Author Archives: madelinelparrish

Lessons From ICT4D

I feel that the most salient lessons to be learned in ICT4D is that failure can be a learning curve and that not every society is ready or able to use ICTs in conjunction with a program’s goal. For example when implementing an app for farmers to find where to get the best market prices we, in the US, would think that’s a great idea but when its take not the field it doesn’t work. That is because those farmers have cell phones but not smart phones so they have no way to access the app. Failure is a great way to learn how to do things better the next time and I think that the unit we did on assessing the success of a project was very helpful in making the failure of a project a way to help others attempting to introduce ICT4D project. I also found the research that I did for my sector project to be very salient.

In terms of specific things that I have learned I have found the importance of research and the role of security are two things that I will specifically take away. First, on the topic of research, I learned that there are often large upfront costs related to implementing ICT4D projects. Because of these costs we spoke a lot about the importance of implementing in depth research in order to assess a community’s needs. The research aspect is also incredibly important in terms of providing the correct technologies. For example when looking to start a text message campaign in order to educate new and expecting mothers it is important to assess the literacy levels and then address how to reach those women who are illiterate. The second thing that I specifically learned was the importance security. From my research on the business and industry sector I learned about the importance of cyber security and that it’s essential to attracting foreign investment as well as facilitate international networks and transactions.

This class was very informative and I think that the lessons I spoke of above as well as the theoretical concepts of capacity building and the idea of the first mile are specific ideas that I will be able to implement ICT4D. I will be able to use these and assess other countries’ needs and look at how their national policies about ICTs can be better implemented or changed to better meet the needs of the country.

Cyber Security: Fighting Back In Uganda

In this week’s lecture by Ralph Russo and previous discussion about cyber security I was intrigued about the extent of cyber security protocols and standards that are present in Uganda. From my research on ICTs in the business and industry sector in Uganda I was aware that security for both the companies and the consumer was an issue. The above video gives a wonderful overview of the effects of cyber crime on businesses, with losses ranging in the billions of shillings (1 USD to 2,160 USH), and that NITA-U has set up a task force to create safe e-commerce networks.

NITA-U isn’t the only task force on the cyber security scene though. A February All Africa article shares that  the Computer Warehouse Group (CWG)  partnered with Symantec in order to provide security storage and management solutions to one of Africa’s fastest growing telecommunications companies. But its not just the private sector that is standing up against cyber crime. In a 2013 article from IT News Africa the Ugandan government also established a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) under the country’s Communications Commission (UCC) in order to more effectively  detect cyber crime. CERT is equipped with state of the art equipment and IT experts that will aid in the continuos and growing battle against cyber crime in conjunction with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

With the pace that technology is evolving it seems like an immeasurable feat to keep up with the high rates of cyber crime and as Ralph Russo shared with us it is important to keep connections with those entities attempting to put a stop to cyber crime. As seen in examples above Uganda is creating a firm platform, consisting of both public and private organizations, aimed to stop cyber crime and create a more secure environment for businesses to grow and thrive.

Inspiring Science Education for Girls Using Information Communication Technology: an ICT for Education Project

In Plan’s 2010 ICT Enabled Development report they focused on a number of challenges and solutions to the use of ICTs in the developing world by using profiles of numerous countries. One country they focused on was Uganda and since I am focusing on Uganda for my research I was inspired to look more into what Plan was prescribing for Uganda’s ICT development problems. Plan’s work in Uganda has centered around four main elements, including children’s participation and ICTs in education. The role of children in ICT work is something that we have discussed in class briefly under the subject of the One Laptop Per Child project but not much in a positive light. After reading about the need Plan identified in seeking greater access for children I sought to find a project that was implementing ICTs in education and having a positive impact. Plan’s report makes a note of the broad improvements of ICTs in the over all education system fore example: the numbers of trained teachers and desktop computers being introduced, but I wanted to see a project and direct application of ICTs in education.

Upon my research I found a project called, Inspiring Science Education for Girls Using Information Communication Technology. This project, founded in 2006, has three major objectives: encourage more girls into sciences, improve girls’ self-esteem and confidence, and improve performance of girls in sciences. These objectives were designed after research on the number of girls enrolled in science programs and the identification of a need to increase these numbers and the overall benefit it could have on the female and overall population. The project works to give girls access to positive mentors in the science fields through ICT camps and individual, well trained, teacher. It also works to provide an outlet to share information and projects through the organization of science fairs. Lastly it increases access to computers (over 1,000 refurbished computers have been delivered) that have networking capabilities. With these computers comes access to research tools and the formation of an online repository of learning resources . This resource is the most interesting aspect of the project and, in my opinion, a large step forward in connecting the girls in the program to past work as well as, indirectly, connecting them to each other.

-Girls at an ICT camp-

Since its inception Inspiring Science Education for Girls Using Information Communication Technology has seen ten more schools wish to participate in the program and has trained more than 100 teachers. This project can be used as a vest practices example and is inline with Plan’s ICT vision and work in Uganda. There was little evidence that spoke negatively of this project and I feel that, from my research, this project has made strides in increasing the use of ICTs in education through internet and computer access.

World Bank Project Map

This week in class we discussed more about mapping as a humanitarian and development tool and in my limited research on this subject I stumbled upon a very interesting project that the World Bank implemented in 201o that they refer to as a Mapping for Results platform. This project involved the team has analyzing more than 2,500 World Bank-financed projects and geo-coding more than 30,000 locations spanning 144 countries. This project also overlays country maps with poverty and Millennium Development Goals data, with the geographic locations of donor-funded projects, enhancing our ability to monitor development impact and improve transparency and social accountability. This information is available to anyone who goes on to the webpage, and clicks on the country or region of their choosing. In having this information about development projects available to local people the World Bank hopes to foster greater transparency and accountability by encouraging citizens and stakeholders to give feedback on projects. This tool also allows donors to map a project’s progress without contacting project managers.

The main page shows a world map with green dots that you can click on and get more information about a specific coutntry. For example Uganda’s map looks like this:

Screen shot 2013-03-21 at 4.08.52 PM
This shows all of the different projects financed by the World Bank, a total of $1.7o billion, and divides them by sector (red with white cross is health, purple is public administration, green is agriculture). You can also sort the map by looking at a base of malnutrition, infant mortality, and maternal health, and it will show the changes being made in those fields. The map can also be looked at by sector (the map above) or by count, which shows the number of projects being implemented in a region.
I found this to be very interesting and eye opening to be able to see all of the development projects being implemented in a region by one funder. This can be a great resource to people living in a region who are able to look at how and where their development needs are being meant and also for people looking to start a project can come into their research with more of an idea of how many similar projects are already underway.

IICD: Radio and the Empowerment of Women

IICD or the International Institute for Communication and Development is a nonprofit that uses technology as a development tool and a one of their recent videos shed light on a new way of using radio. This video from their YouTube page, showed the implementation of a very interesting and innovative project. It is still surprising to think that women are denied a role or voice in politics and this video was an eye opening watch as is utilized the medium or radio to help inform women and get their opinions on local political issues.  It is very innovative to think that the people would rebroadcast previous stories in order to reach more individuals and increase awareness of issues that effect them.The use of radio, or traditional media as IICD refers to it, in development it closely related to the topics we discusses in class. This project in particular adds to Mary Myers article, “Why Radio Matters: making the case for radio as a medium for development.”







Télécoms Sans Frontières

Télécoms Sans Frontières or TSF is a telecommunications  humanitarian aid organization that works in distasters areas to set up satellite-based telecoms centers that offer  broadband Internet, phone and fax lines. The need for an organization of this sort was made evident to its founders after their visits to  the former Yugoslavia and Kurdistan during the first Gulf War. They saw that large numbers of people were being displaced without any way to contact their families. With this in mind TSP was founded in July 1998, with the use of their first satellite phone, and worked almost exclusively in refugee camps providing the means for those effected to contact loved ones.  After a number of years of working face to face with individuals to help them contact other individuals they opened up their first telecommunications center open to larger actors in humanitarian aid in 2001 in northern Afghanistan.

They operate out of three international bases in Thailand, Nicaragua, and France  that monitor satallites 24/7 and can deploy teams to effected areas in a matter of hours. These teams set up telecommunication centers that provide phone lines and access to broadband internet. According to their website these telecomm centers allow people, “to send and receive information on logistics and urgent needs of the population in the early hours of a crisis” and “to strengthen coordination on the ground between local authorities, humanitarian agencies and organizations in the seats of the world.” (Translated by Google for easy reading). Their services also allow people to get personalized assistance and psychological support, facilitate family reunification and contact family abroad. 

(Woman using a TSF phone at a telecommunication station.)


 One of the characteristics of this program is to provide aid only when necessary and to to only stay until UN agencies or the local governments can set up more permeant lines of communication, which usually takes 45 days.  Since their inception they have worked in over 60 countries, 600 NGOs and numerous UN agencies and governments.

TSF works on a different platform form that of Mission 4363 in that TSF provides both the service and the tools, such as laptops to access internet and phones to place calls, while Mission 4363 utilizes the technologies already present in a community. In providing the technologies those who use TSF as a way to communicate have to count on those they are trying to reach to have access to those same technologies.  They also focus more on intracountry communication, unlike Mission 4363 that uses people from outside the effected areas to provide more information on locations and such that may not be available in the effected areas


Women and ICTs: Mahyoro Rural Information Centre’s Campaign Against Gender Based Violence

When approaching development and the use of ICTs in development it is important to keep the reality of gender at the forefront of your activities. This process of gender mainstreaming, or the conscious inclusion of how development projects effect men and women differently and how men’s and women’s needs also differ, has been the topic of discussion this week in IDT4D and there is some interesting data and gender divides present in the use of ICTs. Through the discussion of a policy paper  we were confronted with the data that proved our hypothesis that there is indeed a gender divide present in the use of ICTs in development, and in particular in the use of mobile phones. For the most part women were less inclined to own a mobile phone and that when they do own them they are often gifted and that women do not use them as often, or in the same manner as men. With this information there are a number of organizations that are trying to bridge this divide and provide women with the means and skills to use mobile phones to empower themselves. There are four organizations featured in an article  that, in 2010, received grants to implement projects that will help women in rural areas of Uganda build awareness about and learn to report domestic violence through the use of ICTs. One organization, Mahyoro Rural Information Centre (MARIC), appears to be making great strides in enhancing women’s lives through ICTs.

MARIC appears to be project under the Women of Uganda Network and it works to enhance the exchange of information and experience of ICTs through out communities in Kitagwenda. They have implemented several ICT projects since its inception in 2006. These projects include the production of puppet shows that educate about the importance of women’s rights and the use of ICTs and the Enhancing Access to Agricultural Information project. The project that they received the funding for is a more gender based ICT campaign designed to combat violence against women using ICTs. This campaign trained 34 grassroots women’s organizations use ICTs to address violence against women and girls. The training included learning to set up hotlines and use mobile phones to spread messages about events. At the end of the training 21 Community Resource Persons were given phones to implement their ideas and spread information about their program as well as information about sexual health and resources available to victims.



(Community Resource Persons receiving training)

This project seems, in theory, to be very beneficial in educating women about their rights as well as the use of ICTs, but there are many questions left unanswered. After scouring the Internet for information about the success of the project I ended empty-handed. Other than the information on the Women of Uganda Network from November 22, 2011 there is nothing. There was not information about many of the women that the project was targeting had access to mobile phones to receive the information, based on the policy paper I assume that it is not many. The lack of monitoring, or information about the monitoring, taking place also makes me wonder how the 21 Community Resource Persons were able to reach out to the women of Kitagwenda.

The Uganda Farmer, Climate change, and ICTs


Small scale cattle farmers in an 84,000 square kilometer area on southwest Uganda are the target of a new ICT development project this year called Climate Change Adaption and ICT or CHAI for short. An article in at gives the details of this exciting new project, funded by Canada’s International Development Research Center will use data collected with ICT tools by users to provide information on water and climate related risks to help combat the effects of climate change. Living in an urban environment with little connection to the environment the average person is not conscious of climate change but these farmers, who control 6o percent of Uganda’s seven million head of cattle, are very much aware of the effects of climate change.

ns_uganda cattle corridor


(map of Uganda’s Cattle Corridor)

This $600,000 project will work to build more weather stations, establish and strengthen data collection for local weather and water as well as provide users with seasonal forecasting and early warning for severe weather. This information will be collected by members of the project’s team as well as farmers who been trained. This information will be relayed through text messaging, voice messaging and radio, all in the different local languages of the users. This project will greatly stabilize the lives of those farmers who live in one of the areas of Africa most affected by climate change. According to Berhane Gebru, director of programs at US-based FHO360-Satelife, one of the implementing organizations, currently “When there is a crisis like a prolonged drought, herdsmen sell their animals as a coping strategy. We will provide them with information to cope and make choices.” This two year project hopes to counter act the economic fluctuations brought on my climate change through the introduction of data collection ICTs and broaden the use of mobile phones and radios to help relay the information.

The information gathered in this project and the technological infrastructure that will be created through this project are goals that the Ugandan Government is aiming to provide for its people. These aspects include the development of the ICT infrastructures, increasing indigenous and traditional communication and ICT training in Uganda.

Historical ICTs: Yodeling and Fire Signals


The development of the ICT industry is centered on constructing ways for individuals and societies to communicate with one another and the different ways in which they experience space and time. Although the implements of modern technology such as cellphones, computers and the internet have increased the speed at which we communicate, rapid communication over large distances and regions is by no means a new concept. This notion was presented to me by Tim Unwin in, “ICT4D: Information and Communication Technologies for Development” and intrigued me. Before reading this I had never given any thought to how individuals and societies communicated over considerable distances and so I am going to briefly explore two traditional ICTs: yodeling in the Swiss Alps and signal fires along the Great Wall of China.

When examining yodeling and fire signals as ICTs it is interesting to look at how both forms of communication worked as ways to relay information of vast distances. During the Ming Dynasty, from 1368-1644, guards on the Great Wall of China employed the use of fire signals, as an efficient was to communicate. Fire signals could send a message swiftly across the entire 6,700-kilometer long wall. These signals included different sets of patterns that signified enemies, allies and the number of people approaching.

The same complex system of communication is also seen in the communicative mode of yodeling. According to an article on the first official record of yodeling in the Swiss Alps is from 1545 and most experts agree that it was used as a way for herders, their stock and Alpine villages to communicate with one another. This mode of communication has since then become incorporated into the traditional music of the region.

These two forms of ICTs originated long before phones, broadband, or even electricity and I feel that is important to remember that people have always had the need and resources to communicate with one another. Exploring these two forms of historical communication within the confines of ICTs I am interested in learning more about how they adapt the defenition of ICTs and how new technologies have expedited the communication process.