Paying Per Diems for ICT4D Project Participation: A Sustainability Challenge

Terje Aksel Sanner, Johan Ivar Sæbø


The article highlights the contradictory role per diem payments play in swiftly attracting local participation in ICT for Development (ICT4D) projects, while undermining long-term capacity building and sustainability with such efforts. We discuss sustainability challenges endemic to ICT4D projects in light of our case study findings from a mobile phone–based intervention in a public health management information system (HMIS) in Malawi. We explore these challenges at multiple levels of analysis by drawing on the neo-institutional notion of “institutional logics.” For practitioners and policy makers, the article offers suggestions on how to counter some of the pitfalls associated with the use of per diems to incentivize ICT4D project participants. The study contributes to the institutional logics perspective by exploring empirically the intricate interdependence between two mutually reinforcing, yet seemingly incongruent institutional logics of development project impact and aid entitlement.

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