Tag Archives: Canada

How does Farm Radio International Expand?

Farm Radio is a non-profit organization based out of Canada that works with radio broadcasters to help improve food security and certain modes of agriculture for small African farmers.  Here’s an example video of how to program works

After watching this video I understood the basics of how the Farm Radio program works to help farmers gain knowledge and information on crops and food that they would have not otherwise had in small parts of Africa.  The video did seem slightly puzzling as to who the audience was targeted towards.  It seems as though the target audience is for a very “dummed-down” English speaking individual that would be a potential donor.  If farmers in these rural parts of Africa don’t have the technology to understand information about the crops they are dealing with, then how would they be able to view this video that explains to them how Farm Radio International works in a simplistic manner. 

After looking over the Farm Radio International’s website it is shown that the organization works with a great deal of individuals across Africa.  It is great to see that the organization realizes the technological capacity that is present in Africa, with 76% of African farmers with access to a radio set and only 3% with access to Internet.  My only question here is how does Farm Radio International expand to reach a larger population in a continent in which food is so scarce.

 Here’s the link to their website: http://www.farmradio.org/

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 scidev.net 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.


ICT4D Professional Profile: Noble Kelly

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“You don’t need our permission to make a difference. It’s up to you!” -EBB

Noble Kelly is a thought leader in the ICT4D sector of education who has done extensive work in Canada and Africa.  Kelly entered the education field in 1991 as a high school teacher and later earned a post-baccalaureate degree in Education Technology.  Over time, he has become increasingly involved in advocacy, policy development and capacity-building, which is reflected in his non-profit NGO called Education Beyond Borders (EBB).

EBB, founded in 2007, sets out to close the achievement gap “…through teacher professional development and community education,” focusing on “…self-reliance, health, and capacity.”  According to EBB, “If the key to economic development and our young people’s future is education, then teachers should have resources, tools, and access to the Internet, as well as each other.”  Well aware that “Information and communication technologies are drivers of globalization and hold enormous potential for access to free content and the training of in-demand skills, but their rapid development runs the risk of further widening the digital divide as developing regions struggle to get connected,” Kelly ensures that his organization strives to avoid the latter situation.  Kelly’s appreciation for ICTs is also evidenced by his praise of the use of mobile technologies “…to support the work that we are doing in the field,” as “Isolation can be a huge detriment, or a huge obstacle, to much of our work.”

Though Kelly is busy with EBB, he has also been a teacher trainer and mentor through the Teaching and Learning in an Information Technological Environment Post Baccalaureate Program at Simon Fraser University.  Additionally, as a “….member of the Peace and Global Education action group for the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation…” he has been active in policy development, workshop leadership and advocacy for universal safe and inclusive schools.  Internationally, Kelly has worked on capacity-building and development initiatives in South Africa, as well as on “…education reform, teacher professional development and appropriate use and integration of ICT to engage learners within a cultural/local context,” in Ethiopia, Guyana, Tanzania, and Kenya.

To learn more about Kelly, follow him!

Photo Source


Telemedicine links between Canada, Kenya, and Uganda

In the article “Global Diffusion of the Internet X” he references another article which is titled “Into Africa: The Telemedicine Links Between Canada, Kenya, and Uganda” written in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. In it the author describes how the medical practices of physicians in rural Canada was really not that different from how it is in East Africa.This article, written in 1987, is certainly outdated and I’m sure many things have changed, but it is interesting to note that even then they were eagerly talking about their use of teleconferencing in order to advance development through the use of technology.

It appeared in the article that the key to making all of this possible, even in 1987 they struggled with the same things that make these projects difficult today, is whether or not it would make sense economically. Whenever you have a project where a developed country is working with an underdeveloped country, money will always be a deterrent to the progress which they wish to make. However, in this case, an organization called the International Satellite Organization (Intelsat) and the International Institute of Communications worked together to start a project called Project SHARE. This project has “made teleconference and telemedicine links between Canada and East Africa economically feasible.” This and other projects like it are probably more common now as technology advances as this was 25 years ago but it is interesting to note that these slight advancements in technology’s use in development have been ongoing and consistent.

The remainder of the article described how scholars at universities, medical schools mostly, are using the telemedicine technology to send information like EEG’s back and forth and how they send out images to get examined twice a week. The medical facilities at the University of Nairobi and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda are the only medical schools in East Africa and are in desperate need for other scholars to be able to communicate with. This teleconferencing project has made them much more capable of treating patients and functioning as a medical organization with lives in their hands.


OLPC and Development in the Developed World

Despite the many flaws, my favorite thing about the OLPC initiative is the fact that it doesn’t just focus its development efforts in third world countries, but also focuses on developing under-developed area in developed countries – i.e. Canada.

OLPC Canada: “13 Schools – 7 Provinces – 3 Territories – 2,295 Students – 282 Teachers.”

The focus of OLPC Canada is to empower aboriginal, disadvantaged youth in both rural and urban settings.  They have participating schools in places like Edmonton, and also small community schools in the vast areas of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

One thing that OLPC has realized, that I believe many others need to also realize, is that we can’t forget the development needs in our own backyard.  There are many areas of North America with disadvantaged, impoverished communities.  Maybe they have an income greater than $2 a day, but the standard of living here is so much greater than that of rural Nigeria, for example, that our people are just as in need of assistance.

The US and Canada are often referred to as some of the richest countries in the world.  The US often referred to as the richest.  Yet, in the US, we have one of  the highest rates of Income Inequality, according to the Gini Index.

There are a lot of ways ICT4D can be implemented in places like the US and Canada still to spur development. We focus a lot of attention on helping the poor abroad, let’s remember to devote some of our time and attention to developing our bottom line nationally, to helping the impoverished communities down the street, and in our own borders.