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  • Open Access
  • © 2023

Introduction to Development Engineering

A Framework with Applications from the Field

  • Presents the first introduction to the emerging field of Development Engineering

  • Demonstrates how to innovate for low-resource communities using case studies in key sectors

  • Defines a process for identifying appropriate questions and approaches for R&D in developing economies

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  • ISBN: 978-3-030-86064-6
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Table of contents (23 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxi
  2. Introduction to Development Engineering

    • Anustubh Agnihotri, Temina Madon, Ashok J. Gadgil
    Pages 1-15Open Access
  3. Technology and Development

    • Menna Bishop, Robin Burgess, Céline Zipfel
    Pages 17-57Open Access
  4. A Practical Framework for Research

    • Temina Madon, Anustubh Agnihotri, Ashok J. Gadgil
    Pages 59-81Open Access
  5. Asking the “Right” Questions

    • Temina Madon, Kentaro Toyama
    Pages 83-98Open Access
  6. Part I: Expanding Access to Affordable and Reliable Energy, While Minimizing the Environmental Impacts

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 99-100
    2. Expanding Access to Electricity in Kenya

      • Kenneth Lee
      Pages 101-128Open Access
    3. Measuring Grid Reliability in Ghana

      • Noah Klugman, Joshua Adkins, Susanna Berkouwer, Kwame Abrokwah, Matthew Podolsky, Pat Pannuto et al.
      Pages 129-159Open Access
    4. Monitoring Industrial Pollution in India

      • Anant Sudarshan
      Pages 161-182Open Access
  7. Part II: Market Performance: Technologies to Improve Agricultural Market Performance

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 183-186
    2. Digital Agricultural Extension for Development

      • Raissa Fabregas, Tomoko Harigaya, Michael Kremer, Ravindra Ramrattan
      Pages 187-219Open Access
    3. Digital Trading and Market Platforms: Ghana Case Study

      • Keren Neza, Yaw Nyarko, Angela Orozco
      Pages 221-245Open Access
    4. Fintech for Rural Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa

      • Jenny C. Aker
      Pages 247-264Open Access
  8. Part III: Expanding Human Potential: Technology-Based Solutions for Education and Labor

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 265-267
    2. Customised E-Learning Platforms

      • Nicola Pitchford
      Pages 269-292Open Access
    3. Digital Networking and the Case of Youth Unemployment in South Africa

      • Patrick Shaw, Laurel Wheeler
      Pages 293-321Open Access
    4. Amplifying Worker Voice with Technology and Organizational Incentives

      • Achyuta Adhvaryu, Smit Gade, Piyush Gandhi, Lavanya Garg, Mansi Kabra, Ankita Nanda et al.
      Pages 323-353Open Access
  9. Part IV: Water, Health, and Sanitation

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 355-358
    2. Stopping Arsenic Poisoning in India

      • Ashok J. Gadgil, Susan Amrose, Dana Hernandez
      Pages 359-398Open Access

About this book

This open access textbook introduces the emerging field of Development Engineering and its constituent theories, methods, and applications. It is both a teaching text for students and a resource for researchers and practitioners engaged in the design and scaling of technologies for low-resource communities. The scope is broad, ranging from the development of mobile applications for low-literacy users to hardware and software solutions for providing electricity and water in remote settings. It is also highly interdisciplinary, drawing on methods and theory from the social sciences as well as engineering and the natural sciences.

The opening section reviews the history of “technology-for-development” research, and presents a framework that formalizes this body of work and begins its transformation into an academic discipline. It identifies common challenges in development and explains the book’s iterative approach of “innovation, implementation, evaluation, adaptation.” Each of the next six thematic sections focuses on a different sector: energy and environment; market performance; education and labor; water, sanitation and health; digital governance; and connectivity. These thematic sections contain case studies from landmark research that directly integrates engineering innovation with technically rigorous methods from the social sciences. Each case study describes the design, evaluation, and/or scaling of a technology in the field and follows a single form, with common elements and discussion questions, to create continuity and pedagogical consistency. Together, they highlight successful solutions to development challenges, while also analyzing the rarely discussed failures. The book concludes by reiterating the core principles of development engineering illustrated in the case studies, highlighting common challenges that engineers and scientists will face in designing technology interventions that sustainably accelerate economic development.

Development Engineering provides, for the first time, a coherent intellectual framework for attacking the challenges of poverty and global climate change through the design of better technologies. It offers the rigorous discipline needed to channel the energy of a new generation of scientists and engineers toward advancing social justice and improved living conditions in low-resource communities around the world.


  • technology for development
  • technology intervention
  • engineering innovation
  • social innovation
  • social entrepreneurship
  • global engineering
  • anti-poverty technologies
  • humanitarian engineering
  • information and communication technology for development
  • development studies
  • sustainable engineering
  • international development studies
  • Open Access

Editors and Affiliations

  • Center for Effective Global Action, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, USA

    Temina Madon

  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, USA

    Ashok J. Gadgil

  • Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

    Richard Anderson

  • Department of Economics, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

    Lorenzo Casaburi

  • Chief Research and Evaluation Officer, The Pharo Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya

    Kenneth Lee

  • Department of Economics, University of California, Davis, Davis, USA

    Arman Rezaee

About the editors

Temina Madon is on the Professional Faculty of the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business and a member of South Park Commons, where she advises early-stage startups. Previously she led business development at machine learning startup Atlas AI. Earlier, Madon was the founding executive director of the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), a global research network focused on human and economic development, with headquarters at UC Berkeley. In this role, she managed the Development Impact Lab, a USAID-funded consortium of universities advancing the field of "development engineering".  Madon worked with Ashok Gadgil to conceptualize a framework for this book and recruit contributors. Madon began her career in science and technology policy, working first in the U.S. Senate (as a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow) and later at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). She holds a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in computational neuroscience and a B.S. from MIT. 

Ashok Gadgil is a Faculty Senior Scientist and former Director of the Energy and Environmental Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of California, Berkeley. Since 2012, Gadgil is the Faculty Director a large multi-campus, multi-disciplinary USAID-funded project, Development Impact Lab, with headquarters at UC Berkeley. Since 2006 he has taught graduate courses at UC Berkeley on inventing, implementing, and scaling up technologies for development. His research and technology inventions have been recognized with several significant awards and honors. Along with Dr. Temina Madon, Gadgil led the conceptualizing this book, shaping its content, framework, and selection of chapter authors. Gadgil holds a Ph.D. in physics from UC Berkeley and an M.Sc. in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

Richard Anderson is a Professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. His research interest is in Computing for the Developing World, with work spanning educational technology, mobile data management tools, global health information systems; and digital financial services. He has conducted research at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, the Indian Institute of Science, Microsoft Research, and PATH, a Seattle based NGO working on health technologies for low resource environments. He has been recognized with the NSF Presidential Young Investigator award the University of Washington College of Engineering Faculty Innovator for Teaching Award and the 2020 ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics. Previously, he worked in the theory and implementation of algorithms, including parallel algorithms, computational geometry, and scientific applications. He graduated with a B.A. in Mathematics from Reed College and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University.

Lorenzo Casaburi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich. His main line of research focuses on agricultural markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on market structure, behavioral insights, and agricultural finance. His research has received funding from the European Research Council, the Swiss National Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, UK Aid, and others. He is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research and Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development, and a Research Affiliate at the International Growth Centre, Innovations for Poverty Action, and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. Lorenzo holds a B.A. from the University of Bologna and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard. Before joining the University of Zurich, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.

Ken Lee is the Chief Research and Evaluation Officer of The Pharo Foundation. He researches questions in the areas of development economics, environmental and energy economics, and environmental health. He has designed and published field experiments in both Kenya and India. Previously, he was the Director of the Air Quality Life Index and a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago. Prior to this, he was the Executive Director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) in India. He also held Research Fellow positions at the Center for Effective Global Action and the Energy Institute at Haas. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley; a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University, and a Bachelors from McGill University. Earlier in his career, he worked as an investment banker in Toronto and London, covering media and telecoms companies in Africa, Europe, and Canada.

Arman Rezaee is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of California, Davis. His research focuses on intersections of service delivery, political economy and technology. He makes use of large-scale field experiments that leverage cellular technology, as well as natural experiments using historical archival data. Much of his work focuses on Pakistan. He also has active projects in Uganda and the Philippines. His work has been supported by the the Center for Effective Global Action, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Growth Centre, the Abu Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, the Policy Design Evaluation Lab, Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries, and the University of California Labs. Before obtaining his Ph.D. in economics from UC San Diego, he earned his Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he was a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow.

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-86064-6
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Free shipping worldwide
    See shipping information.
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout