Tag Archives: bangladesh

Bangladesh ICT4D Resources

National ICT Policy:

National ICT Policy – 2009

Language: English

Year: 2009

Published by: Ministry of Science and Information & Communication Technology

 

Government Websites:

Ministry of Science and Technology

Language: English & Bangla

Ministry of Posts, Telecommunication, and Information Technology – ICT Division

Language: English

 

Case Study:

English in Action

Date: 2008 – 2017

Agency: Governments of Bangladesh & UK

 

External Resources:

ICT4E in India and South Asia: Bangladesh Country Report

Author: infoDev

Language: English

 

It was not particularly difficult finding resources, though it was definitely easier to find government resources.

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Rural Telecenters- What Works, And What Doesn’t?

In Richard Heek’s ICT4D Manifesto, he describes how rural telecenters became “the archetype” of the ICT4D 1.0 movement of the 1990’s and 2000’s. Tried and proven successful in North America and Europe in the 80’s, they were attractive to the West for multiple reasons: they were simple to install, they directly delivered services to the poor, and they were tangible projects in poverty-stricken communities. Yet Heeks is quick to point out that they were inherently flawed from their inception. They were unsustainable over the long term, as they fell into disrepair and qualified maintenance professionals were hard to find. They had limited reach, as they were only accessible to those in walking distance and could not be used by many in the community. Finally, monitoring and evaluation were overlooked, and those stories that were successful were over emphasized to the detriment of those telecenters that did not find the same outcome. Given these systematic failures Heek’s description of ICT4D 2.0 leaves rural telecenters out entirely as he strives to detail projects that are less inherently flawed.

During a search of Heek’s manifesto bibliography, I was led to an publication that offered an alternative to a localized rural telecenters. The newsletter, published by a id21.org, described a project known as “Mobile Ladies” that is active in rural Bangladesh. In 2004 in Dhaka, the Development Research Network established a Rural Information Helpline that linked rural villagers to internet- connected responders to which they could give “common livelihood” queries. However, as 20% of the country still did not have mobile telephone coverage, millions of people could not access the Helpline. Thus ‘Mobile Ladies’ was formed, an initiative that employs village women by giving them a special cell phone so that they can listen to their neighbor’s issues and advise them on possible solutions within several days. According to id21, over 1/2 of the cases are health- related, and other inquires are related to agriculture, human rights issues (including legal advice in cases of rape, physical assault, or dowries), and education. Statistics reveal that 80% of those served are satisfied with the information they receive, 36% of the beneficiaries are housewives, and 89,000 women could potentially be employed by the project. Mobile Ladies also upholds a ‘no exclusion’ policy so that every villager can access the telecenter regardless of their caste, literacy, gender, or physical status, a vital approach in communities where many are marginalized on the basis of these characteristics.

Case studies from Bangladesh offer personal accounts of how Mobile Ladies has provided villagers with vital information that they otherwise would have been unable to obtain. The project has its flaws, however. It is expensive, and it is difficult to monitor the Mobile ladies themselves. Information can be lost in translation, and it is hard for the poor to turn it into action when they lack even the most basic of resources. However, with research I found that Mobile Ladies has adapted to changing trends in technology by offering social media and skype connections to their clients, revealing how the project is making strides towards sustainability as the first world innovations widen the digital gap. Mobile Ladies does not improve infrastructure or establish the backwards linkages and processes Heeks calls for in his manifesto, but its ability to acquaint rural villagers with modern technology and to provide hundreds of women with pay checks makes it an intriguing developmental tactic. Mobile Ladies provides a buffer against the widening gap as Bangladesh tries to catch up and ensures that some of their poorest citizens are able to benefit from ICT.


Vision Bangladesh 2021

Bangladesh will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence in 2021. Currently, the country is one of the poorest in the world, with its exceptionally high population density and vulnerability to flooding and other disasters. Around a third of the population is living below the poverty line and there are huge divides between the urban and rural areas. In 2006, the government published what it hopes the state of the country will be by 2021, Vision 2021. These goals are largely in line with the MDGs, including things like poverty eradication, improvements in health and education, increases in accountability/transparency, and better business practices. A large part of this vision focuses on the adoption of technology to achieve the stated goals. They hope to see ICTs integrated into health, education, businesses, etc. This blogger points out that Bangladesh needs to fully adopt ICTs and become a “Digital Bangladesh” because societies only develop through the creation of knowledge.

As I researched statistics about Bangladesh’s ICT usage, I quickly learned that Vision 2021 is unlikely to become a reality. Internet penetration rates are below 10% and less than 5% of households own a computer at this time. It’s good that the government realized that adopting ICTs would be beneficial to the country’s development. It’s important that technology’s potential in boosting living standards is recognized. However, without the proper social and political will, this cannot be achieved. The goals set out in Vision 2021 are lofty; it would be better to start small, set more achievable benchmarks, and work both at the government and grassroots levels.


Case Study: Bangladesh. An impressive plan for disaster risk reduction using ICTs

Bangladesh is very vulnerable to natural disasters like floods, river erosion, tidal surges, tropical cyclones, and earthquakes due to the vast network of rivers and channels, the geographic location of the country, and the monsoon climate. Over the past 30 years, frequent natural disasters in Bangladesh have taken the lives of thousands of people and cost the country millions of dollars in damage. About 200,000 people are displaced each year due to river erosion alone. In order to prevent more tragedy in the future, Bangladesh has put much effort into developing effective “early warning systems” for disaster management and prevention.

Under their National ICT Policy, the following action agendas have been identified for disaster management:

–       Protect citizens from natural disasters through ICT-based disaster warning and management technologies

i. Utilize remote sensing technologies for disaster management and mitigation.

ii. Web-based environmental clearance certification system

iii. Promote cell phone/SMS-based disaster warning systems targeted to the population likely to be affected

iv. Utilize Geographic Information System (GIS)-based systems to monitor flood and cyclone shelters (including equitable distribution in vulnerable areas)

v. Promote efficient relief management and post-disaster activities monitoring

–       Utilize GIS-based systems to ensure equitable distribution of relief goods with special focus on the hard-to-reach areas (Halder & Ahmed, p. 55)

The Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme (CDMP) is leading the charge on these initiatives, in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh and over 100 technical and academic institutions and NGOs at all levels. Their main goal is to strengthen the disaster management system in Bangladesh, but more importantly to focus more heavily on risk reduction (largely through technical assistance) via community risk assessments and mapping, earthquake and tsunami storm surge mapping etc. The National Disaster Management Information Centre (DMIC) has been a key instrument for the CDMP. Together, they produced a very specific list of DMIC information products and media suited to support their disaster management objectives. (It was created based on the CDMP-DMIC needs assessment survey report, so it takes into consideration local ICT profiles, and penetration rates, and individual’s preferences).

Image

(Halder & Ahmed p. 64)

Today, “The DMIC generates time-sensitive information items such as early warnings, situation reports and other real-time data, and presents them in information products delivered through communication channels that cause the least delay, and are consistent with the capacity of users to receive and comprehend them.” (p. 67). One way in which they are acting today is through an alert subscription system which allows individuals to receive early warning messages via email, SMS, or fax. Messages are even tailored to the subscriber’s specific location and local hazard concerns. The work that Bangladesh is doing to re-vamp their disaster management and prevention program is impressive, and their commitment to using ICTs to achieve their goals is paying off.

For more information on this case study (p. 52- 74) and others, click here.


Bangladesh National ICT Policy

National ICT Policies

  • National ICT Policy 2008
    • Last updated: September 2008
    • Created by: The Bangladesh Computer Council
    • Language: English
  • National ICT Policy 2002
    • Last updated: October 2002
    • Created by: The Ministry of Science and Information Communication Technology Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
    • Language: English

Government Websites

External Resources

Accessing information about Bangladesh’s ICT Policies were incredibly easy. The country’s devotion to harnessing ICTs for development allows for openness in their policies.


Electronic Birth Registration in Bangladesh

E-government projects have a success rate of only 15%. Thus far, these development initiatives have been Imagechallenging to implement in countries that lack ICT infrastructure and overall stability. One of the rare successes was a project in the Rajshahi City Corporation,the fourth largest city in the country, that allowed for birth records to be added electronically making them much easier to access and more uniform. The birth records then not only served as identification but could also be used by other departments to possibly record immunizations or school enrollment.

The direct cost of implementing this system was 20,000 US dollars, with only a 200 per month fee to maintain the system. There was improvements in both enrollment and vaccinations after the program, as well as a reduction in statistical errors based on registration. The new system is much more organized and efficient and a great example of how just a small project can have last effects.

The factors that allowed for this project to be a success seem to be its small nature, many projects are too ambitious and wind up failing because of this. The project also was simple, but effected many areas, which allowed it to have growing returns. It is easy to maintain and also easy to replicated. It does not require teaching of technologies except to a very few data entry personnel and requires no great shift in organization which makes it easy to understand. More egoverment projects like these will lead to more efficient government.

case study by Moshtaq Ahmed


Text4Health Global Problems

This PBS article discusses the challenges involved with text messaging programs designed to spread health information in developing countries. Many of the problems discussed are issues that we have brought up in class.

Some of the problems include:

  • The difficulty of charging cell phones in isolated areas.
  • Is the information provided relavent and useful?
  • Will people follow the advice given in text messages?
  • How will cultural differences across countries affect how people respond to the text messages?
  • Early data did not look at whether or not text messages actually cause behavior change.
  • Governments need to be on board for large scale projects.

This article discusses several ways mhealth can be utilized in the developing world. In India and South Africa, text messages are being used to give pregnant women advice during each stage of pregnancy. In Bangladesh, text messages are being used to inform parents about when to vaccinate their children. Even in the United States mhealth is being used for smoking cesation programs.

We discussed other issues in class that the article did not include. For example, would text messages be too expensive for some people? Does everyone with a phone know how to send texts? How can you encourage people to sign up for the text messages? How can you make sure information is clear and relevant and that people will actually read the texts? These are all problems that future mhealth programs must address.