Prizes for local digital development projects that change the world

Summary

The role of digital technologies in development co-operation is becoming increasingly crucial, and Belgium recognises the best

Crossing frontiers

Three projects with Flemish connections have taken home the honours in a national competition that highlights the role of digital technologies in development. Now on its second edition, the Digital4Development (D4D) competition rewards ground-breaking initiatives developed by Belgian organisations together with partners in the global South.

The 2018 D4D prize for the most impressive success story went to Access Agriculture, a video platform on which farmers from the global South share their knowledge about sustainable growing techniques. These videos are usually translated into several local languages, helping the knowledge spread.

There are currently around 1,300 videos on Access Agriculture in no less than 76 languages, which have been watched in more than 100 countries. In addition to the benefit of sharing agricultural knowledge, the project also trains local partners in the making and translation of videos.

The prize for most promising innovation went to the WisePocket application, developed at the Free University Brussels (VUB) and the Universidad de Oriente in Santiago de Cuba. This mobile phone app uses interactivity and game play to make health campaigns more effective.

Digital basic income

Finally, the winner of the public vote was Eight, an initiative that gives an unconditional basic income to everyone in a small Ugandan village, using digital money on mobile phones. The aim is to free people to make better use of education and health care, and to stimulate economic activity.

The competition is run every two years by the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren and the Belgian Directorate-General for Development Co-operation. Federal development minister Alexander De Croo presented the prizes on 4 October.

“The digital revolution connects people, crosses frontiers and creates new opportunities, and that’s also true in development, where it creates breakthroughs we could not have imagined 10 years ago,” he said. “That is why digital for development is an absolute top priority of Belgian development co-operation and the reason we are trying to build an international coalition on this issue. This year’s three D4D winners show, once again, that our country is leading the way in this field.”

Photo courtesy Access Agriculture