Posted to the Ethnos Project by on July 15th, 2013

Sustainability is a central concern in a wide variety of “ICT for development” projects – from telecentres to ICT education in schools and universities and health informatics. But what is sustainability and how can it be achieved? In contrast tothe ICT fordevelopment literature, much IS literature does not emphasize sustainability, but instead has accepted the changing nature of the ICT artifact and unintended consequences of technology. Here we analyze two contrasting “ICT for development” case studies, both which ended in “unsustainability” with regards to their original aims, but which resulted in unintended consequences. We argue that sustainability is an unrealistic concept, which is difficult to operationalize, and that ICT for development literature must beopen to the kind of bricolage and improvisation that Ciborra suggests. However, we also recognize that since the majority of ICT for development projects still continue to be funded by donor agencies and multinationals, improvisation faces many practical challenges.

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