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ICT Success Stories

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E-ENVIRONMENT


Given that one of the first applications of the internet was to help researchers share data across geographical boundaries, it is not surprising that today, the internet and other ICTs are being used to share information about our complex global environment. By making it easy to collect, distribute and analyze data from many different sources, scientists have been able to increase their capacity to learn about the world’s ecosystem. While the internet cannot stop environmental degradation, it has enabled further understanding of the boundaries of nature. Not only do digitized environmental data benefit scientists, but they also give global policy-makers greater access to information, allowing them to address urgent problems more effectively, through environmentally friendly common action.

ICT stories from the field


 Information Centers on Water Hygiene in Burkina Faso

Success Strategy: This project is for the communication of the hygienic use of water in the district of Bokin in Burkina Faso. This is carried out by the use of computers, solar powered internet connectivity, digital cameras and projectors, making it possible to communicate in audio-visuals to small villages. There has been a lack of information dissemination on the use and management of water sites in villages, there is also no general information on water sanitation and hygiene. With the use of ICTs the project aims at developing an innovative approach on awareness and capacity development for farmers on issues of water hygiene and sanitation. The projects targets as beneficiaries, 10 villages in the district of Bokin with an approximate number of 20'000 people.

The project aims to provide the villagers with a better understanding of water hygiene, related problems and possible solutions. The consequence of which is a reduction in illnesses, a cost effective use of water and associated materials and the empowerment of the villagers.

As a follow-up to this project, Sahel Solidarite organized a multimedia presentation in the village of Guimba, Using multimedia devices such as PowerPoint, a video presentation. The presentation featured hygienist showing the good and bad practices of water use and the manpower for the project were locally sourced and trained in the use of ICTs. This presentation left a lasting impression on the villagers many of whom had never seen the use of such technology. Sahel Solidarite plans another of this presentation to involve more women participation.

Partners: Sahel Solidarite, International Institute for Communication and Development

Source: The IICD website, Sahel Solidarite


 A web school project called ENO-Environment Online

Success strategy: ENO-Environment Online is a global web school for environmental awareness. Four different environmental themes are studied within a school year (Social, Natural, Cultural Environment and Sustainable Development) on a weekly basis. The ENO Program has been running since 2000 and it is organised and co-ordinated by the city of Joensuu, Finland.

The main idea is to lay emphasis on local environment and see it in a global aspect: act locally - think globally. Information will be gathered from local communities and shared together in the website. Learning is student-centered. There are both online and offline activities. In the end of each theme there is a campaign week when the results are shared locally and globally.

Goals:

  • to study to learn co-operationally in web community

  • to learn new skills in ICT

  • to deepen environmental  themes in education

  • to add global awareness and internationality

  • to support sustainable development

  • to get developing countries as active participants

Partners: There are 130 official ENO schools in 52 countries. The age of students is from 12 to 18 years.

Recognitions & Awards:

  • An  Umbrella Project for NetD@ys 2000 by European Commission 

  • 3rd Prize in EcoG@llery Europe 2000 

  • 3rd Prize Winner in Childnet Awards 2001  

  • Labelled NetDays Project 2001 

  • Finalist in the Stockholm Challenge Awards 2002  

  • Finalist in the Global Junior Challenge 2002

  • Quality Prize in eLearning, Ministry of Education, 2003

For further information: see the ENO website


 A Great Lakes network

Success strategy: Illustrative of the increasingly important role that the internet and ICTs are playing the environmental sector, the Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN) has become a reliable tool for information relating to the environment, economy, education and tourism for the Great Lakes region in the United States.Realizing that traditional forms of communication and information sharing were not sufficient to address the multitude of issues associated with environmental conservation in the region, the Great Lakes Commission, the non-partisan body that manages GLIN, turned to the internet in 1994.By providing an online resource for environmental, economic and cultural research and analysis, GLIN has helped professionals from a variety of disciplines and government agencies improve their understanding of the Great Lakes ecosystem.To the surprise of the GLIN managers, the number of domestic and international visitors to the site grew from 68,000 in 1995 to over 931,000 by 2000.The site continues to grow in popularity.

Source: http://www.great-lakes.net


 A Green Network

Success strategy: Begun in 1991 by a Carnegie Mellon University student, the EnviroLink network has become one of the world’s largest repositories of environmental information.Since 1991 when it was simply an e-mail listserv for a few student activists, EnviroLink has transformed into a critical resource for knowledge sharing and linking like-minded individuals in the virtual environment.EnviroLink offers a variety of free internet services.For instance, the EnviroWeb program provides hosting, listserv, e-mail and customizable Web site development free of charge to non-profit organizations committed to protecting the environmental and animal rights.

Source: Envoroweb


 High-tech Weather Services in Africa

Success strategy: Realizing the need to improve the quality and quantity of surface observations relating to weather forecasts and climate predictions in Africa, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) proposed a pilot project in June 2002 that seeks to utilize the existing network of HAM radio operators to improve the reporting of meteorological observations to the national meteorological centres (NMCs) in the region.Sponsored by the United States National Weather Service, the overall objective of the one-year project is to create a cooperative weather observer network to help the countries of Africa better prepare for drastic climate changes and avert natural disasters.So far over 50 potential operators have been identified throughout Africa, and the implementation of the project is currently underway.

For more information: see the WMO website

Background materials: see the High-tech weather services in Africa case study


 CARPE diem

Success strategy: The Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) brings together a variety of international actors ranging from the World Wildlife Fund to the African Wildlife Foundation and the Peace Corps to address issues relating to deforestation and biodiversity in the Congo Basin.CARPE, which began as a five-year pilot project launched by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1994, seeks to identify the problem areas in the Basin (e.g. unsustainable land management), and establish a framework for biodiversity and forest conservation throughout the region.Moreover, through information sharing and new technology transfers, CARPE aims to enhance the human and institutional capacities of indigenous populations in an effort to protect the more than 170 million hectares that comprise the Basin.Since inception, CARPE has helped the people of the region to: 

  • create guidelines for resource conservation

  • learn about effective land management, and

  • develop strategic approaches to environmental information analysis

Drawing on the expertise of regional NGOs and local citizens, CARPE organizers have developed a Web site that serves as a repository for information sharing among the nine Congo Basis states.

Partners: The United States and South Africa along with 27 public and private partners

Source: http://carpe.umd.edu


 Ecosandals.com

Success strategy: In an effort to protect the environment while creating jobs for the residents of a deprived shantytown, the Wikyo Akala Project uses discarded rubber tires to make sandals, thus providing new job opportunities for the more than 500,000 inhabitants of Korogocho, a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya.  The non-profit project melds together many important elements of sustainability, including education, human resource development and environmental protection.  The key component to the Wikyo Akala Project is its Ecosandals.com Web portal, which has proved to be widely popular throughout African and abroad.  As a sustainable and community-based project that engages the youth of Korogocho in a money-making experiment while fostering the recycling of environmental waste, Ecosandals.com is helping to reform and modernize the social and economic structures of this marginalized community. 

Source: Ecosandals.com

For more information: see the Ecosandals.com case study


 India’s Village Knowledge Centres

Success strategy: Designed by M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and funded by the Canada-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Village Knowledge Centres have been an important source of information for many rural villages throughout India.From healthcare to farming and transportation information, these “information shops” are both sustainable and empowering.For instance, a cadre of women volunteers between the ages of 21-27 run the shop in the village of Embalam, and women are given preference at each of the other sites in operation. 

While the Village Knowledge Centres have improved access to markets, healthcare information and helped sensitize rural youth to computers, access to agriculture-related information has proved to be one of the most popular uses of the Centres.In the village of Veerampattinam, each day the operating staff downloads maps from the U.S. Navy website, showing local weather forecasts for the day.The staff then disseminates the information via loudspeakers to the village fisherman to help them prepare for the day’s tasks.By offering practical, localized information that can be immediately useful to the community, these information shops help to promote a healthy environment for all villagers. 

While the government of Pondicherry has established Centres in four villages so far, it intends to establish “onramps” to the information superhighway in 50 more villages in the near future.Each shop is equipped with a multimedia Pentium PC and a printer, which are linked to the MSSRF hub in Villianur through a local area network based on Very High Frequency (VHF) radio.Despite the positive benefits the Centres have had since being implemented in 1998, many barriers remain.Poverty, illiteracy and linguistic hurdles must be overcome in order to expand the project into new villages throughout Pondicherry.Moreover, it will be essential to for the project coordinators to educate local bureaucrats, who seek to maintain control over the flow of information, about the social and economic benefits of ICTs and the free flow of information at the local level.

For more information: http://www.isoc.org/oti/articles/0401/balaji.html


 Environmental Information Circulation and Monitoring System on the Internet

Success strategy: The ITU participates, in association with UNITAR and the Observatory for the Sahel and the Sahara (OSS), in the Programme for an Information System on Desertification (ISD) – Environmental Information Circulation and Monitoring System on the internet (EISI) in Africa.

The programme aims at developing information heritage relating to the environment, improving access to and exchange of environmental information, creating synergies and coordinating environmental operators.

The first phase already implemented has permitted to organize sub-regional training seminars and implement pilot projects in seven African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Morocco, Uganda, Senegal, Tunisia) and three regions (West Africa, North Africa and East Africa).

The project is now in its second phase of implementation. Efforts are focused on extending the field of application of the Environmental Information Circulation and Monitoring System on the internet to the whole African continent, in order to respond to the numerous request of African countries and sub-regions wishing to equip themselves with capabilities to build their own ISD-EISI.

Partners: ITU (International Telecommunication Union, UNITAR and the Observatory for the Sahel and the Sahara (OSS)

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the ITU website


 Ghana’s Environmental Information Network

Success strategy: Realizing the need to create a national repository for environment-related information, the Ghanaian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the Environmental Information Network Project.  By digitizing the environmental information from the EPA, Forestry Research Institute, and the Building and Road Research Institute, the project is designed to enhance the country’s management of the environment. The goal of the project is to utilize the searchable electronic network to facilitate networking between relevant agencies and stakeholders, while enhancing the Government’s ability to collect, process and share environment-related information with all interested parties.  Targeted at policy makers, civil society, NGOs and the general public, the Network helps all Ghanaians better understand their local environment, while also serving as a mechanism for averting natural disasters and environmental degradation. 

Source: http://www.epa.gov.gh/  


 RANET - Global

Success Strategy: RANET is an international collaboration to make weather, climate and related information more accessible to remote and resource poor populations. The program combines innovative technologies with appropriate applications and partnerships at the community level in order to ensure that the networks it creates serve the entirety of community information needs. Community ownership and partnership is the core principle of RANET's sustainability strategy.

In the framework of RANET, a range of activities are undertaken including training, pilot activities to demonstrate various community technologies, and development of a dissemination network through partnership and platform development. Its goal is to facilitate day-to-day resource decisions and help people prepare for, mitigate against, and respond to natural hazards.

RANET also works to build telecommunication bridges between scientific-based products and remote communities to foster the exchange of environment-related information. RANET is a 2-tier system. The first tier carries information necessary for meteorological services to improve their own products. Examples include satellite imagery, ocean temperature measurements, synoptic observations, and large-scale model runs. These products are taken from public domain websites. The second tier is designed to serve the communities and local populations by further distributing locally/nationally produced information, such as forecasts, bulletins, and warnings. In several cases, communities have requested additional information such as crop prices, which is then also placed on the network. In all cases RANET strives to have information produced in local languages and in a non-technical format.

The programme has been developing specific technology-based platforms. For instance, in Africa new and existing analogue (FM/AM) radio stations were integrated with new digital radio satellite technologies. RANET's strategy in this and other projects involves helping ensure the programme builds upon existing capabilities and local knowledge, is community owned and operated, and is locally relevant.

RANET also provides a web-hosting programme. In exchange for the chance to develop web skills and an online presence, national environmental services are asked to make some operational products available via RANET's digital radio broadcast. The WorldSpace Foundation (renamed First Voice International, or FVI) developed and manages the satellite system through which RANET broadcasts multimedia (data) content to all of Africa and most of Asia, and probably soon in the Pacific.

Partners: International, regional, national, and local organisations from the public, non-profit, and commercial sector, including the Australian Government with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the African Center of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD). Support has been provided by the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the NOAA Office of Global Programs, and FVI.

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database, the Communication Initiative website and the website of the activity

For more information: see http://www.ranetproject.net


 Creating Future Scientists

Success strategy: The Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) project is an online learning tool targeted mainly at primary and secondary schools throughout the world.While global in scope, the project is sponsored by a consortium of federal United States agencies ranging from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).In the United States alone, GLOBE has partnerships with over 140 colleges/universities, state and local schools and a variety of non-governmental agencies.GLOBE enables students to actively participate in scientific research in a variety of fields, including ecology, land conservation and meteorology.The GLOBE site not only gives students an opportunity to interact with scientists and students in other parts of the world, but also allows them to share their research in the internet-based student data archive.GLOBE also offers online workshops for teachers, while giving them a forum to collaborate with their counterparts in other countries.Operating in over 95 countries, GLOBE has provided online scientific instruction to more than one million students, with over 10,000 schools participating in the real-time learning environment.

Partners: 107 countries

Source : http://www.globe.gov


 Internet-Linked Boats for Ecological Awareness - Bangladesh

Success Strategy: This innovative project was conceived in order to reduce pesticide use, improve water quality, and increase incomes in isolated river basin farming communities through distance learning programs on water health and rights provided by Mobile internet-Educational Unit Boats (MIEUB). The overall budget of the project is estimated at US$198,000.

The river-dominated areas of Bangladesh are submerged for 3-4 months every year during the monsoon season. These floods prevent the government from providing road networks, electricity, and telephone service to the 20 million people who live in these areas. In addition, these river basin communities do not have access to information about water protection, and poor water practices are rampant, such as dumping pesticides and raw sewage into the rivers. As a result, these rivers have experienced an alarming level of toxicity and a sharp decline in fish production.

By targeting the hard-to-reach river basin farming communities, the MIEUBs uniquely address the water education needs of a large but commonly neglected population. This project is the only one of its kind to literally navigate the Bangladeshi river network to deliver water information and training services to these remote areas. In addition, the internet capability allows the farmers to obtain commodity pricing information and communicate with others-a powerful advantage in selling their goods. This project expects to educate 100,000 farmers to take a more proactive approach to address water violation practices, while also helping them achieve a 50 percent increase in agricultural productivity and income and a 60 percent reduction in pesticide and fertilizer use.

Partners: Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha (SSS), Commonwealthof Learning

Awards: Finalist for the World Bank's Development Marketplace competition 2005

Source: The World Bank website


 Exploring the Ozone Online

Success strategy: As an electronic testament to the reality of ozone layer depletion, the University of Cambridge, UK launched a project in 1997 to help educate students and concerned citizens about the effects of releasing chlorofloro carbons (CFCs) into the atmosphere.The Ozone Hole Tour site provides visitors with a comprehensive overview of the make-up of the earth’s atmosphere, offers scientific insights into what is being done to address the manmade problem, and provides links to a variety of information resources about the issue.With over 3,500 online hits per week, the site has surpassed the expectations of the project’s organizers, and has become popular among primary students and university researchers alike.Working with scientists and research institutions from around the world, the site serves as an online learning tool to better understand the adverse effects that industrialization has had on the earth’s atmosphere.

Source: http://www.atm.ch.cam.ac.uk/tour/index.html


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