My interest in IT and development cooperation/humanitarian aid

Hello Edgeryders!

My name is Roberto Trevini Bellini, I have been suggested by a friend to join this very interesting community.

I am impressed reading the names in the panel of speakers for the event on 19/11 in Brussels, and some of the stories shared in the forum. The topic and the angle it is approached are definitely interesting for me personally and professionally, and hopefully I could bring a useful additional point of view to the discussion.

Briefly, my story: after my studies in political sciences and international relations with a focus on human rights, I started working in the field of international development cooperation and humanitarian aid. I have worked for different kinds of organisations (NGOs, Italian Development Agency, European Commission, private companies), and for the last 5 years I have been project manager and trainer/consultant for a consulting company, especially working in the area of training and skills development for the development and humanitarian community, with the European Commission being our main client.

Development cooperation, with all its flaws and contradictory features, is (or should be) fundamentally driven by the goal of fighting inequalities and eradicating poverty. However, after 70 years of international development cooperation, while some progresses have been achieved, it is evident that inequalities are still growing.

The age of the Internet has brought many new opportunities and challenges for the global fight for justice and equality. Technological advances have made knowledge, services and goods far more easily available to a bigger share of global population. However, the control over these resources is increasingly concentrated in the hands of few stakeholders (usually private corporations, and to a lesser extent public entities).

During my university studies, I followed a course about the governance of the global communication and information systems, which raised my awareness about the intimate link between how technology is designed and how much the users are (or aren’t) protagonists of the decision-making processes that impact their daily lives.

For example, I am currently involved in the design and development of an online training programme, funded by the European Commission, to develop the skills and awareness of volunteers engaging in solidarity actions in Europe. We are just starting, but it is already evident that accessibility for everyone is key for the success and usefulness of the programme, as it is the direct involvement of learners in shaping the e-learning contents and modalities.

Another example is the possibility to use geo-spatial data to provide humanitarian or development services with the direct involvement of beneficiaries.

In general, my curiosity is piqued by the possibility to develop technologies that can re-shape development policies and practices towards a needs-based approach instead of a donor-driven approach.

Besides strictly development/humanitarian aspects, I am interested in the role of technology, AI, social networks and IT tools that can empower citizens and foster democracy in an increasingly complex global society.

I look forward to meeting you in Brussels.


@rbt, thank you very much for this amazing introduction. we are happy to have you here and at the event in Brussels!

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Do you have some examples of ‘solidarity actions’ so I can better understand how you mean that term?

@johncoate The training programme I mentioned is for the European Solidarity Corps initiative of the European Commission.

There are three kinds of activities:

Individual volunteering lets young people participate in the daily work of organisations and lasts between 2 and 12 months, and in some cases, 2 weeks and up. Participants can volunteer abroad or in their country of residence for projects covering social inclusion, environment, culture, and more.
Volunteering teams are groups of 10-40 young people from at least two different countries who volunteer together for a period of between 2 weeks and 2 months. The costs of accommodation and food are covered. Participants also receive a small allowance for personal expenses.

Traineeships count as full-time work practice and last between 2 and 6 months – renewable once. They are paid for by the organisation responsible for the traineeship. Trainees develop their personal, educational, social, civic and professional skills.
Jobs are full-time and last between 3 and 12 months. They are paid for by the organisation employing the participant.
Traineeships and jobs can take place in the participant’s country of residence or abroad. If abroad, participants receive a small allowance to help them relocate and settle in a foreign country.
Participants of volunteering activities, traineeships and jobs get online linguistic support, training and mentoring. Their travel costs to and from the project venue are covered.

Solidarity projects are initiated, developed and implemented over a period of 2 to 12 months by at least five young people who want to make a positive change in their local community. Young people who want to run a solidarity project in their country of residence must register in the European Solidarity Corps portal.

You can find some examples here: Solidarity Projects | European Youth Portal

I report here one of them:

Paranduskohvik – a repair café in Estonia

The main purpose for the repair café is to make people aware of the negative environmental impacts of the consumer society and to encourage them to maintain the environment. It takes place in a community based makerspace (an open workshop) that provides all neccesary tools that may be needed for fixing all sorts of appliances. People are invited to bring their broken things and together with volunteers try to fix them.

What is relevant to the 19/11 event is the way we are designing and developing the on-line training programme, by involving directly a Youth Panel in reviewing our draft programme.


@noemi, is this repair cafe relevant for you/ do you happen to know people that might be interested in it? In connection to this: Living greener as therapy: how I stumbled upon plasticless, trees and diy protein