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

Object 1 – 12 of 1222

Research for action

01.01.2027 - 31.12.2030

The 2017 Joint Monitoring Report, published in July, states that serious efforts have been made since the Millennium Development Goals to improve access to safe water and sanitation around the world. However, disparities remain, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and for the rural poor, more drastic for sanitation. This project aims to reduce this gap, by supporting applied research, transformative innovations, capacity development and networking, which will answer to the needs and requirements of the targeted population.


Nurturing Active and Responsible Citiziens

01.01.2027 - 31.12.2030

Molodova's democracy is still young and fragile. The population is disinclined to participate in decision-making, to practice democrtatic values and to demand their rights. Schools have an important role in educating active and responsive citizens, but are not well prepared for it. By improving democratic school governance and introducing practical civic education, Switzerland will support Moldova in raising civic consciousness of chlidren and adolescents, and engaging them in ther communities.


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.


Economic Policy for Inclusive Growth

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2029

The planned intervention aims at supporting inclusive growth that improves the living standards for the Mozambicans, in particular women and youth. It will be pursued through increased analytical capacity and better informed policy making, by means of focussed support to economic analysis and discussion in and between government and non-government institutions. Emphasis on non-government institutions will enhance the demand for and accountability for effective policy making for inclusive growth


Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) – “Making markets work to improve the consumption of nutritious and healthy food”

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2026

Poor-quality diets have become the number-one risk factor for ill health. The quality of people’s diets depends on food systems which shape the demand, availability, affordability, and desirability of safe, nutritious foods. By supporting the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a Swiss foundation, SDC aims at enabling small and medium size businesses in low- and middle-income countries to become accountable producers of safe nutritious products for all - women, children and vulnerable people alike. It will leverage the Swiss experience in collaboration between public and private actors.


Increasing access to patented medicines with the pharmaceutical sector

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2027

2 billion people worldwide do not have access to essential medicines. 50 of these medicines, e.g. for cancer or HIV are patented. The Medicines Patent Pool is a proven mechanism that negotiates with patent holders voluntary licenses for markets in low-income countries which are granted to multiple generic manufacturers. The competition drives down prices but ensures an attractive royalty for the patent holder. SDC supports this voluntary approach to make patented medicines available to people in these countries.


Global Measurement of Diet Quality

01.01.2025 - 31.12.2025

Diets are the number one risk factor in the global burden of disease and multiple forms of malnutrition co-exist with overweight and obesity being the fastest growing form, particularly among poor populations in developing countries. Routinely collected information on Diet Quality is necessary to better understand dietary trends, help to create awareness, and inform policies to improve diets and health outcomes. Therefore, SDC supports an international initiative to develop diet quality measurements.


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.


Program contribution to OHCHR for promotion and protection of human rights in the oPt

01.01.2025 - 31.12.2029

Switzerland supports the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to contribute to the effective realization of adherence to human rights and international humanitarian law in the oPt and to influence the behaviour of the relevant duty bearers. OHCHR has an exceptional role both in the humanitarian and development spheres in the oPt’s complex context of multiple duty bearers and harsh political and humanitarian realities.


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.

Object 1 – 12 of 1222