ICT for development programs

We have branched out to provide successful projects outside disaster response – projects that provide education and disaster communications infrastructures as well as systems that use communications technology to provide solutions for NGO’s, governments and populations. TSF’s ICT for development programs are described further and categorised in the following -1/ Information Systems, 2/ Bridging the digital divide and 3/ Communication and Technology Innovation- according to the type of activities implemented.


The aim of TSF’s longer-term prevention and development activity is to bridge the digital divide and to use ICTs to allow local partners to more effectively and effectively advance their goals in areas such as health, agriculture, education, economic development, and crisis prevention. These programs aim to share the benefits of ICT and mobile communications because ICTs are not only essential to humanitarian action in emergencies, but also for the development activities that can prevent disasters or mitigate their impact.


IMG_3125TSF’s programs directly benefit the local populations, very poor people who struggle for a better life, and the following objectives are attained:
- Improving the quality of life for the population through the implementation and the reinforcement of activities that respond to their special needs
- Participation in the development of the community thanks to reducing the digital divide and the sharing of information; this acts positively upon the local economy

- Effective participation in the development of any local initiatives and their coordination


Information systems
Monitoring systems, early warning systems, data collection and data dissemination


TSF brings its technical expertise to assist organisations in building information systems to improve health systems, research and to prevent and fight food crises and epidemic diseases.
- Set Up Food Crisis prevention monitoring system – Niger
- Information system for Malaria monitoring - Thailand
- Epidemic monitoring system – Nicaragua


ICT health programs - Since 2002, TSF has been working with health organisations to create a vital link between isolated communities, healthcare workers and public health institutions and reduce health inequities. Remote areas of developing countries often suffer from a lack of basic equipment and medical staff, and particularly medical specialists, as well as basic computing equipment and connectivity. For more than ten years, TSF has assisted health organisations in reinforcing their medical capacities.

TSF clearly understands the importance of ICT tools for the success of initiatives in the areas of health and food security. Our very first programs in this domain are briefly described below. Their positive achievements are still in evidence and these successful initiatives have laid the foundations for our most recent ICT health programs.


Phone lines to save lives


In 2002, TSF installed mobile satellite phone lines in San Bartolo (Nicaragua) and Gadabedji (Niger), which are situated several hours driving distance from the nearest health care centre. Since they were set up, these phone lines have been dedicated to medical emergencies, calling ambulances or informing the nearest hospital of the arrival of a patient. They have been very useful for the mobile medical teams in particular in treating pregnant women and people with life-threatening illnesses.


Telediagnosis through video-emergency: TSF telemedecine program in Nicaragua


Since 2002, the video-emergency system implemented is enabling the remote examination of patients by transmitting pictures in real time to the medical specialists based in main cities as well as an immediate exchange of medical information (X-rays, reports, electrocardiograms, patient check-up) with the field team. The remote diagnosis is particularly suited to emergency treatment. It means patients can be prioritised according to the seriousness of their state, and then the need for transfer to the hospital can be assesed. The remote diagnosis is also especially useful for the monitoring of patients with physical malformations and pregnant women (monitoring the pregnancy, foetus, and child).


Monitoring the health and sanitary situation in Niger


TSF has provided access to telecommunications in Niger since the summer of 2005, when a terrible food crisis affected more than 3 million people in the country. Since then, TSF has been providing remote telecoms centres, technical support services, and has even created new software to strengthen the communications system of the government’s National Food Crisis Prevention System. The mission of this early warning system implemented by TSF is to avert food crises. The system can be adapted to deliver a range of other types of early-warning information such as health or epidemic monitoring.


In 2008 and 2009, TSF collaborated with the National Health Information System (SNIS) of Niger to build an information system in order to contribute to the reduction of acute malnutrition and mortality among vulnerable populations. It is a crucial decision-making tool for health stakeholders in Niger who can be informed in real time of the sanitary and nutritional situation.


ICT to fight malaria


TSF provides ICT support to the Mahidol-Oxford research unit’s laboratories and health clinics - which monitor and treat malaria among the refugee population - on the border between Myanmar and Thailand. Malaria kills over one million people each year. The situation is acute along the Myanmar-Thai border, where treatment of resistant parasites is taking hold. TSF is empowering health care workers, who treat thousands of Burmese refugees and Thai patients - with special attention accorded to pregnant women and children.


TSF has computerized the systems of the clinics. Previously, all patient data was recorded and stored on paper. A computerized data base now allows real-time data access to patient information by doctors allowing them to secure support and creating a framework for measuring impact.


Mobile technologies serving the health sector in Nicaragua

SMS solutions, broadcast, information gathering, etc


In 2009, TSF implemented an epidemiological monitoring system for the Ministry of Health in Nicaragua (MINSA), using GSM technology to fight the dengue fever epidemic in Managua. Today, TSF is still working alongside the System of Integral Health Services (SILAIS) in the capital, and also supports MINSA to reduce maternal mortality rates and improve epidemiological monitoring in the Jinotega region. Great advances are already noticeable in terms of medical coordination and TSF is working with MINSA to extend the system to other areas in the country.


The communication system used by TSF is based on a computer and a GSM card to create a central server for communications (FrontlineSMS technology). Once installed, the program enables the exchange of messages between many interlocutors via mobile phone. Equipped with a mobile by TSF, each health institution can send different types of information via SMS, based on a pre-completed form.

Information sharing networks for rural development in Nicaragua

TSF supports rural development initiatives in the Telpaneca region and the Esteli region with the creation of information dissemination networks (by SMS) for the benefit of villages and farm cooperatives. The central servers for communications are located at farm cooperatives and at the Telpaneca community broadband center (which has become a key resource centre for the agricultural production in the region); they are the focal points from which crucial economic and technical data are sent to various regional stakeholders on their mobile phones, including: the value of the dollar, coffee prices, prices of other foodstuffs, technical agricultural advice, fertilizer prices, etc.

Educational Programs: economic progress goes hand-in-hand with technological evolution
Bridging the digital divide

TSF’s community ICT centres: Connecting those who are isolated and building up local capacities


Access to Information and Communication is a Universal Right. Examples of TSF’s ICT for development programs include: the development of community ICT centres in Abalak (Niger), Dakoro (Niger), Guiè (Burkina Faso), Telpaneca (Nicaragua), Svay Check (Cambodia) and Miarinarivo (Madagascar). Once the installation of the centre has been achieved, it offers community members and students, as well as local and international organisations working with those vulnerable communities, the means to communicate to the outside world: computer and IT equipment, broadband Internet connection, phone lines, fax, and computer and Internet trainings. ICT training workshops are tailored to the needs of the different beneficiaries (students, job seekers, active professionals) and various services of technical assistance are also provided to the beneficiaries (software installation, antivirus updates, equipment and software maintenance, repairing computer bugs...). The mastery of IT tools is an essential factor for development. These telecom community centres provide invaluable assistance to the local communities and provide the bedrock for the different development programs carried out by the associations. Abalak, Dakoro, Guiè, Telpaneca, Svay Check and Miarinarivo are now regions connected to the rest of the world. Thanks to these initiatives, the eradication of digital isolation is progressing.


Beneficiaries are:
Students (primary school, secondary school, university)
Villagers, members of the community
Local authorities and institutions: town halls, schools, prefecture, syndicates, decentralised government services
Agricultural stakeholders: farmers and livestock breeders
NGOs and associations in the fields of child protection, economic and rural development, indigenous rights, education, health care, etc.
Medical personnel


Sectors of beneficiary activity:
-    Support to the agricultural sector and breeders
-    Fight against exclusion
-    Fight against poverty
-    Fight against malnutrition
-    Child protection and Early childhood development
-    Education and elimination of illiteracy
-    Information
-    Local administration and authorities


The NGO-partners working locally to the direct benefit of the population are the local facilitators while benefiting also from the local connections set up by TSF. Those connections enable them to conduct their development projects with local associations more efficiently. The objective is that after 2 years TSF steps back from the projects and the local partner can take over. On an ongoing basis, however, TSF continues monitoring the centres, accompanying their management and providing an essential technical support to the personnel in the field.  


Today, our centres opened between 2007 and 2010 are managed by the NGO-partners and the local communities autonomously. Nevertheless, TSF continues to follow their evolution and give advice on their management when requested. Throughout the year 2011, TSF continued to give technical advice, to repair the defective equipment and reinforce connections.


TSF’s educational programs in San Bartolo, Nicaragua

In addition, for the past 10 years TSF experts have provided computer and Internet training to the inhabitants of the San Bartolo region in Nicaragua, in order to allow the people of this region to develop the educational tools they need to use technology to help their local community and obtain jobs.

Communication and Technology Innovation


Research and development


Operations centre management tools

TSF carries out its own innovation work as well. Between missions, TSF’s technological staff works to develop improved softwares and new technology solutions and put them in place during field deployments.  


One example is the TSF Box. This improves the management of the telecoms centres, managing access rights for the different organisations, prioritizing traffic, and collecting data automatically. The use of the TSF box economizes on costs and captures the information needed to improve efficiency. More ICT solutions are currently being studied and developed by our technical department to be implemented in the field for the benefit on humanitarian organisations and local communities.


2011 marks the deployment of the Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro handset, the Eutelsat Tooway terminal (KA-SAT) and the Vodafone Instant Network Solution on our emergency missions.

Mobile Communications Technologies for Development


TSF is conscious of the importance of new technologies for emergencies but also for preparation in the long-term and development programs, and for the spread of these technologies. The mobile divide is narrowing. In developing countries, the use of internet on mobile phones is growing. Crucial advances are for example being made in mobile technologies with a large range of functions now available in smaller devices. That is why TSF is constantly working to integrate new solutions, which can offer a broad array of useful applications in the field, into our operations.


Turning to mobile phones and to SMS tools, we can imagine different mobile applications and dedicated software (already existing or that can be developed) being used by our teams on the ground. Different software today exists, and the existing tools have many applications; TSF is aware of these existing systems (e.g. RapidSMS, RapidAndroid, FrontlineSMS, Open Data Kit, Episurveyor, Ushahidi).


October 2011- June 2012: Mobile payments systems in support of food security and environmental development actions in Kenya


TSF has worked with Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Germany (an international non-governmental organization whose mission is to improve the welfare of vulnerable populations in developing countries, through improving animal health and production) to implement Cash Transfer and Cash for Work activities for poor pastoralists in drought affected areas of Kenya. Cash transfers provide money to people who are struggling to provide food for their families. Through this 8-month project and the implementation of remunerated development activities linked to the environmental management, TSF is reinforcing VSF-G’s capacities in the field of new technologies to aid the affected populations.