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The Digital Opportunity - USAID

Like railways and roads before it, the internet is unleashing waves of innovation and transforming the way in which businesses, consumers, and governments operate and interact with each other. The rapid growth in mobile phone ownership and mobile broadband usage is serving only to accelerate this digital revolution.

This new found access to digital information and services is empowering individuals, opening new channels for delivering more effective and scalable services from governments and the private sector, and enabling a more adaptive, data-driven approach to decision making.

The opportunity is clear, but it is not a forgone conclusion that digital technologies will benefit those who arguably stand to gain the most.

Four billion people in developing countries still don’t have access to the internet, including a staggering 93 percent of households in the least developed countries. And women are, on average, 14 percent less likely to own mobile phones than their male counterparts.

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This collection focuses on apps for mobile devices, mobile devices that are self-contained and links to organizations developing tools.  This is intended as a guide for discussion at all levels of development - from those who have few resources available to those who have a higher level of resources but may not be aware of their potential.

We welcome additional references, so please send us any additional information that might help others.


  1. Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO) is a Michigan State University based program. SAWBO transforms extension information on relevant topics such as agriculture, disease and women's empowerment, into 2D, 2.5D and 3D animations, which are then voice overlaid into a diversity of languages...
  2. Access Agricultureis an international NGO which showcases agricultural training videos in local languages. Here you can see examples of videos, download them or order a DVD copy. The audio tracks can also be downloaded by radio stations. This is a platform for agricultural R&D staff, service...
  3. Azuri has used mobile technology to turn a development challenge into a business challenge through its Azuri solar home systems, which allow users to pay for solar power on a pay-as-you-gobasis, just like they dofor their phones and kerosene. This provides clean, safe renewable power to families...
  4. USAID Feed the Future - Digitizing the agricultural value chain Why Where How
  5. Smallholder households, estimated at about 500 million globally in low- and middle-income countries, are the largest segment by livelihood of those living under $2 a day. Traditionally excluded from formal financial services, digital financial services represent an opportunity to deepen financial...
  6. How low-cost sensors and more accurate data can transform farming in Myanmar In a perfect storm of technology, access, and opportunity, IDEO.org went to workin Myanmar to explore new agricultural applications for low-cost sensors. After a flurry of research, a myriad of prototypes, and trips to...
  7. This online resource is intended to introduce USAID mission staff, implementing partners and other interested parties toThe Guide to the Use of Digital Financial Services in Agriculture.This resource will help you diagnose and assess your own agriculture value chains to determine where and how...
  8. TheU.S. Global Development Lab (Lab) and theBureau for Food Securityare collaborating in an effort called “Digital Development for Feed the Future” (D2FTF) to demonstrate how leveraging digital tools holistically and according to best practices can improve the cost effectiveness and development...
  9. The Leaf Doctor performs quantitative assessments for plant diseases on plant organs such as leaves. Users collect or submit photographs of diseased plant organs and calculate the percentage of diseased tissue. Through a user’s touching of the device screen, the algorithm employs user-specified...
  10. A comprehensive collection of crop nutrient deficiency photos. A range of nutrient deficiency examples are provided for 14 prominent crops. Text and diagrammatic descriptions are also provided. alfalfa, banana, barley, canola, citrus, cotton, maize, oil palm, potato, rice, sorghum, soybean,...
  11. We’ve come to a time in civilization when raw materials and resources are becoming ever more scarce. When we take into consideration the pollution, increased emissions, soil degradation and water depletion, we know thesustainabilitychallenges that loom in the horizon are real. But into this same...
  12. Welcome to AIMS AIMS is a portal with information about and access to standards, technology and good practices. It is also a forum for connecting information management workers worldwide and for discussing open access and open data. AIMS stands for collaboration and interoperability.
  13. e-Agriculture SURVEY on the PRINCIPLES for DIGITAL DEVELOPMENT
  14. The advent of drones this small, cheap, and easy to use is due largely to remarkable advances in technology: tiny MEMS sensors (accelerometers, gyros, magnetometers, and often pressure sensors), small GPS modules, incredibly powerful processors, and a range of digital radios. All those components...
  15. Field Book is one of the apps developed for theOne Handheld Per Breederinitiative. Field Book is a simple app that can be used by researchers to easily take notes on field research plots. Other digital note-taking tools are often complex spreadsheet applications that don't allow for fast and...
  16. This link takes one to Amazon to view a list of GPS-based area measurement devices. We have no particular recommendation. This is a starting point for the concept of area measurement. Note that there are some that have more capability for international use - units of measure, language, etc.
  17. Half of the billion people affected by undernourishment worldwide earn their primary living from smallholder agriculture. The productivity of these farmers remains very low. A major issue in this context is the lack of access to technical and market information, and to financial services....
  18. Mobile Assay’s customizable product and services offer a comprehensive solution for all your diagnostic needs. MIRRORis a versatile quantitative RDT reader application for android and iOs smartphones. Whether your concern is food safety, animal safety, or point-of-care diagnostics for health,...
  19. Agricultural production in the Caribbean is constrained by limited access to up-to-date, local information. However, recent ICT developments in the region have created e-solutions to these challenges, improving crop production and reducing pests and diseases as well as post-harvest losses.
  20. Achieving scalable impact by design Proximity Designs is one of the largest non-profits operating in Myanmar today. Founded in 2004, our products and services have improved the lifestyles, and boosted the incomes of over 250,000 rural people across the country.To reach scale, and maximise impact,...
  21. CTA promotes the adoption and dissemination of sound practices in the domains of participatory spatial information management and communication otherwise known as PGIS. This site provides an updated account of completed and ongoing initiatives.
  22. Like railways and roads before it, the internet is unleashing waves of innovation and transforming the way in which businesses, consumers, and governments operate and interact with each other.The rapid growth in mobile phone ownership and mobile broadband usage is serving only to accelerate this...
  23. At IDEO.org, our goal is to improve lives through design. Which means that we are designing for impact, building partnerships with organizations that know how to bring innovative solutions to life, and continuing to evolve the products, services, and experiences we design even after they're out...
  24. 2016-11-01 The presentation will cover available geospatial datasets and open-source analysis tools including weather and soil data, and basic applications of QGIS and R for spatial data. Examples will be drawn from the presenter's involvement in the ICRAF impact evaluation "Assessing the Downstream...
  25. Rating: 5.0 - 1 Vote
    Landpotential.org is a global partnership committed to developing and supporting the adoption of freely available technology and tools for sustainable land use management, monitoring, and connecting people across the globe. The Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) delivers tools and...
  26. The potential natural vegetation (PNV) map of eastern and southern Africa covers the countries Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia. The first version of the map was developed by variouspartners in East Africa and Europein 2010 and has now reachedversion 2. The...
  27. The "MyWorldWeather" is the mobile application of the "World Weather Information Service", supporting the major iPhone and Android platforms. Equipped with location-based technology to detect a user's locality, the application can automatically display the latest official weather forecasts for...