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Technology: Development Sector’s Catalyst during COVID-19

Technology became a stronger catalyst of development during the pandemic


It is impossible to imagine work without videoconferencing with our colleagues, attending a webinar or not engaging with stakeholders via social media in the COVID-19 era. Remote working has become a new norm for us and despite restrictions on physical mobility, we are still agile in our daily work thanks to technology. Every cloud has a silver lining, and the pandemic has paved opportunities to accelerate digitisation in different industries, including the development sector.


How the development sector tackled the emergency digital transformation challenge

The development sector relied on technology to ensure efficiency in programme delivery, building fundraising capacity, conduct trainings and knowledge dissemination. Digitisation enabled development sector organisations to find innovative ways to stay connected with the communities that they serve and communicate their needs to the policymakers. For this, a range of digital tools were explored and all that was required was internet connectivity, a laptop, or a phone, to connect, communicate and act across locations.

As organisations implemented emergency social distancing measures and closed offices, staff were required to work from home. Instead of viewing investments in digital tools as taking away from service delivery in the backdrop of the pandemic, it was an enabling entity. Using technology, the development sector continued to have an impact amidst the historic disruption.


Technology as a medium to disseminate information

If we look at Gram Vaani’s (a social-tech company) COVID-19 technology outreach during the pandemic, we see how technology has played a significant role in disseminating health-related awareness in the rural communities of India.

‘In March last year, for us to combat COVID-19, our organisational priorities were realigned. Along with ensuring the safety of our staff and volunteer teams, we leveraged our platforms and capabilities to support communities, especially hard-to reach (rural and low-income) communities. We partnered with a network of ground level field partners – social sector organisations, and leveraged our technology to build community awareness, counter misinformation, enable community feedback and also provide relief support by linking those in need to critical services. Our COVID-19 response network included more than 26 civil society partner organisations across 10 states, covering more than 80+ districts, servicing over 900K users, logging over 2.5 million phone calls and 25,000+ user-recorded messages over the period. The campaign helped us better understand and work towards addressing the health, social and economic challenges faced by the most vulnerable populations in the country, as a consequence of the COVID19 pandemic’, said Vijay Sai Pratap, co-founder & CEO, Gram Vaani (OnionDev Technologies Pvt. Ltd.)


Working with technology is the future

We cannot deny that the pandemic has led to overwhelming economic burnout and a humanitarian crisis. However, with the adoption of technology, the development sector has been successful in yielding positive results. It has taught us to stay ahead of the curve and prepare for any future crisis. It paved the way for progression, innovation outlook and employee upskilling. With this in mind, the development sector can look forward to fostering social impact with their digital learning and using innovative tools to explore new partnerships, build capacity and empower communities that they pledge to serve. Effective technology is not only necessary to create and impact during crisis, but also to lay groundwork for the long-term recovery of communities.


Learn more in our report Development Sector: Adapting to the New Ecosystem in the COVID-19 Era.

March 15, 2021