Digital Development

By: Limabenla Jamir

LimaAs I write my blog post, I am four weeks into my summer internship with the World Bank. It was my desire, as someone who has spent six years doing grassroots work, to move ahead and work with a multilateral organization to get the experience from the other side of the spectrum. My time at Duke University and as a Rotary Peace Fellow further strengthened this interest and curated this next step of spending the summer here- at the World Bank!

But that’s getting ahead of myself – first let me explain.

My Work in Northeast India

I spent the last six years, prior to Duke, managing a non-profit educational foundation which I have established in Northeast India and working on projects around Youth, Peace and Security. Prior to that, I had spent four years studying psychology and the psychosocial impact of ethnopolitical conflict on the well-being of young people. Although my work was primarily focused on youth development, during my time in Northeast India, I recognized the multilayered nature of development challenges in my region and the economic, social and political causes. All of these made me passionate about international development, and I wanted to scale-up my efforts to support broader development work.

Rotary Peace Fellowship and Duke University

Beginning of fall 2018, I transitioned into international development studies, taking courses that crystallized my interest in research and policy analysis of many of our current development challenges. In this space, the World Bank commanded quite an attention – not only for the scale of the impact of its work but particularly for their mission, to reduce poverty. The World Bank is a remarkable place for development professionals who so consummately value people, passion and performance.

Guess what?! End of April, after many unsuccessful applications to different organizations, I received an email saying that I have been selected for a summer internship with the Bank!

And this is how my journey with the bank starts…

A Summer with the World Bank

World Bank

Lima at World Bank

I am part of the Digital Development unit at the World Bank that help countries take advantage of the ongoing digital revolution. Being part of the World Bank is an opportunity to participate in several of the Bank’s conferences and seminars as well as learn from cutting-edge debates and solutions to current international development challenges. Next week, for instance, I will be attending a two-day Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics.

I feel very fortunate to be working this summer at the frontlines of two projects of the Digital Development unit. Let me give you some details about what I am doing. In one of my two assignments, I work with a team that is currently designing a project that aims to support the government’s vision of technology, innovation, and export-led inclusive economic development in the beautiful country of Georgia. The country is grappling with gaps in infrastructure, including digital infrastructure. These problems are rooted in the exclusion of marginalized populations.

This raises the question as to how to ensure technology adoption, and whether there are drivers for digital exclusion that go beyond infrastructure, affordability, skills and awareness. This is where I come in. In this project, I am essentially trying to answer the following questions and put my coursework to good use while at it!

(i) What are the non-technical and non-financial barriers to accessing technology? This involves preparing an analytical framework and piloting a quantitative and qualitative survey to understand the barriers for digital inclusion

(ii) How can we determine the threshold for inclusion and minimize the errors of exclusion for our beneficiaries? The study will allow the team to develop projects that are precise and effective in targeting the population currently excluded.

At the end of June, I will be travelling with the team to Tbilisi, Georgia, for about 10 days to understand first-hand the situation and pilot the survey in a few villages. I will be leaving in two weeks and I will have share so much then. I am looking forward to sharing my experience, probably in another blog post.

Source: Digital Development, World Bank Group          Source: Digital Development, World Bank Group

I have just started working on another assignment with the unit. This activity will explore the linkages between Human Rights and Digital Development and how the World Bank can be engaged in increasing and strengthening the understanding and application of Human Rights in the World Bank’s work.

I really cannot overstate the value of the mandatory classes offered this past year as a Peace Fellow. I did not feel quite the same way when I was working on endless problem sets, numerous papers to read or the mock negotiation with people from different cultures. My current assignment here is evidence that I learned a whole lot. I have been researching and writing non-stop but have enjoyed every minute. My team has provided incredible autonomy and I have been part of the key unit meetings. The opportunity given so far and the works that are in the pipeline will allow me to contribute to the unit that will easily outlast my presence here this summer.

As I conclude this blog, I cannot help but mention how valuable the past few weeks have been. I came into this summer internship to build my experience around policy research and policy design. However, my time so far has reignited my passion to explore the intersection between Social Psychology (behaviors), Policy and Politics. I am interested in how these and more approaches can work together to make public institutions more effective and bridge the chasm between the works at the Grassroot and by the Multilateral Organizations.

Glimpses of my walk around DC

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