Collage with ten images of people using mobile phones and tables

In an effort to recognize USAID Missions, Bureaus and partners that are helping build an inclusive digital economy while accelerating development impact with cutting-edge technologies and advanced data analysis, the Lab is hosting the second annual Digital Development Awards (“the Digis”).

The five winners of the 2018 Digis not only use digital technologies and data-driven approaches to support their program goals, but also advance the resiliency and self reliance of their communities. Working across sectors, the 2018 Digi winners demonstrate how digital tools and data can be used to support global health, empower women and girls, catalyze innovation and partnerships, and demonstrate USAID’s commitment to transforming development. The 2018 Digital Development Award Winners are:

  • Digital Inclusion in the Peruvian Amazon implemented by Centro de Información y Educación para la Prevención del Abuso de Drogas (CEDRO); USAID Peru
  • Feed the Future Tanzania Land Tenure Assistance Project implemented by DAI; USAID Tanzania
  • FlaveDor and the Moldova Competitiveness Project implemented by Chemonics; USAID Moldova
  • Jamii Africa and the Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector Plus (SHOPS Plus) Program implemented by Abt Associates in partnership with Edgepoint Digital; USAD Tanzania
  • WeMUNIZE and the Maternal and Child Survival Program implemented by Black Swan Tech Ltd.; USAID Nigeria

Congratulations to each of the 2018 Digital Development Award Winners. Learn more about each project below, and stay tuned for news on the 2019 Digital Development Award application window. 


Digital Inclusion in the Peruvian Amazon from USAID Peru

Peru faces an increasingly urgent connectivity challenge. While approximately 50 percent of urban households have internet access, only 12 percent of rural households have access to the internet. That number drops to a mere three percent in areas served by USAID. This lack of connectivity limits educational, financial, and social opportunities, leaving communities at risk for increased poverty, instability, and limited economic options, leading some to participate in illicit trades as a source of income.

Through a two-stage partnership with Cedro Peru, the Digital Inclusion in the Peruvian Amazon project initially focused on building community skills, digital literacy, and financial education through the launch of telecenters in remote areas. Now in its second stage, the project has launched a Global Development Alliance, a public-private partnership with USAID, the Government of Peru, and leading tech companies like Cisco and Yachay Telecommunications, to expand connectivity services with a reinforced emphasis on promoting digital skills training and opportunities to rural communities that have been forced to rely on illicit narcotics trade and coca farming.

Harnessing the full potential of the Global Development Alliance, the Digital Inclusion in the Peruvian Amazon project builds upon existing Mission work and ensures that the program is sustainable beyond the scope of the project by opening new markets for private investment and coordinating with the Government of Peru and its National Broadband Plan. With proven training programs that have reached over 5,000 participants, the project also promotes economic opportunities outside of illicit trade and farming, supporting global stability. In this new phase, the project has the potential to expand connectivity services to more than 100 communities in central jungle regions and meet community requests for more training opportunities, catalyzing new opportunities through this partnership, and reaching 10,000 additional community members through expanded training programs, most of whom will be women, supporting USAID’s goal of empowering women and girls.

Learn more about the Digital Inclusion in the Peruvian Amazon project in this Exposure blog: Preserving Peruvian Culture

Feed the Future Tanzania Land Tenure Assistance from USAID Tanzania

Without a centralized land registration system and given the often prohibitive costs of formal land surveys and registration, over 80 percent of land in Tanzania is unregistered, contributing to a number of challenges. Boundary disputes can be difficult to resolve without formal documentation and land sales and other transactions are informally recorded, giving rise to mistrust and insecurity. This has led to the exclusion of smallholder farmers and other land owners from financial resources  to a lack of credit and collateral.

Feed the Future Tanzania, working with implementer DAI, established the Tanzania Land Tenure Assistance activity to provide an affordable, transparent system of registration. This activity enhanced and utilized USAID’s Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST) program to capture locally gathered GPS data which is then mapped and registered by the District Land Office to provide official certification of village residents’ rights to occupy land parcels. Recognizing the need for a way to track the sale and transfer of land rights, the project developed the Technical Register Under Social Tenure (TRUST) software, an open source program that allows District Land Offices and financial institutions to record all land transactions and even mortgages, creating a comprehensive and easily accessible digital record of all land rights.

Thanks to this new open source platform, MAST and the Tanzania Land Tenure Assistance activity have transferred over 45,000 certificates documenting village land ownership in Tanzania to the TRUST database. The official certification provides land owners the ability to purchase and sell their land with confidence that the transactions are officially recorded and cannot be challenged, promoting transparency, stability, and trust in the government system. This has opened the door for new agricultural investments and provided land owners with increased access to financial resources using their legal record of landholding as collateral. Building on the success, the program worked with the Government of Tanzania to ensure the sustainability of the open-source platform and seeks to expand its use in all districts, eventually using it as part of a national land management system.

Learn more about the Tanzania Land Tenure Assistance Activity in this Exposure blog: Her Land Rights

FlaveDor and the Moldova Competitiveness Project from USAID Moldova

Moldova has a growing wine industry, employing over 200,000 people and making up five percent of the country’s exported goods. However, this otherwise thriving industry is threatened by Flavesence dorée (F. dorée), a contagious, incurable pathogen that impacts approximately 20 percent of vineyards in the region. While the contagion can be isolated, the manual process of inspecting and testing each vine is a long, laborious one, allowing the pathogen time to spread and spoil the crop that so many in Moldova depend on as their source of income.  

FlaveDor activity, funded by USAID’s Moldova Competitiveness Project, uses drones and GIS data to digitize the vineyard inspection process, allowing farmers to quickly inspect, identify, and isolate vines infected by F. dorée. Through the use of a specially designed drone and software system, the program can quickly scan all vines in a given area, pinpointing specific plants infected with the pathogen. Thanks to a cloud-based image processing software, it then shares that vine’s location with the grower so a sample can be taken and tested to confirm infection. This streamlined process has been tested in other countries and is a proven method to save time, money, reduce pesticide use, and increase the accuracy of detection, with an 85 percent success rate in neighboring countries.  

Through this innovative use of technology, remote sensing and data analysis, FlaveDor is protecting and strengthening the Moldovan wine industry and its segment of the economy. The improved detection methods provided by these technologies help growers prevent harvest loss caused by F. dorée by 40 to 80 percent and improves the overall quality of their crop. The new tool is also used to detect vegetal growth for vineyards and other crops. This technology has also catalyzed a partnership between the program and Moldovan government, with the technology now is managed by Moldova’s National Office of Vine and Wine, a public-private partnership, which oversees all vineyard production in close partnership with the regional winegrowers associations. The Office hopes that it can expand FlaveDor beyond the initial pilot phase and become a sustainable nationwide solution to the challenges F. doree causes in the Moldovan wine industry.  

Learn more about FlaveDor and the USAID Moldova Competitiveness Project in this Exposure blog: Disease-Detecting Drones

Jamii Africa from USAID Tanzania, supported by the Sustainable Financing Initiative through the Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Plus project

Every year, over 50,000 Tanzanians are diagnosed with HIV. Despite the urgent need for continued treatment and care, most HIV patients lack health insurance and face financial barriers to access needed care. Only 26% percent of Tanzania’s 50 million people have health insurance, either through the National Health Insurance Fund, which largely targets those in the formal economy, and Community Health Funds, which provide limited benefits and target those in the informal economy. Private health insurance is provided by some private employers and sold to individuals, but its cost is prohibitive for low-income communities, including many people living with HIV/AIDS. When a health care need arises that cannot be met in the public sector, the uninsured often face the difficult choice of whether to sell assets or borrow from friends, family or money-lenders. Alternatively, they may forgo formal medical care altogether.

With funding from PEPFAR, USAID’s Sustainable Financing Initiative (SFI) works to increase domestic financing for HIV/AIDS, including through strengthening health insurance schemes and private sector markets for HIV services. With SFI support and in coordination with the Office of HIV/AIDS, the (Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector) SHOPS Plus project, USAID’s flagship initiative in private sector health, partnered with Jamii Africa to offer a new, simple health insurance product, Jamii, for low-income and at-risk Tanzanians. Through a partnership between Edgepoint Digital, a digital services intermediary, Vodacom, a leading mobile telecom company, and Jubilee Insurance Company, Jamii Africa uses the M-Pesa mobile money platform to allow Vodacom customers to register and pay for low-cost private health insurance through their M-Pesa account. Additional administrative processes for enrollment, premium collection, and claim processing are digitized through Edgepoint Digital. The insurance underwriter, Jubilee Insurance, provides clients with access to its network of health providers at no cost to them at the time of service. The Jamii product provides limited benefits for outpatient and inpatient care, including for HIV/AIDS, maternal and other care. Almost all diagnoses and treatments are covered up to a pre-set limit, making the product easy to understand and use. As Jamii Africa launched its pilot, SHOPS Plus helped design and implement community-based awareness campaigns to build enrollment among target populations, including people living with HIV.

Jamii Africa partnership takes an innovative approach to promoting global health by providing a cashless, paperless platform to efficiently and conveniently deliver affordable private health insurance. Thanks to its unique partnership model, Jamii offers many their first experience with health insurance. This helps build awareness of the benefits of financial risk pooling for economic protection and increased access to health care. By using the SIM card associated with each client’s M-Pesa account, Jamii Africa limits the amount of new information customers must provide to register. Jamii Africa also gains additional insights about client spending and mobile phone use habits to inform future outreach and campaigns. During the pilot period and its partnership with SHOPS Plus (June – December 2017), Jamii Africa insured more than 5,100 Tanzanians in four regions. It is currently building on this experience to develop and implement a sustainable strategy to scale up across Tanzania.

Learn more about the SHOPS Plus project in this Exposure blog: Ensuring a Healthy Family

WeMUNIZE and the Maternal and Child Survival Program; USAID Nigeria

Sokoto state in northwestern Nigeria has one of the lowest child immunization rates in the world. With only one in 10 children successfully completing their first year of immunizations, this region contributes to Nigeria’s low immunization levels, presents a serious public health concern and limits the ability of the government and external organizations to eradicate serious, but preventable illnesses.

Faced with limited local record keeping and low levels of literacy and connectivity, the WeMUNIZE program, implemented by local technology start-up Black Swan Tech Ltd, uses a combination of digital record keeping and community engagement to increase early childhood immunizations in Sokoto state. Working alongside other development organizations and local and state governments, the project identifies local community leaders to send robocalls and SMS messages to mothers and caregivers, urging them to immunize their children. These calls use GPS to target homes with children under one year of age and help specially trained volunteers follow up with families. Each volunteer then uses the WeMUNIZE app to digitally record immunization information and take a photo of the child, printing it as an incentive for the caregiver and storing it as a way to track the child’s development. These records are then monitored to ensure immunization schedules are followed, reducing dropout rates to under 10 percent.

The WeMUNIZE program uses locally accessible digital tools to address an urgent public health concern and promote global health. Through an in-depth and well-researched understanding of the social, educational, and logistical barriers that contribute to this challenge, the program was designed to use the social standing of local leaders to encourage caregivers to immunize children. Using a combination of robocalls and SMS messages in the local Hausa language, the program addresses possible literacy concerns, while its use of both male and female community leaders help break down gender inequality. Additionally, the project recruits primarily women for their team of specially trained volunteers and  supports them with free mobile phones, empowering women to help their communities and overcome social barriers. Thanks to its coordination with the Government of Nigeria and partners, the project catalyzes further innovation and partnerships, sharing immunization data generated to improve stakeholder coordination and even going so far as to transfer ownership to the state government to build local capacity.

Learn more about the WeMUNIZE program in this Exposure blog: Automating Public Health