Since the beginning of this millennium, there has been growing recognition around the world that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can play a big role in socio-economic development. For this reason, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) in partnership with World Summit Awards launched the Manthan Awards in October 2004 to supplement this effort to identify, reward and give recognition to significant contributions in the field of ICT interventions for development (ICT4D).
In 2016, Manthan Award enters into its 13th year of successful interventions. BRAC got inspired looking at the values and impact of the award as a partner and thus an award focused solely on Bangladesh was launched. It is notable that every year Manthan Award has been receiving many good nominations from Bangladesh.
Therefore, in view of the above points’ BRAC, in association with Digital Empowerment Foundation, is poised to launch a separate entity called BRAC Manthan Digital Innovation Award (BMDIA) to recognise digital innovations in Bangladesh. The award will focus exclusively for Bangladesh in order to encourage more grassroots ICT innovators to participate and present their innovation and get a chance to be recognised at the national and international level.
The Grand Jury for the BRAC Manthan Digital Innovation Award 2016 was successfully held at BRAC Centre for Development Management (BCDM) Rajendrapur, Gazipur, Bangladesh on 19 August 2016. This year 113 nominations across 9 categories were received, of which 90 were valid. The virtual jury members filtered 49 valid entries for the final evaluation by the Grand Jury. A panel of 11 jury members looked into the filtered nominations, divided into 9 categories, as per their expertise. The Grand Jury picked out of 29 finalists who have done exceptional work in their respective fields. The jury considered and discussed all the shortlisted nominations in all the categories. After discussion and joint voting system, the Grand Jury selected Winners, Special Mentions & Jurors Mentions of BRAC Manthan Digital Innovation Award 2016 which will be announced during the BMDIA Awards Gala to be held in the 8th October, 2016.
One of the finalists is, ‘Training In A Tab’ project. On March 16, 2016, we have featured this, first of its kind tablet based disaster preparedness training programme, which was administered by the UK based educationalist Syed Ali Tarek. His four-year-old project which aimed to reach to the neediest population which requires to build awareness of disasters and be able to take better decisions in the pre-disaster stressful context went to even further locations this year. This project has already got praised by various international development agencies. With frequent earthquakes in our country alongside flood and cyclones, there is no better time to learn about disaster preparedness. This project which is already known in the international arena deserves to get a national recognition.
We have contacted Tarek to ask a few questions:
Interviewer: How do you feel to be a finalist?
Tarek: This is an absolute pleasure. I worked over the last four years to create something useful for the people who get very little chance to get institutionalised training of any sort. This is a huge undertaking. BRAC has done an exemplary step to nationally recognise ICT projects that aims to change people’s lives. I believe BRAC is a global brand, and this award will carry not just national but international value.
Interviewer: How is the project funded?
Tarek: At the moment, the project is self-funded. However, soon I will evaluate funded opportunities to magnify the scale of the work currently completed.
Interviewer: What is your future plan for the project?
Tarek: Well, this research was part of my PhD research. However, I have plans beyond my PhD. This project has a good potential to reach more locations. I have enquiries from few other locations in Bangladesh. I have to take it to those locations. I am also looking for international collaborations. I will be also interested to collaborate with the leading NGOs in Bangladesh to take this project further. At the end, my aim is to reach to as many people as possible.
Interviewer: Where are you participating next?
Tarek: I am presenting my project in the ALT Annual Conference 2016, organised by the University of Warwick, UK to be in the 6-8th September. Exactly, a month before the BMDIA 2016 Gala event.
Interviewer: I wish you all the best in the finale.
Tarek: Thanks so much. I am looking forward to the event.