“Information Communication Technology for Poverty Reduction”

In an article cited by Unwin in chapter 5, Gerster and Zimmerman (2003) explain how ICTs can be implemented to directly combat poverty. They start by broadly describing two methods for supplying technology: demand-driven and supply-driven approaches. In the supply approach, the focus falls on supplying technology, while (much like ICT4D 1.0) connectivity and access are largely overlooked. The demand-driven approach stresses capacity building and knowledge sharing (more akin to ICT4D 2.0). The more practical demand approach is further broken down into 4 classifications:

  • Pro-poor Growth Strategy: Focus on income generation with special consideration given to women, rural development, and pro-poor tax structures.
  • Sustainable Livelihoods Strategy: This framework puts people first by moving away from simple income creation and towards considering rural groups’ assets, constraints, and aspirations.
  • Resources & Redistribution Strategy: This strategy is based on the belief that regions with unevenly distributed assets face significantly smaller overall economic gains. As a result this strives to fairly distribute technology, particularly in the face of emergencies.
  • Rights & Empowerment Strategy: This approach attempts to give individuals a choice in their livelihood, which offers poor people the opportunity to become the “engines of development” (p. 16).

Towards the end of the article, Gerster and Zimmerman provide several case studies to demonstrate how ICTs can directly provide poverty alleviation. In a pro-poor growth strategy in Kyrgyzstan, community-based tourism (CBT) has flourished thanks in large part to internet access. The seven CBT groups have internet access, which allows communication and reservation booking options for European travelers. Through this expanded industry, tourism provides economic opportunities in this developing region. In an unrelated program in Kenya with a rights and empowerment approach, poor women were offered access to a broadcast workshop to bridge the gap between this demographic and policy makers. As a result, impoverished women now actively participate in Women’s Day and supply broadcast stations with news segments and development video clips. Due to education in video-making, ICTs provide women in Kenya with brand new economic opportunities. It’s easy to fixate on the simple passing of knowledge when examining technology spread, but this article demonstrates how knowledge, or the ICTs themselves, can offer more tangible results: income opportunities for economically marginalized groups.

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