Photo of Ben Ramalingam, Digital cluster research fellow

Ben Ramalingam - Research Fellow/Digital Cluster Leader

Digital and Technology
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Deborah West

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Ben Ramalingam is a researcher, author, advisor and facilitator focusing on global development and humanitarian issues. Currently Leader of the Digital & Technology Cluster at IDS, his research agenda includes economy and inequality; government and service delivery; citizenship, activism and rights; sustainability, resilience and humanitarianism; and digital practices, tools and methods.

He previously served as Head of Research and Development at ALNAP, a unique multi-stakeholder network for aid effectiveness, performance and learning. Prior to this, he led the Knowledge and Learning research programme at the Overseas Development Institute, and was Deputy Director of the Humanitarian Futures Programme based at Kings College London. He has also worked in strategy consulting and investment banking.

Working at the interface of research, policy and practice, he has written and worked extensively on development and humanitarian issues ranging from climate change, urbanisation, food prices and economic development to humanitarian crises, health systems and environmental sustainability. He works with and advises many international agencies including the United Nations, World Bank, NGOs, national and regional governments and businesses.

Ben co-founded and is Chair of the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, the first dedicated fund for new ideas and approaches in international disaster responses. This work has been featured in Wired Magazine.

Ben is also a fellow at the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

His 2013 book Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Rethinking International Cooperation in a Compex World (published by Oxford University Press) has been widely cited and received positive acclaim from across development experts and the media. It explores how ideas from the cutting-edge of science can help aid become more relevant, innovative and catalytic.

The Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) identifies and supports innovations that have the potential to create social impact in education, health and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) across Tanzania.

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This six month collaboration between the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's InnovationXchange (iXc) and the Digital and Technology cluster will strengthen DFAT’s capability to appropriately use technology to more effectively deliver aid outcomes, building on its existing expertise and experience.

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The project will focus on the growing importance of real-time data and in particular how digital tools can be used to generate information in support of more adaptive, contextually relevant, decision-making and programme management and implementation

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The next World Social Science Report due to be published in 2016 will focus on the critical contemporary issues of inequalities and justice.

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This is the cover to IDS Bulletin 46.1, 'Towards Systemic Approaches to Evaluation and Impact'.

Towards Systemic Approaches to Evaluation and Impact

IDS Bulletin 46.1 (2015)

This IDS Bulletin explores new frontiers in international development evaluation, making a useful contribution to an ongoing debate about how to assess effects and effectiveness without ignoring the complexity of the contemporary development landscape. More details


The Contribution of Digital Technologies to Service Delivery: An Evidence Review

IDS Evidence Report 221 (2017)

The explosion in digital connectivity, globalisation and the rapid growth in digital technologies over the last two decades has revolutionised the way that businesses perform and compete globally. More details

This is the front cover to the book, 'The Social Realities of Knowledge for Development: Sharing Lessons of Improving Development Processes with Evidence'.

The Social Realities of Knowledge for Development: Sharing Lessons of Improving Development Processes with Evidence

This edited collection of peer-reviewed papers explores critical challenges faced by organisations and individuals involved in evidence-informed development through a diverse set of case studies and think-pieces. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Doing Digital Development Differently: lessons in adaptive management from technology for governance initiatives in Kenya

Development projects don’t always work as planned. This has long been acknowledged by those in the sector, and has led to several approaches that seek to solve complex development problems through enabling and encouraging greater adaptiveness and learning within projects (e.g. Doing Development Differently and Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation). More details

Front cover for 'Ten Frontier Technologies for International Development'

Ten Frontier Technologies for International Development

As new technologies and digital business models reshape economies and disrupt incumbencies, interest has surged in the potential of novel frontier technologies to also contribute to positive changes in international development and humanitarian contexts. More details