Some fear that robots and AI will one day take away human jobs, while some remain positive about the bright prospect of having these enhanced tools in the future. In the area of humanitarian and community development work, emerging technologies including AI, drones, GPS mapping and more, have brought nothing but valuable and affordable solutions to help societies in need.
We are happy to announce that Dr Valentine Gandhi, a Senior Project Manager, Social Scientist, Development Economist, Policy Advisor (and more!) is joining us at TECHX Asia this September. With over 15 years of interdisciplinary experience and highly trained in ICT development and capacity building, Valentine Gandhi works closely with national and international research & academic institutions, UN agencies, NGOs, Social Enterprises, Donors and Governments across the globe. Recently working at Zambia with USAID, and now involved in 2 projects at Kenya and Indonesia to help rural farmers to use drones in precision farming and capacity building, he is the person who you should speak with if you want to learn more about using technology for good.
Prior to the conference, we had the chance to ask Gandhi some questions for a quick preview on what he will share at TECHX in Singapore this 6-7 September.
Q: What inspired you and keeps you going to focus your time in helping communities, and working with developing countries to build and develop communities?
Gandhi: I was an IT programmer 15 years ago and a chance meeting of a migrant worker being abused in a train journey for not having 3 Rupees broke the bubble I was living in and made me aware of the sufferings and struggles of people around me, to access even necessities that we often take for granted. Since then on I left the IT sector and moved to the Human Development Sector. It is here I truly found my calling and I have travelled to over 66 countries and lived in 12, and every day I meet people from all walks of life and understand what it is to be truly human and the issues we face are almost mysterious sometimes and when we approach it with the zeal of a detective like Sherlock Holmes, we can take fascination in what we do as we solve world’s problems, be it at a micro level or at the macro level. This is what keeps me going.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you face in your humanitarian development work?
Gandhi: Our work has a lot of challenges given the dynamic nature of the work itself, however since this is TECHX conference, let me focus on the issue of technological reach and infrastructure. Technology is of immense use in our field, as Human development is not restricted to one sector, by its nature its very cross cutting, it can be agriculture, health care, disaster relief, refugee crisis or even conflict areas, and much more. Technology helps us bring these sectors together, reach areas faster, communicate better and provide evidence based interventions at the appropriate time, however despite the advancements, there are two major challenges, one is the lack of training of folks, particularly those in the field on technology, and secondly lack of technology itself, or even an infrastructure for it it many regions across the globe, and sadly often in places where its most needed. While it has improved over the last few decades, still a lot needs to be done, bridging this divide has been one of my life goals.
Q: How and what technology which you find it most handy in your work?
Gandhi: I largely use technology that can improve livelihoods, particularly agriculture based such as solar, or drones, or even irrigation technology. I also use ICT for D for evaluation of projects, data collection, storage and dissemination which is crucial for our work.
Q: What is your advice to young, passionate generation who wish to follow your career path?
Gandhi: Development work in general is very tough as we deal with real world issues that are emotional, heartbreaking and difficult to manage, given that human nature is dynamic and we cannot have a ‘controlled’ environment, It requires personal transformation and a sense of ‘calling’ if you will, but if we are passionate about the work and immerse our selves in what we do without consideration for reward then you can truly transform others around you and have the greatest impact than any other profession out there. So, if you are a young person and is passionate about changing yourself first without fitting into any jargons or labels, then Development work is right for you as you can truly grow daily.
Want to find out more? Join us at TECHX in Singapore this Septmeber. Contact me to find out more how to get involved- firstname.lastname@example.org