Originally posted on Blackboard by Ashley Fox
Zimbabwe’s Vice President Joice Mujuru is encouraging the use of ICTs in rural areas after “the rural communities had been marginalised as far as ICTs are concerned”. She comments how mobile phone access is now available in almost all rural areas, thanks to three major network providers establishing bases “almost everywhere”. The goal is to bring internet access to these people, which would be extremely helpful for them to compare agricultural prices before delivering produce. It is good that she also acknowledges that the internet must be available in the different indigenous languages so people will understand them. The VP also said the government is working on a program to equip primary and secondary schools with with personal computers with e-learning software. Looks like Zimbabwe’s on the right track!
Originally posted on Blackboard by Gisella Collazo
This article posted on October 4, 2011 announced that the World Bank approved $172 million to install 630,000 solar home systems. It is an additional funding to the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development Project, in which more than 300,000 such systems have already been installed since 2009 with the original financing of $130 million. Though certainly an expensive venture, this is a project which could have a huge impact in a country as poor and underserved as Bangladesh. About two-thirds of rural households don’t have access to electricity which greatly limits their access into many modern markets. Electricity is the most basic ICT needed in order to advance technologically. However, traditional landlines need to be wired through an area’s landscape and need supervision and maintenance. It is a system which has resulted to be very complicated to install in rural areas as there is no prior infrastructure in place. The solar home system, on the other hand, is completely sustainable as it does not rely on any other energy source than the ever-shining sun and it is independent from a greater connective network. I think this is a fabulous idea which could truly help Bangladesh’s overall development.
The Economist recently had a really great article about how women in northern Ghana have started using barcodes that can be read by cellphones, combined with enterprise resource planning technology from SAP, to keep track of payments for the shea nuts (the type shea butter comes from) that they collect, dry, and sell for additional income. They’ve also started receiving education, through their mobile phones, on how to produce better quality nuts and formed an union named the Star Shea Network. The system has allowed them to gain more influence in the market, and allows to leverage microfinance institutions in order to sell the shea nuts later on in the season, which earns them significantly higher prices.
Originally posted on Blackboard by Lisa Podolsky
One of the key problems of ICT Programs in underdeveloped countries is reaching beyond the technological capability of the underdeveloped communities, causing the technologies to be unsuccessful. Twenty-nine-year-old Nnaemeka Ikegwuono found a solution to this problem using radio waves to reach farmers in rural areas of Africa without cell phone service. Mr. Ikegwuono set up a radio station broadcasting agricultural tips, market price information, and financial planning skills for farmers 10 hours a day. Farmers are able to use small solar-powered hanset mobile technology to radio in questions and share their stories. With help from the new radio programming, many farmers have been able to raise their incomes from 50 cents a day to nearly 85 cents or $1 a day. I like the idea of using technology to reach rural areas, and especially the technology being usable and sustainable.
Originally posted on Blackboard by Meghan Spector
Although a few years out of date (2003), I found this article to be an interesting jumping off point for looking at ICT in rural areas. The article focused on the difficulties in disseminating information and tech through established points such as schools and looks at projects that target rural schools as dissemination points for ICT. The paper points out several case studies and while it does not go into great detail about any of them, it acts almost as a portal to looking further into each project and observing successes and failures. This seems a valuable compilation of information, in an accessible format. The extensive references are also a valuable resource for further study.
Originally posted on Blackboard by Danielle Kraus
I was excited to read about this weeks subject, because the topics relate directly to the ICT project in Tanzania that I analyzed for my second short paper. Basically the program was created to deal with poverty among rural agricultural-based communities. Many farmers in these areas had no way to access information about market prices for their crops, and were therefore being taken advantage of. The project, CROMBAU, established a internet cafe in the rural area and compiled databases full of information about the product markets. It also encouraged community development and employed children to be messengers, bringing information about crop prices to farmers who did not have access to the internet cafe. The program was really successful, and though it faced some challenges and limitations, they poverty rates in the area were decreased and the program has been used as a model in other areas.
Check out more information from here.
Originally posted on Blackboard by Tanseem Chowdhury
Microfinance has been a very popular topic in the last few years, especially after Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work in the field of microfinance. Most observers reveled at the maverick idea of alleviating poverty by providing small loans to the poor. Yunus’ work with Grameen Bank showed the revolutionary powers of microfinance with banks facing minimal defaults and women being empowered. However, in the last three years, microfinance has been confronted with a great amount of backlash, especially with the events which occurred in the Indian region of Andhra Pradesh. In Andhra Pradesh, borrowers were unable to repay microloans and the microfinance system in the country was on the verge of collapse. Observers, politicians, bankers, and economists threw scathing remarks at Dr. Yunus and the sustainability of microfinancing. However, I don’t think Dr. Yunus intended microfinance to be a profit-seeking enterprise. It should be questioned whether providing small loans at high interest rates, as was done in Andhra Pradesh, should be referred to as microfinancing as intended by Yunus.
Originally posted on Blackboard by Lana Abdulsamad
Roughly ten years ago rural areas in Colombia were facing a major issue – a lack of ICT in rural education. For example, Caldas, Colombia, a predominantly rural area of poor coffee farmers, did not have a single rural school with access to ICT at the time, a reality that was furthering the discrepancy between urban and rural education and development, and worsening the nationwide digital divide. In an attempt to address the situation a local private organization known as the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia took matters into their own hands and created an ICT initiative known as ‘Virtual Schools’. Focused on providing “free and safe access to information and knowledge in order to improve fair and equal development [of] rural communities,” ‘Virtual Schools’ had three main objectives: 1. increase access to ICT for both rural students and teachers and help develop the skills necessary for use of ICTs; 2. promote the use of the Internet for both communication with others, and for gathering information; and 3. keep the rural populace informed.
The project gained support from the local and national government, as well as private and public organizations, and since its 1997 implementation, over 1,000 teachers and 6,000,000 students use them in both urban and rural schools. The project has received international recognition for its undeniable success in achieving its goals, and is evidence of the ability of successful ICT projects to transform and improve the living situations of individuals, communities, and nations.
Originally posted on Blackboard by Jesse Seng.
Agriculture can serve as an important engine for economic growth in developing countries, yet yields in low-income countries have lagged far behind those in developed countries for decades. Jenny C. Aker argues that mobile phones may be one mechanism to increase effectiveness and efficiency for agricultural extension (delivery of information to small-scale farmers) in low-income countries. Farmers, with limited access to information sources, have not been able to take advantage of innovations in agricultural production (from seed types to information about pest control or crop rotations) and have been largely unable to increase their yields and hence incomes. An example of this approach to ICT4D in action is the Kenyan government’s National Farmers Information Service. In analyzing this approach some questions arise. Are the farmers able to call a hotline or are they only able to text? What is the cost to the farmer? Are farmers taught how to use the mobile phones and how to access the agricultural extension service? How will you measure the effectiveness of the agricultural extension program?
I recently wrote my second short paper for our ICT4D course on TRACnet, which is a tool that was implemented in Rwanda in 2005 to keep electronic records for HIV/AIDS. The tool has been very useful in ensuring that proper supplies of medicines are stocked at rural clinics so that all HIV/AIDS patients can receive continuous treatment and the possibility of developing drug resistant strains from intermittent drug use can be minimized.
This has been extremely successful because the database can be accessed by either phone or the internet. Over 80% of entries come in by phone, an important feature of the database’s success.