We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

Involving local people in the design of development policies and technologies will help them become "the everyday inventors of their own solutions", argues José Gómez-Márquez.

Technology designers tasked with finding solutions for the developing world focus mostly on cost and adaptability to local environments, he says. But encouraging co-creation in the design process empowers local people to become collaborators — not just end users.

Not all designs will make an effective invention, so empirical evaluation is critical, says Gómez-Márquez. And this needs to take into account the economic behaviour of users.

Local innovators should be educated to use research into the impact of their designs as a key part of the process, he says.

And the field of behavioural economics — the study of how people make economic decisions — can provide insights into how best to speed up the diffusion of locally-designed innovations.

He cites the example of healthcare personnel choosing to not share information about medical education they received if they had to pay for Internet access.

Evaluating innovations using behavioural economics can also guide the development of tools that directly induce behaviour change, says Gómez-Márquez.

In Nicaragua, compliance with medication for tuberculosis was higher among patients given free mobile-phone minutes and chemical diagnostics. These proved to be more effective incentives than microfinance in an early evaluation.

Gómez-Márquez argues that although designers may not want to relinquish control and work with non-professionals, collaboration will allow local users to come up with novel and innovative development strategies.

Link to full article in Boston Review