On International Day of Rural Women we discuss Timor-Leste, and how considered tech-for-development programs are contributing to change

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It’s no secret that rural communities in developing countries face a unique set of challenges compared to their urban counterparts. Isolation, scarce resources, and poor access to basic services like clean water, education and health facilities are common.

In Timor-Leste, over 70% of the population live in rural areas and there is a significant geographical divide, with rural women and men having lower education, less employment, and higher poverty.¹

Yet the inequality doesn’t end there. Patriarchal social structures reinforce rigid gender norms, resulting in an inequitable division of responsibilities between men and women in both public and private life. …


The Olgeta pilot project set out to bridge the gap between unemployed youth and skilled jobs. Here’s what we learnt.

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Finding a job can be stressful. Not only do you need the required skills for the job, you need confidence to put yourself out there, and an intrinsic belief you can succeed.

For young people living in rural villages, gaining these basic skills can be a challenge. With limited internet connectivity and few opportunities to build their work experience, the temptation to venture out into the wider workforce can be understandably low.

It’s a challenge rural youth in developing nations are regularly faced with.

In the Solomon Islands, only 20% of people aged 15–24 are employed, yet there is an unmet demand for skilled workers. With an ever-increasing skills shortage and a growing ‘youth bulge’, the government is seeking innovative solutions to equip rural youth with the tools to pursue meaningful work and careers. …


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Amidst a rapid pivot to address the impact of COVID-19, strong partnerships have been the most vital tool in our toolbox.

Many approaches to managing the risks of COVID-19 have focused on three things: information, resources and outreach. But here’s one thing that can make these initiatives go further: collaboration.

COVID-19 has uprooted many things. It has changed the way people work, the way we socialise, and how we access information. At Catalpa, nearly all of our work interactions now occur over Slack or Google Meet. And like many other international development organisations, we’ve had to rapidly pivot our focus and programs to address the immediate impacts of the pandemic.

We’ve always worked closely with partners and focused on outcomes for people, and so we’ve always put collaboration at the core of what we do. But that’s taken on a new meaning in these times. In our response to COVID-10, our human-centered design approach and the digital tools in our toolbox have been essential. …


‘The health system can reduce discrimination against women by giving women equal opportunities to assume leadership roles.’

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Hamutuk is a multi-sector program bringing together more than 20 organisations to improve nutrition in Timor-Leste.

Originally published on the innovationXchange blog.

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“Everybody needs good nutrition to improve their future. Malnutrition is a very difficult issue, and that’s why partners need to work together.” — Francisco Tilman (chief of Uru Fu, a remote sub-village in Holarua, Manufahi Municipality)

Timor Leste has some of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. Nearly half of all children under 5 years suffer from chronic undernutrition, or stunting, and over a third of all women are underweight. Reducing all forms of malnutrition is a national priority.

Stunting can affect children’s educational attainment as an adult. It can limit their earnings throughout life, and increase the risk of developing chronic disease. Preventing it can create intergenerational change for individuals, communities and nations, including social and economic benefits. …


A few snippets of the things we’re proud of, from teachers using the Matenek app 45 minutes each day to more than 50,000 women receiving maternal health info

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Hey there, 2020. Welcome to this year with us at Catalpa! As January comes to a close, it’s time to plan and build on the things we’ve achieved with our partners over the past year.

Something that’s important to us (and we believe should be important to all in the aid and development sector) is local ownership and long-term sustainability. With many of our projects in early stages, we’re prioritising co-designing solutions with local partners, including government actors and community members, to make sure they’re tailored to the right people. …


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Here’s what we learned running an education technology pilot program with the Government of Timor-Leste.

Matenek means “smart” or ”wise” in Tetun, a native language of Timor-Leste in South-East Asia.

It’s also a mobile-first platform to support teachers’ skills development, motivation, and classroom preparation, a project we undertook with the Timorese Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports. The app incorporates lesson plans, professional development videos, flashcards, and notifications to prompt preparation and monitoring. And it’s all in line with the Ministry’s curriculum.

The goal is to build teachers’ confidence, so they can better teach the next generation.

At Catalpa, we practice collaborative, human-centred design. Before we developed anything, we made sure teachers were included in the design process. …


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This article was initially published on the International Aid Transparency Initiative blog. They spoke to Anders Hofstee, co-founder of Catalpa, about our work on aid transparency and the release of our new tool, IATI Sync.

What is Catalpa International?

We use design and technology to improve how aid and development works. We’re big on data and evidence, and aid transparency is one of the areas we’re passionate about. We also work in education, health, environment, market development, disability and more.

We try to use information to help people make more informed decisions. Our biggest aid information project, Mohinga, collates local and international aid data in Myanmar. It’s currently supported by the German agency GIZ. …


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Women’s stories of bravery and persistence aren’t told often enough.

UN Women’s theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’.

We couldn’t be happier with it — because we believe not only in the power of technology to transform women’s empowerment, but in making sure women are included in the development of innovative tools and programs.

Globally, women and girls face huge gaps in representation. Access to technology and women’s ability to use and create digital tools are part of that gap. According to the GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report 2018, in low- and middle-income countries, 184 million fewer women than men own a mobile phone. …


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Hello, new year! Here are some wins in health, education and more.

Wow, 2018 escalated quickly. We signed new projects, broadened the reach of existing ones, did a great deal of design research, developed new technologies, nearly doubled the size of our team, and even welcomed new babies into the growing Catalpa family.

As we plan for the next year, we want to celebrate a few things that happened over the last year with the help of our partners and the amazing people we work with.

In 2018, we saw…

9,228 birth notifications via the Liga Inan program — and of those babies, 70% were delivered with a skilled birth attendant at a clinic or hospital

7,997 classroom observations conducted via the Eskola platform to help improve school…

About

Catalpa International

Creating a more equitable world through tech + design | www.catalpa.io

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