• Areas of Expertise

    T4D: Technology for Development

ICT4D — It may sound like the name of a Star Wars character, but it really stands for what has become a powerful set of tools to counter global poverty and spur development.

Across the developing world, Lutheran World Relief is harnessing the growing accessibility of smartphones and other devices to embrace new, effective ways to reduce poverty and spur sustainable development through ICT4D  – shorthand for Information and Communications Technology for Development  – or as it is increasingly known, simply as T4D, Technology for Development.

What is T4D?

Integrating T4D with our development and emergency-response initiatives, Lutheran World Relief engages an increasing array of activities and services to improve livelihoods and well-being, such as: 

  • Mobile banking
  • Knowledge-sharing
  • Education

ICT4D, or simply T4D, as adherents are increasingly calling it, is such a powerful development tool because people in the developing world — even in the poorest, most remote rural communities — are increasingly able to access these technologies. For the smallholder farmer, a mobile phone is becoming as essential -- and as commonplace -- as the hoe. 

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Lutheran World Relief puts T4D to use to provide rapid access to information and to collect crucial data,” says Javier Wilson, LWR’s deputy director for T4D. “Instead of providing only relief aid to food-insecure subsistence farmers, for example, we provide technical know-how and create linkages along the market value chain that increase incomes for farmers, their families and their communities over the long term.

A 2015 Pew Research Center study found that two-thirds of the people surveyed in Africa reported owning a cell phone. The figure surpasses 90 percent in South Africa and Nigeria. Other research indicates that of the world’s 7 billion mobile connections, 4.5 billion are in developing countries.

Lutheran World Relief employs a wide range of T4D tools, such as utilizing mobile phones for providing agricultural extension information via text message, or using laptop computers with specialized software for data collection in the field. In partnership with the University of Maryland, we make available to small-scale farmers in East Africa geospatial satellite imagery that detects changes in soil and crop conditions. Lutheran World Relief also uses T4Ds to:

  • Share agricultural information with farmers to help them to increase agricultural productivity.
  • Access market information that enables agricultural cooperatives negotiate better crop prices.
  • Employ mobile banking that can help rural microfinance groups to access banking services or speed cash payment to disaster victims.
  • Collect vital information in disaster situations.
Javier Wilson,Deputy Director for T4D email

Our T4Ds Impact

Lutheran World Relief’s use of T4D is rapidly evolving to keep pace with the pace of technological advancement and the new applications that accompany that progress. 


In El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, Lutheran World Relief has developed an online user-friendly guide designed to help cocoa farmers, cooperatives and agricultural extension workers improve crop production and processing while also promoting inclusive growth, gender equity and social justice. The Mobile Cocoa toolkit is open source software that include 10 training modules on topics ranging from plant maintenance and post-harvest processing to fermentation and drying cacao. The Mobile Cocoa app is available for download through Google Play on Android phones and at cacaomovil.com.


In Uganda, Lutheran World Relief is using mobile phones to modernize the traditional practice of village savings and lending groups. Using mobile banking, a savings and lending group can remotely and quickly make transactions, taking advantage of banks’ security and transparency that typically isn’t accessible in remote rural areas.


In the Philippines, cacao farmers are using Kakao Konek, a text message-based app that allows them to receive responses to their questions about cacao production and nursery management. Farmers simply text keywords or questions related to cacao and they receive an automated text message with the information within minutes. A database administrator is available during business hours to respond to any questions the database cannot answer automatically.


After the devastating earthquake in Nepal, Lutheran World Relief employed Open Data Kit, an online data collection tool to develop and administer tablet-based surveys to collect baseline information on the affected communities. The tablets increased accuracy and helped shorten the process, allowing quicker and more effective rollout of emergency relief services.

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