Katine project shows development and its beneficiaries

But the Katine project is more than just a fundraising push. On our dedicated Katine website you will get the chance to find out how the money is spent, how development works (the successes and the failures) and how the lives of the sub-county’s 25,000 inhabitants have changed.

— via guardian.co.uk

There’s about six months left of the Guardian’s three-year, £2.5m project to help development work in Katine, a rural sub-county of north-east Uganda. The project includes extensive reporting on progress in education, health, water, governance and livelihoods.

It’s also pioneering the use of the internet in a development project.

Schoolkids in Katine have been taught how to blog. Residents comment on project blog posts. It’s an interesting model for connective storytelling, different from the way that, say, Kiva collects stories from its borrowers. In Katine, individuals are getting online, commenting directly – which is possible because of the project’s training and internet center. (Kiva relies on professional interviewers to collect their borrowers’ stories.) There have been occasional tensions “introducing people with no experience of the net to a global conversation,” and the Guardian has been quite open about them.

The African Medical and Research Foundation designed and is carrying out the project. The project’s mid-term review and other reports are available online, as is Amref’s proposal to continue the project for a fourth year.

Great to see this level of transparency around a large development project. One challenge has been showing results. The project’s mid-term review makes it clear that, while goals are being met, it’s too soon to judge long-term impact.

In the meantime, the Guardian’s spotlight on the project has created challenges for the folks on the ground. The mid-term report notes:

  1. The many visitors to the Project has put the Team under some strain by taking up 10 percent (lowest estimate) of its working time.

Kudos to the Guardian for trying this, and for making Katine so prominent in their iPhone app.