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Posts Tagged ‘demystifying’

Plan Mozambique’s team has been discussing ICTs in their work using the distance learning packet that my colleague Mika (at Plan Finland) and I put together with lots of support from Hannah Beardon. This is part of our ICT4D research and training initiative in 8 countries (Senegal, Togo, Mali, Cameroon, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda) that will conclude near the end of the year.

This initiative is two-fold —

1) to consolidate some information/research on what’s currently happening in each country (in Plan programs, by other organizations, general ICT landscape, government policies) that staff and managers can use for making decisions around ICT in their programs and other work; and

2) to offer a methodology whereby local staff can identify existing information and communication needs, means, mechanisms and flows on the one hand, and learn about new technology on the other hand to see if any of the new tech is a fit (in its current state or in an adapted state) to meet the existing needs.  One really important aspect is offering ways for local staff to look at the context in which they work every day and see what tools would be useful or even usable (here I like to think of those 4 C’s of successful ICT deployment -connectivity, cost, capacity, and culture).

The end goal is to improve program impact on the ground by strengthening staff capacity to look at their programs with an ICT lens.

Our distance workshop materials (which are pretty amateur — power points with accompanying home-made videos, downloaded videos from other sources, skype calls to expand the discussions) got good feedback from staff.  (This is likely due to my colleague Mika’s great sense of humor more than anything!) We’re thinking of making a few new modules to cover new tech that we’ve heard is being used in Africa or elsewhere, or that we find out about (at workshops, via Twitter, via staff in other countries, from blogs and other sources) so that interested countries could program additional ICT4D days to continue discussions and learning about new tools.

Today we got feedback from Plan Mozambique staff. The main learning/points that came out of the workshop were:

  • Demystifying ICT. “For some of us who are only NGO workers without formal training in ICT, we get scared, we think of megabytes, how info flies, all those things.  But we found that all of us use ICT – our cell phones, our gadgets, the things we use daily, internet, intranet — it’s all part of the ICT jigsaw.”
  • ICT is not stand-alone. “It was quite a useful exercise to see how we can incorporate ICTs in our programmatic interventions.  Again- we realized that all this is now linking up with the rights based approach, with our child centered development approach.  So today and yesterday we’ve seen how ICT can serve in this perspective. Especially today it was very directly apparent how ICT integrates into these approaches. ICT is not a straight alone aspect.”
  • Learning how to map communications networks, identify local communications needs, see what added value Plan can give by improving it directly, strategically or indirectly. “This was a good way for discussing ways to address information and communication needs and ways to bring about better impact in development programs using our current rights based approach,” as one staff put it.
  • Opening windows of opportunities and identifying existing challenges. “We need to map available ICT tools and see what is appropriate in our context to apply.  Some of the common ICT tools in the Africa context are still a challenge. We don’t have electricity in most of our rural communities.  During the mapping exercises on ICTs we need to take that into account. To find the means to identify the tools that are most appropriate. Mobile phones still need to be charged. We can solar charge, but I’ve yet to see this myself.  We can use other ICTs in our programs, but mostly things like radio, TV, particular videos. These tools are already available in the community, everyone in the community has a radio. TV is a challenge. Mobile phones are challenge still.  Mobile phone could add costs to the community leaders, and later would not be sustainable. This needs to be looked into to see what kind of solutions we can find to overcome it.”
  • Gaining insight into ICT4D, its dynamics and uses in communities. “It’s important to understand that we are still a very primitive country.  Different colleagues have raised the question of infrastructure. Yet there is a huge opportunity for us to create space for growth. It’s difficult for us see – we want to really engage community members but wonder if they would feel out of place due to their levels of understanding. We feel they can deal with technologies like mobile phones but when it comes to computers it would be much more difficult. But this workshop was an eye opener. Technology is not so mysterious.  We need to try our best to make technology something simple that can be used by anyone, just like mobile phones, small children can use them. If all other technologies could be that simple it would be great.”
  • Balancing possible/feasible and creative/innovative. “We’ve seen some tools that can help us with new ideas as well as with existing programs. One thing we need to address clearly is guidelines on social media to set up a basis for those who are trying things out. Also thoughts around content management and delivery.  How can countries capture information and communicate it out in a way that gets the message across best. We can also do more learning from others about ICT4D programs, especially about their context and what is the process leading into these projects, what conditions were in place.”
  • Greening our ICT4D.  “Another thing we need to really consider is equipment which with time becomes obsolete – how can we recycle equipment and put it to better use?  Green equipment – how to stop generating trash in communities. Renewable energy sources – solar was mentioned, tapping wind energy also – how can we look at that and enter into that as well.  And what about other appropriate technologies that are not IT.  There are innovative irrigation pumps that are very effective and cheap.  Magnetic torches that don’t use batteries which come in very handy.  There are many things we could adopt and incorporate.”

Related Posts:
I and C then T
ICT ideas from Plan Cameroon
ICT4D Kenya: ICT and community development is real
Modernizing birth registration with mobile technology
In Kenya brainstorming on mobiles
Chickens and eggs and ICTs

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