Thus, when we were invited to the launch of the Principles for Digital Development Conference in Washington, D.C., we were sceptical at first. The conference was called to present 9 principles endorsed by organisations such as WFP, WHO, UNDP, USAID and UNICEF in an attempt to guide the digital development efforts of non-profit organisations throughout the world. But we wondered: would such a diverse group be able to come up with a set of common principles that would adequately address the central problems of ICT4D projects?
When we were actually shown the principles during the conference, however, our interest was piqued immediately. From the very start, the Principles for Digital Development encourage charitable organisations to “design with the user” (no. 1) and “understand the existing ecosystem” (no. 2). To our delight, this puts the focus of the 9 principles chiefly on the user’s experience and environment, facilitating the same holistic approach that has been at the core of Avallain Foundation’s work from the start. “This approach has always been the most important aspect of our work”, says Dr Martina Amoth, Director of Education for East Africa at Avallain Foundation. “Both as a Kenyan and as the person in charge of communications between our team and our end users, I was thrilled to find that the focus on the user has received such a prominent position among the 9 principles – and to find so many ICT4D organisations endorsing this approach. I knew we had to join this effort.”