Towards Sustainable ICTD in Bangladesh: Understanding the Program and Policy Landscape and Its Implications for CSCW and HCI

Manika Saha, Delvin Varghese, Tom Bartindale, Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed, Patrick Olivier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Historically, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) and Human-Computer Interaction for Development (HCI4D) researchers in the Global South have advocated for a community-based approach to technology design and development. However, even with this "bottom-up"emphasis, the sustainability and scalability of the resulting innovations remain major challenges, and are poorly understood. To address this gap, we take the case of Bangladesh as a typical Global South context in which development work is carried out by a complex intertwined network of stakeholders across governments, NGOs, donors, and industries. To better understand the current development landscape and its priorities for digital technologies, we conducted interviews with 14 influential decision-makers in Bangladesh who play significant roles in the development of nutrition strategies. Our findings highlight a disconnect between the Bangladesh government's "digital mandate"and the reality of digital innovation practice within the nutrition development sector. Our paper contributes to the debate on factors that affect decision-making processes. We explore the dynamics of diverse actors and institutions who are intended to participate in, but can act as obstacles to sustained bottom-up innovations. Our findings expand understanding of institutional priorities, the dynamics of intermediaries, techno-solutionism, postcolonialism, bureaucracy, competition, and other important topics in CSCW scholarship. We suggest understanding the factors that guide the decision-making process of digital innovation practices in terms of four dimensions: internal, external, vertical, and horizontal. Consequently, we recommend CSCW and HCI researchers become mediators to connect decision-makers and communities and bring their voices in ICT innovations for global development. Finally, we offer recommendations for proactive engagement with decision-making stakeholders, enabling researchers to design community-centered sustainable digital innovations for development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Cite this