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ICT Success Stories

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Despite the rapid spread of ICTs around the globe over the last fifteen years, significant barriers still persist at many levels. One of the major constraints limiting communities' ability to participate in the digital age is language. The majority of software and knowledge is produced in only a few languages, leading to difficulties communicating in many local and even some national languages. National and international efforts have been made involving governments, civil society organizations, academia and business to find effective solutions to be reduce barriers and fully realize the potential of human creativity. Using ICTs, new opportunities are opening for human curiosity, intelligence and ingenuity throughout the world.


ICT stories from the field

 eContent Programme - European Union

Success Strategy: eContent is part of programmes set up by the European Union to make eEurope a reality. eContent supports the development of European digital content on global networks.

eContent is a market oriented programme which aims to contribute to the production, use and distribution of European digital content and to promote linguistic and cultural diversity on the global networks. The programme supports: Innovative and viable content projects involving multinational and cross-sector partnerships; Accompanying measures addressing best practice, concerted action, awareness and dissemination; market studies for visions, insight, challenges and opportunities

The programme aims at facilitating access to digital content, its use and exploitation, enhancing quality of content with well-defined metadata, and reinforcing cooperation between digital content stakeholders. It will tackle multilingual and multicultural barriers.

The Programme addresses specific market areas where development has been slow: geographic content (as a key constituent of public sector content), educational content, cultural, scientific and scholarly content. The Programme also supports EU-wide co-ordination of collections in libraries, museums and archives and the preservation of digital collections so as to ensure availability of cultural, scholarly and scientific assets for future use. 

In a first four-year period (2001-2005), eContent is budgeted 100 mn EUR to improve cross-border access to and use of public sector information and to enhance content production in a multilingual and multicultural environment. A mid-term evaluation of the programme found that its benefits were significant. Therefore, a second phase is underway - eContentplus Pro-gramme covering the period 2005-2008. It is expected to ease the barriers to the cross-border use of European digital content like languages, multiple standards, cultural differences and different administrative traditions.

Partners: European Commission, DG Information Society 

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity 

 Content creation in Singapore and Thailand

Success Strategy: To address the diversity of cultures in Singapore, a variety of Government-sanctioned internet-related projects have been created.  Specifically, the Chinese, Tamil and Malay communities have created internet portals that promote the use of these native languages in cyberspace.  The key objective for each of the initiatives is to promote the creation and use of content for their respective communities. 

For more information: see the ITU's website  

With penetration rate of just 29 per cent—limited to the most affluent Thais—internet penetration in Thailand has not yet reached critical mass.  The key barrier facing most potential internet and ICT users in the country is the lack of Thai-centric content.  To address this problem and help spur interest in the internet, companies such as Microsoft, Terra Lycos and M-Web have begun initiatives to incorporate Thai into their program and portal designs.  M-Web in particular, by purchasing the most popular Thai portal,, intends to incorporate Thai content on its websites and browser software.  Improving knowledge of the English language may also be a means for the Government to increase accessibility. 

For more information: see the ITU's website

 Little Horus – Global Campus – Middle East

Success Strategy: Little Horus is the first Egyptian website especially designed for children. The website consists of over 700 pages of information and illustrations that address children between the ages 6 to 15 in both Arabic and English. Little Horus provides a comprehensive journey that transcends Egypt's 7000 years of civilization into an educational and cultural experience for children, adults, educators and professionals. Not only this, but Little Horus also offers children games, fun and entertainment to suit all ages. The site offers a variety of portals that provide a contemporary view of Egypt through Pharonic, Coptic, Greek and Modern civilizations. Little Horus prides on its achievements of more than 12,000 children from over 54 countries visit the site daily, and receives more than hundreds of messages per day. Teachers and students from several countries use the site as an educational reference material.

Target group: Children and Youth

Partners: The Information Technology and Software Engineering Centre, The Arab Academy, The Arab Cyber Education (ACE), The Arab Film & TV School, e-Knowledge, The International Plant Genetic Resource Institute, The Middlesex University – UK, The Regional Information Technology Institute (RITI), The World Bank Institute

Awards: Winner of the Cable & Wireless Childnet International Award, Category “Best Achiever of the internet Society of Egypt (ISE)” 1999 Annual Award

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

 Rice-Plant Chef-d’oeuvres on the web - Japan

Success Strategy: Inakadate-village is really a small village in Northern part of Japan, which has only 2,512 households with population of 8,900 in its 22.31km2 land. Inakadate decided to make the difference with rice plant compositions on a rice field! Furthermore, the local community committed to share the experience with people all around the globe by going digital.

Rice is a main culture for Japanese rural people. A long and rich tradition of rice breeding stands behind. Agriculture is still the industry of predilection for the local community. In order to keep the tradition but also make it popular and attract curiosity, local authorities and citizens found a way to exhibit and valorise it.

Since 2000, every year a field is chosen as well as a leitmotif of the initiative. Pictures are taken periodically to allow the follow-up of the evolution of the field. A website specially designed to disseminate the images was created and developed remarkably. This comes to show that the small size could not be a constraint for creativity and ingenuity.

Notwithstanding, the Inakadate rice chef-d’oeuvres are a good example of local content as a fruitful outcome of a local community& local government partnership.

View Inakadate creations:

Partners: Village Council, village community

Source: "Inakadate-village" website (Japanese only)


See more pictures of this year's art on the rice field week by week here.


N.B. All of the web pages listed above are machine translated by Alatavista

 Development of Armenian Unicode System

Success Strategy: To commemorate the 1600th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian alphabet, UNESCO, through its project Initiative B@bel, and the Matenadaran Institute in Yerevan have launched a project to enhance access to information in the digital environment for the Armenian language. Started in 2004, the project aims at developing a Unicode compatible font to overcome some current constraints in the use of the Armenian language in fields such as modern print and digital publishing. 

Currently there are many Armenian fonts, which use non-standard encoding systems which can make information exchange between users, for example e-mail, unreliable. Many of the available fonts have only limited styles and do not offer the possibility of recreating the rich detailed design features of the languages such as can be seen in older traditional Armenian manuscripts. This poses certain challenges and limitations for publisher and contemporary digital graphic artists. The project will therefore seek to address such esthetical, legal and standardization issues. Particular attention will also be given to the training of local font designers and working with local institutions to raise awareness of good practices.  

Today, some 3 million inhabitants of Armenia use the Armenian language. There is also a culturally aware Armenian diasporas of around 4 million persons many of whom still write and speak Armenian. It is expected that this initiative will facilitate online information exchanges and content creation in Armenian and contribute to the preservation and promotion of the Armenian culture in the digital environment.  

Target group: Armenians and Armenia diasporas members   

Partners: UNESCO’s Initiative B@bel and the Matenadaran Institute in Yerevan, Armenia 

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the webpage of the activity

 Development of Standards for Ethiopic Script

 Success Strategy: UNESCO supported standardization process for Ethiopic scripts as a precondition for local content development in languages in Ethiopia like Tigrina, Afar, Amharic and others. Joint efforts are focusing on development of a national standard in Ethiopic script for use by the local communities in the country as well as by expatriated Ethiopians all over the world. This initiative is reflecting the concern for grassroots & cultural heritage preservation and constitutes a consistent base for further local content development and valorisation.

The standardization process is a precondition for local content development in languages in Ethiopia. Ethiopic is the script used to write Amharic, the official working language of Ethiopia, as well as many other Semitic and Cushitic languages in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The workshop aimed at discussing Ethiopic standards need assessment, strategies for development, adoption and dissemination of the standards, design of keyboard layout and resource mobilization.

Target group: Ethiopian citizens and expatriates

Partners: UNESCO’s Initiative B@bel with support of UNECA and the Ministry of Capacity Building

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

Critical Localisation - Ethiopia

Success Strategy: An other similar initiative is underway led by national authorities. Ethiopian languages standard for computerization purposes is being developed to enable national and international software solution providers to incorporate the major Ethiopian languages into their localization facilities so as to enable the community to use ICTs with their own local languages.

Target group: Ethiopian Languages Communities

Partners: Ethiopian Information and Communication Development Authority

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database

 Development of Standards for Nepali Font

Success Strategy: Improved data transfer and a wide-range of computer applications in Nepali language are the main results of a UNESCO supported project to normalize Nepali “Devanagari” as the standard font for local language computing that was implemented by “Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya” (MPP) in Nepal.

In Nepal the Nepali Devanagari font (language) was utilized by some organizations while others used fonts such as ‘Preeti’, ‘Kantipur’ and ‘Fontasy Himali’. The various agencies had customized the software for their own institutions and there were no common standard in the country. The lack of standardization limited the transfer of data and information from one font to another because various fonts had to be downloaded and kept on each and every computer in order to open any document.

“The lack of a standard font had discouraged the Nepali IT professionals from developing utility software such as a dictionary or a spell-checker in the Nepali language. There was too much work involved in customizing the software for each font currently in use” says UNESCO’s Susanne Ornager.

On this background UNESCO supported since 2004 MPP, a non-governmental organization promoting the use of computing in the Nepali language and the principal archives of books and periodicals in the mother tongue in order to develop a standard font for Nepali.

Nepal already hosts a vibrant IT sector, which is determined to respond to the dramatic advances that are represented by the standardization of the Nepali Devanagari font. MPP will be utilizing all the experiences gained in its past UNESCO/CI projects to push the momentum of Nepali computing in the future.

Target group: Nepali community

Partners: UNESCO, the Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya (MPP)

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the webpage of the activity

 Linking Generations in the Pacific

Success Strategy: With the help of local and international navigation experts, UNESCO launched an endogenous effort to preserve indigenous knowledge systems throughout the Pacific Islands.  As part of its “Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems in a Global Society” (LINKS) programme, UNESCO worked with local communities to design a CD-ROM containing information about traditional navigation techniques, maps, pedagogical methods and histories of Pacific Island communities.  The CD-ROM, which serves as both a learning and reference tool, was created to help bridge the knowledge gap between generations in the region. 

By engaging local communities, UNESCO and its expert navigation advisors were able to compile and analyze traditional navigational and cultural practices, and digitize them on CD-ROMs.  The project, which is mainly targeted at youth, uses modern ICTs to help educate and train new generations of Pacific navigators.  Moreover, the CD-ROM provides an interactive interface that helps users learn how to build their own boats and plan routes on the Pacific Ocean.  Not only does the project help to preserve indigenous knowledge systems and traditional methodologies for navigation, but it also ensures the vitality of the unique identity of the region’s peoples. 

While still in its infancy, this project reinforces the effectiveness of ICTs for the sustainability of indigenous knowledge systems.  UNESCO’s efforts in the region also help to introduce new generations to ICTs, which is essential for thriving in the ever-evolving global information society.  

Source: the UNESCO website

For more information: see the website of the activity 

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