Collaboration, Learning, and Adaptation in Action: A Look Into USAID's Digital Development Awards
The annual USAID Digital Development Awards (the Digis) highlight the importance of collaboration, learning, and adaptation in Agency programming and recognize those working to advance the vision of the 2020-2024 Digital Strategy—to implement efficient, effective, and responsible digital initiatives that enhance security and economic prosperity, consistent with the American values of respect for individual rights, freedom of expression, and democratic norms and practices.
After an open application period, the winners of the 2022 Digis will be announced and commemorated at an awards ceremony, and their stories will be widely shared through winner profiles, social media, blogs, and other communications.
“Be collaborative” is one of the Principles for Digital Development and all Digi Awards winners must align with these principles. We know that we can have the most impact when we work together across geographies, focus areas, and organizations and in partnership with local communities and governments. USAID-funded organizations across the spectrum—from large private sector companies to small local entities—have worked together to share information, insights, strategies, and resources. Winners of the Digi Awards must collaborate with intention and as a result, serve as important role models for the larger digital development community. Another Principle for Digital Development– Use Open Standards, Open Data, Open Source, and Open Innovation–can help to increase collaboration and maximize resources in the digital development community.
Some digital technologies enable project teams to access quality, just-in-time information and data, including partner feedback, to inform decision making. Data often supports the learning process and enables improvements. Sharing information and learning on successfully integrated digital technology and services, as we do through the Digi Awards ceremony and winner profiles, support other implementing partners to have more efficient, effective, and measurable development and humanitarian assistance outcomes.
Reuse and Improve - another Principle for Digital Development - is innately related to learning. It encourages project teams to look for ways to adapt and enhance existing resources and approaches, learning from tried and tested applications to improve overall quality and impact in future implementation. Adapting ways of doing things can be risky and time consuming, but collaboration and iterative, agile development can be very effective when developing digital tools and software. Adapting a project to deploy digital tools where they were not used before has proven to be transformative for many USAID projects.
Collaboration, learning, and adapting are vital for the success of USAID’s projects and activities in the fast-moving world of digital technology. To apply digital development effectively and responsibly, USAID and our partners remain flexible in how we endeavor to address risk and seize opportunity, with the aim to learn and adapt throughout the process of implementation.
To contribute to collective learning about USAID’s digital development activities, please spread the word about the 2022 Digital Development Awards and consider applying. Applications are open until 11:59 PM ET on June 17, 2022.