Grunfeld, Helena; Tara Pin and Dara Seng (2010). "Challenges in operationalising the Capability Approach for evaluating the contribution of the Cambodian ICT4D project, iREACH, to capabilities, empowerment and sustainability" Paper presented at the 7th annual conference of the HDCA, 21-23 September 2010, Amman, Jordan.

This paper explores whether and how the Cambodian information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) project, iREACH, has contributed to capabilities, empowerment and sustainability (CES) by summarising the two initial waves of a longitudinal study of this initiative. The research underpinning this paper tested the “CES virtuous spiral framework”, a research framework informed by the capability approach (CA). Other key features of the framework is that it considers the micro-, meso-, and macro- levels in understanding the role ICT can play in the development process, takes a longitudinal perspective, and requires a participatory methodology. While there were strong indications that iREACH had contributed to livelihoods and other aspects of well-being in diverse ways, primarily in education, health, and farming, informants also valued the project because of its contribution to empowerment, particularly gender empowerment as well for intrinsic reasons, such as feeling part of the world in general. There were several challenges in operationalising the CA for this research and this paper summarises these, which ranged from designing the research framework in a way that would capture the essence of the CA, to obtaining data that would be relevant for the objective of the evaluation and useful for policy-makers. For example, whereas the contributions we were looking for are in the area of socio-economic impacts, many participants in the focus groups and surveys were still very fixated on just using iREACH facilities, i.e. learning how to use computers, accessing the Internet, learn Khmer and English typing.