Tech-enabled success stories in international development

The term ‘Digital Disruption’ is often associated with progressive ways businesses can improve the effectiveness of their operations and achieve more accurate business insights. Despite the marketed potential of ‘Digital Disruption’, it is still daunting for not-for-profits (NFPs) to understand the key benefits of technology to be willing to invest in it. In this blog, we will show practical examples of how NFPs working in international aid can harness the power of mobile technology and data analytics to tackle some of their biggest challenges.

1. Expanding the scope for change

One of the key challenges the NFP sector faces is providing aid to people in remote communities. This is often due to a lack of appropriate infrastructure and the associated costs of servicing clients in rural and remote areas.

How mobile technology addresses the problem:

  • Breaks down physical barriers
  • Removes the need for individuals to travel long distances to reach traditional brick-and-mortar facilities

In healthcare, mobile health apps can help patients by saving them the time to travel long distances to receive a diagnosis. Mobile apps enable patients in remote communities to reach qualified healthcare professionals (which may not be found in their own communities) and hence increase the likelihood of receiving the most effective treatment for their illness.

Africa carries more than 24% of the world’s disease burden and only 3% of the world’s global health force. This has prompted investments in mobile technology healthcare initiatives (mHealth) to help connect patients to the right healthcare solution. One organisation, Malaria No More (MNM) issues a rapid diagnostic device paired with a mobile phone to patients in remote areas so that they are able to self-diagnose themselves. After performing a test with the portable diagnostic device, patient’s will instantaneously receive an SMS with either a negative or positive reading – a process which otherwise would take weeks to receive results and by that point, the patient may be in critical health.

2. Improve effectiveness and deliver better services

Another key challenge that NFPs experience is the ability to target the right solution to address complex problems in international aid. Data analytics is the science of analysing raw data to retrieve valuable insights and is becoming increasingly valuable to NFPs. Through capturing big data sets, data management and analysis, NFPs have a better chance of identifying the root causes of a complex problem.

NFPs can use analytics in the agricultural sector to:

  • Measure and track the effect of aid on agricultural productivity
  • Forecast weather conditions to reduce the risk of crop failures
  • Help select the right fertilisers for a certain region

The Grameen Foundation, a micro-finance non-profit, partnered with the data analytics company Palantir to analyse geo-located soil samples in Uganda to identify which types of soil were most effective for crop growing. This analysis helped the Foundation improve the effectiveness of their giving model by directing sponsorship towards the right soil in the appropriate area.

‘Digital Disruption’ is not simply a buzz word. While technology can be utilised to tackle some of the most difficult problems in international aid, it is not enough- it needs to be paired with innovative strategies to work effectively. So many international aid NFPs struggle to bridge the gap in reach and delivery of their services, the combination of a smart strategy and the right tool could be the solution.

Are you a not-for-profit or international aid organisation trying to navigate the world of tech? Deloitte’s Social Impact Consulting practice is passionate about working alongside Australian not-for-profit organisations to unlock their potential through innovative strategy, technology and capacity building. We have partnered with some of Australia’s leading international aid organisations to identify opportunities to leverage digital technology to deliver better outcomes to the communities they support. We can support you in developing a tech-enabled strategy for success. For more information please contact the authors below.


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