The main aim of this report is to summarise the evidence available on the effects of ICT4D partnerships on poverty reduction. The research question: “What are the key lessons of ICT4D partnerships for poverty reduction?” guided the review. A further aim of the study was to use systematic and reproducible methods of investigation of the published literature to enable a judgement to be made about the quality as well as the content of the evidence available.
Prospectively, a protocol was developed to guide selection of studies for inclusion in the review. This protocol was designed to reduce bias at all stages of the review. The review was undertaken in five stages; developing search terms and sources to reveal appropriate studies, literature searches using search terms, scrutiny of results of searches to identify studies that fulfilled pre-defined inclusion criteria, data extraction and synthesis of data into a summary of evidence. For all included studies the quality of the research methodology was judged.
From across different regions of the world, literature searches identified 156 publications on ICT4D partnerships that reached the initial inclusion criteria. Searches missed two studies which were identified by the panel of experts. The experts recommended 2 studies for exclusion. After further scrutiny, in accordance with the criteria in the protocol, 53 studies were selected for inclusion in this review.
Summary evidence came from both successful and less successful partnerships in delivering ICT4D initiatives involving governments, the private sector and civil society. Key conclusions emerging from these studies were the importance of attention to the local context and preferably involvement of the local community in the partnership and the need for a clear focus on the intended development outcomes about which all partners agree, preferably in a formal partnership agreement. Better results were evident when a clear action plan was present, particularly when this plan had a long-term focus relating to sustainability and scalability. Partnerships that fostered trust, honesty, openness, mutual understanding and respect, and prioritised relationships between partners and had a supportive technological environment, in terms of infrastructure as well as policy reported more successful outcomes.
Challenges in the review process included categorising differing interpretations of the term \"partnerships\", the need to include and synthesise qualitative as well as quantitative research, a lack of studies focusing explicitly on the direct impact of ICT4D partnerships on poverty reduction and the tension of ensuring that the review minimised the bias of the reviewers whilst capturing important issues. The review highlights the need for more studies that use identifiable models of partnership and report on outcomes relating directly to the impact on development goals.
Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK, 89 pp.