Malaria Group

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2025

Founded in 2007 as an informal network, the Swiss Malaria Group (SMG) has undergone organisational development leading to a formalized multi-stakeholder group with a strategic focus on raising awareness about malaria and the comparative advantage of Switzerland to defeat the disease. Organised as an association, with an Executive Secretariat hosted by Medicus Mundi Switzerland, the 15 organisations help accelerating malaria elimination, through innovative control measures, knowledge and financial flows.


Supporting Civil Society Organizations in Nicaragua

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

SDC and other like-minded donors are engaged in enhancing the democratic and public policy processes in Nicaragua. A strong civil society is essential to the quality and sustainability of this effort. The proposed program will promote citizen participation, strengthen capacities of Civil Society Organizations and foster informed policy dialogue. 


Adaptation to Climate Change in Mountains

01.12.2023 - 30.09.2027

Mountain ecosystems and societies are particularly sensitive to climate change. Targeted adaptation measures are essential to increase the resilience of livelihoods and ecosystems in mountains. The programme will harness Swiss expertise and generate information on climate change impacts and related adaptation strategies in mountains and feed them into regional science-policy platforms and global policy frameworks for adaptation planning in mountains.


Clean Air Project in India (CAP India)

01.10.2023 - 30.06.2027

India is one of the most severely affected countries by air pollution in the world. This project will contribute to India’s new National Clean Air Programme, with the aim to improve air quality with co-benefits on public health, environment and climate change. Capacity building and technical assistance through Swiss expertise will support data measurement and analysis, city level clean air action plans and awareness raising campaigns to take precautionary measures and mitigate air pollution.

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