For the second year in a row, Chemonics partners with leading development entities to hold the all-virtual Global Digital Development Forum.


Digital technology has had a profound impact on global development across sectors and in many parts of the world. On May 5, public, private, and civil society organizations from more than 120 countries will join the 2021 Global Digital Development Forum. Now in its second year, this free online event will bring together more than 2,500 humanitarian and development practitioners to explore the use of digital platforms around the world to enhance program quality, improve decision-making, increase impact, and accelerate progress toward the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

Chemonics partnered with USAID, Digital Impact Alliance, IntraHealth International, IREX, TechChange, and Save the Children to organize and host this year’s 16-hour event. With sessions spanning the globe from 4:00 GMT to 20:00 GMT, participants from Asia, Africa, Europe, and across the Americas will be able to join keynote presentations, lightning talks, breakout sessions, interactive workshops, and technology demonstrations hosted in English, Spanish, and French.

The unique forum will also enable participants from various sectors and locations to convene around emerging trends in complex, interdisciplinary topics like information integrity, gender and social inclusion, artificial intelligence, and technology-enabled COVID-19 responses. Governments, international aid agencies, and private sector representatives will lead sessions in these tracks to share their latest thinking in global efforts to tackle these challenges. Chemonics experts will contribute to the dialogue through 14 sessions, lightning talks, and networking events, with topics such as technology-enabled distance learning, rural finance, logistics management information systems, sustainable court automation, and data for COVID-19 response.

Manisha Aryal, Chemonics’ senior advisor for digital development, will host multiple keynote speakers, including USAID Counselor Chris Milligan at 9 a.m. EDT (13:00 GMT).

“Chemonics is proud to co-organize the Global Digital Development Forum for the second year in a row,” says Aryal. “We’ve seen a lot of innovation and creativity in the way we integrate digital solutions in our implementations, especially in the wake of COVID-19. We’re excited to work with our partners to co-host an inclusive virtual event highlighting the essential role of digital technology in the future of development.”

Below is the full list of Chemonics’ sessions on May 5, along with times (in GMT):

  • In-Service Teacher Training: Responding to COVID 19 Using Blended Learning, 5 a.m. (Lightning Talk):

    COVID-19 forced a shift from traditional face-to-face teacher training to using an online/offline platform. This blended learning approach created a more effective and practical training experience for teachers in Tajikistan and created an opportunity for long-awaited teacher training reform. Terry Giles, chief of party for the USAID Tajikistan Read with Me project, will share the project’s findings and success.

  • Putting Data in Indonesian Health Workers’ Pockets to Support COVID-19 Response, 5 a.m. (Breakout Session):

    As COVID-19 continues to rage on, data and information systems remain key to supporting and protecting health workers. Using the human resource information system (HRIS) and data analytics platform, Indonesia’s Ministry of Health not only rapidly developed dynamic dashboards for both planning and monitoring emergency response programs, but created an HRIS mobile app that supports vaccine distribution for health workers. Taufiq Sitompul (ICT advisor) and Leah McManus (project lead), HRH2030 Indonesia, will join staff from Indonesia’s Ministry of Health to share the process and lessons learned, demo tools, and hear firsthand accounts from health workers.

  • Small and Medium Enterprises power the FinTech Ecosystem in Pakistan5 a.m. (Breakout Session):

    Kaiyan Yousaf, competitiveness enhancement lead for the USAID Pakistan Small and Medium Enterprise Activity, will share how innovative “fintechs” in Pakistan are leveraging and strengthening the economy by providing payment solutions, gateways, and tools. Hear how four Pakistani trailblazers are enabling individuals and small merchants and businesses to make and receive payments digitally.

  • Unlocking the Key to Successfully Digitizing an Agribusiness, 7 a.m. (Breakout Session):

    Organizations around the world are undergoing a rapid digital transformation, but for many it’s easier said than done. Marcos Moreno, chief of party of the USAID Uganda Youth Leadership in Agriculture Activity will explore agribusiness digitization through the experiences of three organizations that collaborated on the project to help Equator Seeds improve their decision-making and management processes with a combination of WhatsApp, a cloud-based accounting and ERP program, a farmer profiling and payment application, and digital scales and weighing software.

  • From Small Nudges to Big Gains in Teacher Professional Development8 a.m. (Lightning Talk):

    In the space of a few months, hundreds of teachers in Syria have built a buzzing professional development network. Through Facebook Live broadcasts, teachers solve each other’s classroom issues, and they use quick videos to share effective teaching techniques. Hear from Ayman Al Haka, education specialist on the Manahel Project, Syria Education Programme, how the coaching team used teachers’ own motivation and a select few behavioral nudges to build an active, self-sustaining professional development network.

  • Adult Distance Learning During the Pandemic, 8 a.m. (Lightning Talk):

    Drawing from experience running distance learning programs for municipalities and civil society organizations in Lebanon during the pandemic, Alice Azar, senior civil society organization capacity building manager for the USAID Lebanon Community Support Program, will present the major findings of training effectiveness during the pandemic, including trainee reactions, lesson retention, and implications on trainers’ abilities and skills.

  • Use of Innovation & Technology for Access to Medicine and Improved Health Outcomes, 9 a.m. (Breakout Session):

    Christian Kisimba, LMIS specialist, USAID GHSC-Technical Assistance Francophone Task Order Project.

  • Innovative Approaches for Sustainable Court Automation in Developing Countries, 9:30 a.m. (Lightning Talk, French):

    Court automation in developing countries leads to accessible, effective, and transparent justice systems, but these countries often lack the resources to maintain them. The case management information system implemented in Haiti uses an innovative approach to achieve sustainability, including a simple design that is easy to use and maintain while providing value. Philippe Lamarche, chief of party for the USAID Haiti Justice Sector Strengthening Program, will share how court staff are its biggest advocates, proving that a user-friendly, reliable tool creates demand.

  • Rural Client Uptake of Financial Services in Post-Conflict Colombia, 11 a.m. (Lightning Talk, Spanish):

    In rural, post-conflict Colombia, financial institutions face the challenge of building trust with unbanked customers long excluded from the formal economy. Doing so with digital services requires a greater cultural shift. Learn the challenges and solutions of digital financial services in rural Colombia, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Asdrubal Negrete, chief of party for USAID’s Rural Finance Initiative, will share examples of partnerships with financial institutions, internal business adjustments, and how the project helped clients build trust in digital services.

  • App Draws Attention to Violence Against Women, 11 a.m. (Lightning Talk):

    Cecilia Barraza Morelle, deputy chief of party, USAID Colombia Justice for a Sustainable Peace Project.

  • Need a Break from Gold Mining? Take an Online Class, 12 p.m. (Lightning Talk, Spanish):

    Responsible gold mining is technically challenging — legally registered gold mining even more so. Given this, training becomes an essential component of any mining formalization exercise. However, traditional training is expensive, particularly for small gold miners in isolated regions and with low levels of formal education. The USAID Colombia Legal Gold Activity designed a learning platform to support miners undergoing formalization. Peter Doyle, chief of party, and Yhonn Chacón, component lead, will present the “Oro Legal Virtual” platform.

  • How ICT-Enabled Distance-Learning Makes Education Possible for Syrian Children, 4:30 p.m. (Lightning Talk):

    How was distance learning provided and received in different urban and rural communities in Syria? What are the key enabling and inhibiting factors in the self-study program — such as the role of teachers and caregivers, as well as the socio-cultural and gender dimensions? Sevag Ohanian, monitoring, evaluation, and learning manager for the FCDO Syria Education Programme, will help participants understand the answers to these questions based on field research conducted in internally displaced persons’ camps in Syria.

    To learn more about the Global Digital Development Forum, find the full conference program here. Stay updated on all the action by following @chemonics and #GDDF2021.