Using Livelihood Profiles for Assessing Context in ICT4D Research: A Case Study of Zimbabwe's Eastern Region

Sam Takavarasha, Gilford Hapanyengwi, Gabriel Kabanda


The importance of context specific ICT4D innovation has been highlighted in Information Systems research by the short-comings of a-contextual innovation. This has often been accepted without due understanding of how to develop context specific interventions. There is therefore a need for a framework that elucidates ICT4D contextualisation and guides the development of context specific interventions. This should be useful to practitioners that are constantly advised to develop context specific artefacts without any clarity of how to do so. Using evidence from Zimbabwe this paper proposes the use of livelihood profiles for identifying the livelihood issues that matter in a particular locality and Sen’s Capability Approach for assessing the opportunity freedoms to exploit the local livelihoods. This is presented as a systematic way of establishing the context under which ICT4D interventions will be deployed. The study uses focus groups under an interpretivist paradigm to investigate contextual issues in Zimbabwe Highveld Prime Communal livelihood zone. The study found a politically polarised contextual setting characterised by poor agricultural finance, ineffective crop and livestock markets, unrewarding labour markets against a good agricultural climate that is affected by cyclical droughts. As a result the study posits that ICT4D innovations for the zone must be designed to operate under these realities and limitations. 


ICT4D, Contextualism, Zimbabwe, Capability Approach, Livelihoods

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The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries.
ISSN: 1681-4835