• Introduction
  • Identified Areas of Interest
  • Lesson Learnt
  • Success Story
  • Conclusion

1.0 Introduction:

Kampala, Uganda “It’s not enough that we have technological capability at our fingertips. We have to get technology into the hands of local partners and program participants” said Catholic Relief Services Humanitarian Response Vice President, Jennifer Poidatz, marking the focus on practical applications, how technology can empower, and partnerships at the 11th conference on ICT4D in Kampala, Uganda. With over 900 attendees from over 85 countries and 440 organizations, RECOWA’s participation was worth it as there are several keys areas the Bishops of West Africa is encouraged to adopt the use of ICT so as not be left behind as the world moves towards total digitalisation in work place whether in the cosy comfort of the office or the tough landscape of field project implementation.

Lauren Woodman, CEO of NetHope highlighted that most non-profits have digitized their back office processes but haven’t necessarily gone digital yet to empower people to experiment, refine and constantly enhance digital offerings. She recommended that digital nonprofits start with changing the way people work, through redesigned processes, made possible by technology.

2.0 Identified Areas of Interest:

Through in several sessions of the 4 day conference, there are several areas of keen interest that would be bring immense impact to the work we do especially as we turn our focus on migrants, refugees, youth and land.

  1. Land Grabbing:

In the next 3 years, with interest in advocacy project in the fight against land grabbing in West Africa, RECOWA can leverage on the expertise of CADSATA, a United States organisation, who is a technical service provider of land expertise and technology for individuals, organisations, governments and business, looking to secure land rights to build stronger, more sustainable communities. CADSATA offers partners affordable and open-access tools and technical assistance to support their effort to document and secure land and resource rights.


Partnership: RECOWA through partnership with CADASTA can have access to technology tools which can be used to help communities in partnership with the government acquire land ownership documents for their land. This provides security for the land from land grabbing and land resources “thieves”. With CADASTA tool, community or individual lands are mapped out, stored and access from anywhere with the use of internet. Details of land can be used as evidence of ownership and provides evidence in situations where their land rights are infringed.


  1. Migrants and Refugee Safe Space:

With interest in  migrants & refugee crisis in West Africa. The Bishops are open to setting up safe spaces along border regions of West Africa at diocese along border towns. These safe spaces are to provide information and counselling to migrants who have been misled into taking up the treacherous journey of illegal migration across the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean sea. Humanitarian OpenstreetMap Team (HOT) offers partners a technology tool for mapping. This tool provides partners to directly map out their facilities and structures on a digital map which can easily be accessed from anywhere.


Partnership: RECOWA through partnership with HOT is able to map out Catholic facilities and institutional structures across the region. RECOWA with the use of this technology, map out safe spaces across country borders in West Africa to enable migrants and refugees to may be stranded or need help access locate a safe space where he/she can be helped for safe return back home and re-entry into community.


  • Catholic Facilities and Assets:

The Catholic Church which is the biggest church in the world and owns a lot of structures and assets across the landscape unfortunately lacks a comprehensive database of location and information of at these structures and assets. HOT offers RECOWA tool for mapping out Catholic facilities and assets across the region. This tool will provide location and information of every facility and assets mapped out across the region.


  1. GMOs

The fight against the use of GMOs in West Africa is of great interest to RECOWA. RECOWA in advocating against the use of GMOs for food production by our farmers should be able to provide access to information on how to get the best possible seeds for planting by farmers. Welthungerhilfe is a Zimbabwean based organisation that offers farmers through their mobile app, Agrishare, tractor hire and provider service to farmers in Zimbabwe. Agrishare uses the enormous potential of digitalisation, which is an important step towards achieving the goal of Zero Hunger.


Partnership: RECOWA can adopt the technology in partnership with Welthungerhife access the Agrishare app and it can be customised to fit into the need to provide local farmers with access and links to those to provide the best seeds and farm inputs for farming. RECOWA providing access to quality seeds and farm inputs provides the needed alternative for farmers to get the best seeds and farm inputs for their farm practices thereby  discouraging the use of GMOs for farming.


  1. ICT

As RECOWA evolves more into taking its place in the region a force for peace, justice and development. It is essential to also adopt technology in administration and program implementation. TARO Works, Technoserve, Salesforce, JAMBULE all provide tech solutions in various areas.


Partnership: In areas of finance, administration, program implementation, the organisations above work with NGOs to provide the best possible technological solutions to their to solving their challenges.


3.0      Lessons Learnt:


It is the first time RECOWA is participating at the ICT4D conference. It would be essential for RECOWA to have more staff participating at the conference. This will improve a better view of use of technology across all departments of the organisation.

  •  Success Story:

For the first time to many, RECOWA is identified. Through participation, the West African Bishops have made a statement of intent to not be left behind in the adoption of technology in administration and program implementation. RECOWA must therefore build on this through consistent participation, adoption of technology to improve administration and program implementation and reporting, leverage on partnerships that will provide innovative solution to how the church can be involved in development through technology and participate in research to improve humanity in West Africa through the use of technology.

5.0       Conclusion:

The results from a survey of 600 development professionals conducted by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Devex were shared, with 47% of respondents identifying Asia as having the most rapid growth in ICT4D, with 33% of respondents identifying Africa as a growth region. When it comes to the democratization of technology the survey results showed only 24% of organizations identified program participants as primary users of ICT4D, and partners 14%. The work to increase these was the aim of the ICT4D Conference in Kampala. RECOWA must therefore not be left behind in the adoption of technology tools in areas of finance management, administration, programming (Social Development) and other areas the RECOWA may find it necessary as technology can be applied in all aspects of an organisation. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now” an African provide. We must brace for the challenge ahead as we move into the future if digitalization.


Day 1 Plenary Session

Day 2 Plenary Session

Session on Putting People First: Practical Methods for Designing for and with users at Every Stage.

Session on Putting People First: Practical Methods for Designing for and with users at Every Stage.

Session with Salesforce team

Written by:

Okwoche Godwin I.

Program Officer (Projects & Administration)