IDRC Archives — Page 2 of 2 — LIRNEasia

IDRC is starting a new initiative on inclusive innovation for development. As part of that effort a workshop on universities and intermediaries for inclusive development with participants from across several countries in South Asia plus South east Asia, and IDRC representatives from Canada and elsewhere, is being held in Negombo, 2-3 February 2012. Sujata Gamage, LIRNEasia’s Lead Scientist, is one of the lead speakers and the key liaison for this activity. Dr Shambu Prasad of the Xavier Institute of Business Management is the lead organizer. Sujata Gamage’s presentation is here.
Conventional evaluation privileges short-term outcomes (if it gets to outcomes at all). This is unavoidable. As a teacher I used to think that the true results of my efforts would be seen five-ten-fifteen years down the road. But my university needed to know how good a teacher I was every quarter or every year, so remedial action could be taken or my good/bad teaching could be factored into my next pay raise or promotion. How my students did fifteen years later was the true test, but the time frame was wrong for what the university had to do.
IDRC has been in the business of applying knowledge to development for forty years. Much better than straight Dollars or Renminibi. But then, that could be a self-serving statement, given we are in research and IDRC is our principal funder. Anyway, Chanuka Wattegama has written about all this in the Daily Mirror, and included references to two of our projects: The aim of the Last-Mile Hazard Warning System, an IDRC supported joint research project of Sarvodaya and LIRNEasia immediately after the 2004 tsunami, was to deploy various alert and notification wireless technologies intended to reduce the vulnerability of local communities to natural and manmade hazards in Sri Lanka. Adopting an ‘all-hazards, all-media’ approach, designed around a set of five wireless communication technologies: addressable satellite radios for emergency alerting, remote alarm devices, mobile phones, fixed phones and VSATs this research evaluated the pros and cons of each technology.
An external evaluation of the Pan Asian Networking program under which LIRNEasia was funded since 2006 has just been published on the IDRC website.  There are many references to LIRNEasia, one of the larger projects funded by PAN, but I found the para below the most intriguing: Influence on telecommunications policy reform has been one of the strongest areas of the program’s outcomes, at least in terms of explicit causality, specifically from the work of LIRNEasia.  According to many informants, however, LIRNEasia, is a special case given the organizational culture, the numbers of people devoted to working almost exclusively on policy issues, the specific policy arena in which they work, and the strong personality at the center of the group. While LIRNEasia successes are notable, the external review panel urges the program not to set LIRNEasia as a standard for outcomes, since their achievements would be difficult to replicate elsewhere. The quotation has been taken from the Findings Brief, prepared by the IDRC Evaluation Unit, though the same sentiments are also found in the External Review Report.

Incentives not intervention

Posted on October 10, 2009  /  0 Comments

That is the phrase I brought back from Harvard Forum II that I attended on behalf of LIRNEasia a few weeks back. In 2003 they held Harvard Forum I (which, among the LIRNE.NET group only Alison Gillwald attended). One of the results was the funding of organizations like LIRNEasia that seek to remove policy and regulatory barriers to the use of ICTs. This time the focus was on “what next.
Lead Economist, Harsha de Silva and the AgInfo work that he has been leading at LIRNEasia has been featured in the International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) 2008-2009 Annual Report. Read the full feature here (page 16)
Today (16th June 2009) if you were to google “great mobile debate” you will only see references to one held as part of the Forum Oxford Future Technologies Conference 2008. But if the people who ran and attended the IDRC PANall conference in Penang last week are as netsavvy as I think they are, you are likely to see Great Mobile Debate of Penang supplanting the Oxford debate in google searches. The proposition won. I was the proponent, so not entirely unbiased, but it did, as evidenced by the cheering and the congratulations that followed. Given this was a topic that fully resonated with LIRNEasia’s 2008-10 research program, it was understandable that we won.

So what?

Posted on June 12, 2009  /  0 Comments

Our primary funder IDRC is having a big gathering of all its Asian fundees in Penang. As one of the main plenary events, they conducted a “talk show” with representatives of three of their leading projects in the region. Helani Galpaya participated in this talk show from LIRNEasia. At the conclusion, she was asked the following question: “we do not just fund good research, we ask what it will yield for development; we ask so what?” She answered, saying that the good use made of resources entrusted to LIRNEasia could be illustrated through three examples: 1.
As a results-oriented organization, that is a question LIRNEasia has always been interested in. The discipline that seeks to answer that question is evaluation. They recently held a conference in Sri Lanka. We are ratcheting up our emphasis on evaluation now that we have a substantial body of work to talk about. A key element in this will be Chanuka Wattegama’s participation in the most important evaluation training program currently being offered, the International Program for Development Evaluation Training offered every Summer at Carleton University in Ottawa, with the cooperation of the World Bank and IDRC.
A conference entitled, ‘Infrastructure Regulation: What works, Why, and How do we know?’, is being organized by LIRNEasia, together with the Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore and the University of Hong Kong, to be held from 26 – 27 February, 2009, at the University of Hong Kong. Sponsored by the IDRC, Canada, the conference will bring together distinguished scholars and practitioners who are experts in the area to address essential issues in regulations through conceptual and empirical studies. The conference will address the following questions: Does regulation work? What kind of regulation works?

Evaluation in Practice

Posted on July 11, 2008  /  0 Comments

Development organizations are pressed to demonstrate that their programs result in significant lasting changes in the well-being of their intended beneficiaries. However, such “impacts” are often the product of a confluence of events for which no single agency or group of agencies can realistically claim full credit. As a result, assessing development impacts is problematic, yet many organizations continue to struggle to measure results far beyond the reach of their programs. Outcome Mapping is one methodology used to address this issue. The originality of this approach lies in its shift away from assessing the products of a program to focus on changes in behaviour, relationships, actions, and activities in the people, groups, and organizations it works with directly.

Coverage for LIRNEasia book

Posted on December 31, 2007  /  1 Comments

Click on the links to see the full articles covering LIRNEasia’s book, ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks. ‘BSNL’s monopoly over infrastructure a hindrance to growth’ – Financial Express (India) Rural connectivity is now the focus of every telecommunication player in the country. Almost all stakeholders, from handset manufacturers to service providers, believe that the next wave of growth is in the rural areas.”However, India’s roll out (of telecom services) in rural areas has been slow. BSNL has the backbone infrastructure but is not yet ready to share it with private players,” he added.

Do Policy & Regulation Matter?

Posted on December 13, 2005  /  0 Comments

Nov 17, 2005, infoDev session, organized in partnership with IDRC    A panel of distinguished experts responded to this broad question dealing with what role policymakers and regulators can play in balancing the public interest and fostering a flexible environment for ICT innovations. Rohan Samarajiva’s response is available as a video. [please allow file to load completely before playing]    Moderator: William Melody, LIRNE.NET, Center for ICT, Technical University of Denmark Panelists:      1. Muna Nijem, Chair, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, Jordan 2.