Design-reality gap: development projects and ICT

I'm constantly baffled and bewildered by the gap that exists between what I read on the Internet about ICT4D, and the reality that I meet on the ground. I long to help bridge the gap between academics and practitioners. I was therefore delighted to discover a student exploring the topic, and saddened, but not surprised at his difficulties. He wrote:

I'm currently writing my thesis in the field of ICT4D, it's actually about design-reality gap issues of development projects related to implication of ICT.
Since even my professors are not really into this topic, I would like to share some ideas, thoughts etc.

I would love to share some ideas and thoughts too, and wonder if we can collaborate in some way.

For a start I'm publishing below some information I'm working on. It's a bit long for a blog - but I want to share it with him, and this seems the best way to do it.

Where we are - and what we do there.

Dadamac Foundation has always been placed equally in three, very different, kinds of locations - and that is our unique strength. 

Our locations are:

  1. In Africa
    • Where projects happen in response to local need, and are led by local people who have strong connections with the UK.
    • Our work began in two locations in Nigeria, but it is now more wide-reaching and includes locations in other African countries.
  2. In the UK
    • Where the African projects are supported in various ways.
    • Our UK "home" is in  London, so we can attend relevant London events. There we act as the eyes, ears, and voices of our grass-roots projects. We learn about issues that concern us - but which are being seen from a wider perspective. This helps to make Dadamac Foundation an oganisation which is both local is its actions and global in its thinking. 
  3.  On the Internet - in "the cloud".
    • Where people from Dadamac can "meet" and work together despite the distances that separate us, and the limitations of low bandwidth.
    • We collaborate on projects and also share information from our various locations and perspectives. Our true shared "home" is on the Internet. It is there that we learn from each other. We are also able to connect with people in other parts of the world who share our concerns and values.
  • By combining our work in Africa, UK and in "the cIoud".
    • We bring together local and global perpectives. 
    • We share what we are doing in our practical work. We reflect on challenges, successes and failures. We explore various ways of doing things regarding education, welfare and development. We are discovering how the Internet and mobile phones change how we can work together. We are developing shared widsom. We are finding out what works, and sharing what we learn as widely as we can.

Dadamac Foundation is a UK registered charity (number 1104228).

Our roots

Dadamac Foundation grew from a project which began in 2004 and involved John Dada (Director of Fantsuam Foundation in Nigeria) and me (Pamela McLean, based in the UK but doing "working holidays" in Nigeria).

This first collaborative project required effective two-way communication. Much of our work had to be done via the Internet, despite many practical difficulties (mainly due to infrastructure problems in Nigeria). In addition to the core group, in Nigeria and UK, the project included an online support goup scattered across the globe. The lessons of that project led to our current approach and to the emergence of Dadamac Foundation.

It's across the world - anyone can be involved

The work of Dadamac Foundation, with its ongoing UK-Africa connections, could never have happened without the Internet, and it is also thanks to the Internet that people can be involved in our work whether on not they live in our key locations in Africa or the UK.

There are opportunities for people to get involved on many levels and in various ways, by making a donation, sharing expertise, volunteering to give time for various tasks (online or face-to-face) or collaborating (as an organisation) on joint projects. Contact us for more details.

We're person to person, not top-down

Dadamac Foundation's work is unique. (It is very different to work in traditional top-down projects where there is a clear distinction between "donors" and "beneficiaries" and very little dialogue between the two.) Our organisation has grown through people connecting with people.

Our work sits comfortably in the "organisationally flat" world of the Internet - a world of two-way, world-wide communication (increasingly familiar to many people through the use of social media and mobile phones). This means that whatever your involvement with Dadamac Foundation you can be confident that the initiatives you support are relevant to local situations and needs, and are based firmly in reality.

We do practical things - and share what works.

In Dadamac Foundation we emphasise sharing good practice, learning from each other, and cross-cultural collaboration. We believe that the best way to solve problems effectively in the long term is with a mixture of shared knowledge (global knowledge and local knowledge) and with a combination of resources (local resources and external resources). We have an approach where people work patiently together to find solutions that work properly on the ground, and we have an ethos of sharing what is learned.

To continue and expand our work we need additional resources (both human and financial).


We invite you to get involved in our work by giving some time or a donation, or simply by spreading the word about Dadamac Foundation. To make a donation. For more information contact us.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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