The co-financing of this project aiming at structuring the associative sector (otherwise called "SMA project") and led by CartONG was confirmed by the French Development Agency, in parallel with 13 other initiatives, at its last NGO committee meeting on October, 15th 2019.
The project is dedicated to strengthening the way Information Management is handled by francophone Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) over the 2020-2022 period. The two CartONG co-leads of this project, Maeve de France and Edmond Wach, agreed to a short interview so as to give you a quick insight into its main challenges and objectives.
Let us take this opportunity to invite all the organizations interested by our project and/or those who would like to benefit from the resources produced as part of this three-year initiative to get in touch to learn more.
What is the main objective of this "SMA project"?
In a nutshell, this project aims to foster the appropriation by CSOs of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in support of humanitarian and development projects, and more specifically on what we call "Information Management".
What is "Information Management"?
Information Management is a concept commonly used at CartONG since it is our main area of expertise. Yet, its definition is not fully consensual within the sector and this is why we thought it was important to clarify what we intended to cover as part of this three-year initiative.
We could have actually opted to only use the term of "Information and Communications Technology" – the equivalent of which in French is a concept relatively well known by the general public and francophone CSOs. However, it encompasses a diversity of technologies, approaches and skills broader than "Information Management". Since the project aims at only focusing on the use of operational data by CSOs, we decided that using "Information Management" in English would be better so as to characterize the scope of the project. In French, however, since "Gestion de l’information" - its literal equivalent - is not commonly used within the CSO sector, we opted to promote a new terminology aka "Gestion des Données Programme" (to learn more, you can read the French version of this article).
|In practice, "Information Management" refers to all the processes, methodologies and tools required at the different stages of the operational data analysis chain, i.e. from the collection of data in the field to decision-making be it at field or headquarters levels (and to which operational data contributes).
Why does CartONG want to implement such a project?
In the age of the digital revolution, CSOs are required to handle and process more and more operational data, which are necessary to the proper management of their programs (no matter the subject: health, access to safe water, education, agricultural development, etc.), both at field and headquarters levels. Such a “broad” management of data requires specific skills, methodologies and tools that CSOs often lack internally – as per our experience at CartONG.
This project was conceived in line with our new associative project, echoing CartONG's mandate to "put data at the service of humanitarian, development and social action projects". The co-funding that was granted by the French Development Agency is a great recognition of our role as a multidisciplinary resource and expertise center on data in the humanitarian and development sectors. In particular, it will enable us to continue our work in support of CSOs by promoting the pooling and release of new Information Management resources.
We talked about the main objective of the project. In detail, what does it correspond to?
As mentioned above, the main objective of this project is to strengthen Information Management within francophone CSOs. In practice, this means supporting them in the handling and use of Information Management methodologies and tools that allow them to properly manage operational data essential to the functioning of their operations, such as, for example, mobile data collection and mapping. It also means improving their understanding and use of Information Management approaches and processes such as data protection or the optimization of data analysis and processing.
The project also aims to support the strategies of CSOs facing difficulties in taking the "Digital Turn" due to a lack of understanding of the issues linked to - and the importance of - Information Management within the humanitarian and development sectors. Through the development of new studies and methods, the project will enable CSOs - of all sizes and areas of intervention - to improve their understanding of the digital ecosystem and its challenges and impacts, and thus improve their operational strategy. More details in the summarized version of the logical frame (available in French only).
How is this project different from other CartONG projects?
While we already have a lot of experience in producing strategic and practical resources for field professionals (a few examples below), many needs remain unanswered and CartONG remains dependent on its operational partners, who often have very limited capacity to finance such initiatives intending to benefit the sector as a whole.
This project, following a logic of pooling resources together, thus aims not only to avoid the proliferation of uncoordinated and unsustainable initiatives that regularly emerge in our sector, but also to support CSOs that generally fail - for the time being - to invest sustainably in these complex subjects on which they (still) have little capacity of seeing the broader picture.
By enabling the large-scale production and dissemination of strategic and operational resources for the sector as a whole, we will accompany a change in the way humanitarian and development CSOs use Information Management. Ultimately, we hope it will increase the positive impact of their actions at field level in support of vulnerable populations.
Who will benefit from this project?
First of all, it is important to understand that this project targets the full spectrum of international aid actors: i.e. both emergency organizations and those implementing development projects. Secondly, this project is aimed at both very large and very small scale organizations. However, the core target group remains small and medium-sized actors, in other words, those with a limited capacity to recruit dedicated specialists and/or to invest independently in Information Management. Finally, if this project is aimed primarily at supporting international francophone CSOs based in Europe and, more broadly, national CSOs based in the countries of operation, an effort will be made to translate and disseminate the resources in the English-speaking world so as to include anglophone CSOs.
In concrete terms, the target audiences are:
With which partners will CartONG implement this project?
This project will be carried out in partnership with 10 humanitarian and development actors (operational NGOs, H2H organizations, training organizations, etc.):
The project is scheduled to start in December 2019. We will continue to communicate regularly on the progress of this "SMA project" through our quarterly newsletter and the articles we publish on our website.
This project is supported by the French Development Agency (AFD). However, the ideas and opinions presented in this article do not necessarily reflect those of AFD. More information about the activities of AFD on their website: www.afd.fr/en