Next year's focus: data and digitalisation in development cooperation

Get ready for joint learning sessions, best practices, road maps and so on!

agenda November 20, 2019

Last Thursday, Partos and The Spindle organised a lively session on data and digitalisation in development cooperation. Opening this session, Bart Romijn, director of Partos, gave a brief sketch of digitalisation in the development cooperation domain. Obviously the abundance of data and a wide variety of digital means provide ample opportunities for connecting, mobilising and co-creation. Yet, the reverse side is that also a number of alarming phenomena emerge, such as the prevalence of (social media-driven) popular opinion above public opinion, algorithms and artificial intelligence that stimulate exclusion and surveillance capitalism that not only predict but also direct and manipulate peoples’ behaviour in the market and in politics.

Partos, through its innovation platform The Spindle, for 2020 will focus on data and digitalisation. It will tackle both challenging areas through joint learning sessions (including sharing best practices), developing a road map for strategically and operationally embracing data management and digitalisation and a working group on responsible data. Also, Data & Digitalisation will be the leading theme of the 2020 Partos Innovation Festival. Partos will also stimulate cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its Digital Agenda.

Keynote speaker Deputy Director General International Cooperation Birgitta Tazelaar (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) shared the governments’ vision and ambition on digital technologies in development cooperation policy. You can find the Digital Agenda for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation here. She expressed that advancing technologies bring great potential but also embody certain risks which must be addressed. Mrs Tazelaar also provided a number of inspiring examples of promising practices taken from the new Ministry’s publication “33 Showcases; Digitalisation & Development, Inspiration from Dutch development cooperation”. The entire keynote of Tazelaar can be found here.

Jacqueline Lampe, CEO of RNW Media described the transformation of her organisation focussing on digital communities for social change. With a variety of example from RNW Media’s projects, such as Citizens Voice and Love Matters she illustrated that digital technologies can help to reach, serve and mobilise a very large global audience. She stressed that it is key to understand the access to digital means by the target group, in RNWs case youngsters. According to Lampe, the ethical discussion about data use is of great importance and deserves growing attention in the years to come.



The session was concluded with ten short pitches of frontrunners in implementing technological innovations for doing good. Many of these innovations were also presented in the ministry’s publication on digitalisation. Here you can find a brief overview of the projects that were present at the market place:

  • Anton QuistPax for Peace – The Human Security Survey (HSS) is a methodology developed by PAX’s Protection of Civilians (PoC) department to collect data and facilitate constructive dialogue about civilians’ experiences, perceptions, and expectations in situations of conflict.
  • Daniel DietrichHivos – With SPEAK Hivos and its Indonesian partners are building the capacity of local CSOs and women’s groups to advocate for gender-responsive budgets and to monitor the implementation of health and education services.
  • Gunilla KuperusWWF Nederland – SRJS is a strategic partnership program between WWF, IUCN NL and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help CSOs increasing their influence on governments and businesses. In Asia, a machine learning early warning system (EWS) was developed to predict deforestation in such an early stage that timely action can be taken by governments and communities, so that loss of carbon storage can be avoided.
  • Harro NipDelft Imaging Systems – The Dutch company Delft Imaging Systems, together with Radboud University Nijmegen, developed software (CAD4TB) helps detect new TB cases at an early stage.
  • Janny VosCabi – Working closely with national agricultural advisory services, CABI establishes and supports sustainable networks of plant clinics, run by trained plant doctors, where farmers can find practical plant health advice to minimize crop losses. Plantwise: the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, is a gateway to practical online and offline plant health information, including diagnostic resources, best-practice pest management advice and plant clinic data analysis for targeted crop protection
  • Madelon Cabooter:  PharmAccess Foundation – M-TIBA is a personal mobile phone-based mHealth Wallet. Individuals can use M-TIBA to get insured, save money for themselves, or pay for their own or their family’s healthcare at clinics connected to the M-TIBA platform.
  • Marloes Mul:  IHE Delft Institute for Water Education – The WaPOR data portal, hosted by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) is a database that uses satellite data to monitor agricultural land and water productivity throughout Africa and the Near East.
  • Martijn Marijnis:  ICCO Cooperation –ProMEva is a Project management tool for Development Aid Organisations focussed on Monitoring and Evaluation. successfully brings together the framework offered by IATI, the demands of the Monitoring and Evaluation unit and the vision of IT. By visualising the data that is directly entered into the system, the quality and timely delivery have significantly improved. At the same time, statistical analysis in real-time is now possible. Due to the nature of ICCO, we wish to share this technology with our peers, rather than making it proprietary.
  • Sander de JongFairfood International – Working towards sustainable food chains, starts by knowing where your food comes from. Fairfood offers tech solutions that enable food businesses to improve their responsible business practices. With our traceability platform, we bring more transparency to food chains,  starting by tracing products from farm to fork. We actively engage all chain actors, ultimately contributing to the socio-economic prosperity of farmers and food workers.
  • Stefania Giodini:  Rode Kruis Nederland – the mission is to shape the future of humanitarian aid by converting data into understanding, put it in the hands of aid workers, decision-makers and people affected so that they can better prepare for and cope with disasters and crises. A smart use of data will positively impact faster & more (cost-)effective humanitarian aid.

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