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ICT Success Stories

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Extreme poverty in many underdeveloped regions of the world, high costs of internet access and social constraints continue to stifle creative expression and socio-economic advancement. ICT access is crucial in bridging the digital divide as a key foundation of development, for rural development in particular. Creating local capacity, stimulating ingenuity and innovation and boosting human skills and performance are also critical factors in connecting rural communities to the global information and communication network.

  ICT stories from the field

 Wi-Fi Pilot Development Projects- Latin America

The challenges faced by rural communities in Latin America include the lack of communication infrastructure and limited finances available to provide this infrastructure. With these as setbacks, there are little or no communication technologies to link the inhabitants to the city The project brings Wi-Fi connectivity to these seemly unreachable areas in an inexpensive manner, thereby connecting remote areas to the internet. The project is unique because of its use of Wi-Fi technology. It connects rural communities across Latin America and the Caribbean to the internet using a single antenna. The project has successfully been rolled out in the mountainous regions of the Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, Panama, Peru El Salvador Mexico and Argentina.

The Latin America School of Network Foundation in collaboration with the Institute for Connectivity in the Americas has launched a portal called WiLAC designed to support wireless connectivity implementation

Source: The International Development Research Center, Institute for Connectivity in the Americas

Partners: International Development and Research Center (IDRC), Institute for Connectivity in the Americas (ICA)

  CELAC (Collecting & Exchange of Local Agricultural Content) - Uganda

Success Strategy: It is a common trend today within government and the farming community that in order to realize increasing and better farm outputs, one needs to adopt use of modern farming methods. True as it may sound, its practicality among the grassroot farming communities is doubtable. This is because its adoption comes along with the need to use modern farm inputs like hybrid seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and machinery which these farmers cannot afford. In Uganda, more than 70% of the farming community is composed of the women folk. It is they that shoulder the burden of fending for their often polygamous and extended families while the men collect, apportion and spend the incomes derived. It is on this foundation that the CELAC Project was laid. The project targets improving particularly the rural women farmers’ livelihoods and food security through engaging the government and civil society (women farmers inclusive) into a culture of knowledge sharing and information management of local content using ICT methods that include weekly SMS; the annual Knowledge Fair; radio and informational brochures and newsletters; through radio cassette and DVDs and the project website.

Partners: BROSDI, Hivos, FICOM (Farmers information Communication Management), ICTARD (Information Communication and Technologies for Africa Rural Development), Linux Solutions, VEDCO (Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns), World Vision, NAADS (National Agricultural Advisory Services)

For more information: see the website of the activity

 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

  Amader Gram (Our Villages) - Bangladesh

Success Strategy: Amader Gram is a ICT4D project of integrated rural development through capacity building of the disadvantaged community people, conservation of bio-diversity and sustainable use & mobilization of natural resources and environmentally sounds income generation activities. Since 1996, Amader Gram has helped to improve the lives of the disadvantaged poor people and children in 20 villages under 2 Upazila (Sub-District) of Bagerhat (Rampal) and Khulna (Paikgacha) districts in Bangladesh.

The ongoing projects of Amader Gram are focusing on several key issues, which would hopefully open new opportunities for community development on local and regional level. One of the main activities is a formal set-up of collecting and preserving data belonging to the village societyas an on-going process. This initiative is particularly valuable since the national government lacks ICT facilities as well as structured local communities related data keeping. Throughout Amader Gram process, data is being collected and kept for future generations. At one hand the collected data is documenting the day-to-day changes in villagers' lives. On the other hand, the stored data will serve as basis for further data structuring and use, hence contributing to the acceleration of change in the living status of the villagers.

Village information, communication and knowledge centres have been created to frame the process of data gathering and digital heritage building. Furthermore, the centres disseminate knowledge and information providing to the villagers valuable new opportunities. For example the data related to micro-credit activities is providing information on potential Income Generating Activity (IGA) sectors and on the ways of access to credit and other supports so that the entrepreneurs can take quick and appropriate steps in local business management. A database on credit provides information on the amount of credit installment, rate of interest, sources of credit, recovery procedure etc.- all those can help in breaking the deadlock and gain confidence towards micro-credit access for the silent majority.

An important feature of Amader Gram’s Program is the linkages of the information flow to local government. A multi stakeholders’ partnership is deployed in order to support capacity building and local governance efforts. The awareness is urged of the need of a comprehensive ICTs strategy to blend all the stakeholders and ensure their participation. A complementary target of the project activities is the improvement of manpower professional & educational potential as well as everyday-life knowledge about health and nutrition issues, simple at first sight but crucial for further development

A special accent is given to long term overall development of the local communities and a thematic record is set up for keeping track of best practices and their context and thus establishing a kind of a catalogue for replication for future project in the field of ICTs.

Partners: Taneda Fund, Japan Education Fund, Government of Japan, AusAid, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, Ministry of Science & ICT, Government of Bangladesh, Commonwealth Educational Media Center for Asia, UNESCO, DFID Imfundo Knowledge Bank, Platform for Community Networks (GlobalCN), Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP)

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

  AKASHGANGA “ The Milky Way”

Success Strategy: Akashganga uses simple IT tools to facilitate milk collection and raise income for rural milk producers.

Dairy Cooperative Society members gathered twice a day to sell milk which often spoiled as they waited in long queues and payment could take 10 days. This simple technology solves all of those problems as it weighs the milk on electronic scales, electronically tests the fat content publicly displays and prints the pay slips with all the data and the amount owed along with useful message for the farming community.

Its usage at over 600 locations and daily, error-free operation by millions of farmers shows that IT can benefit poor rural communities which are open to new technologies that deliver tangible benefits. AKASHGANGA makes producing milk a more viable and profitable venture for rural families. Human resource development has also been an important developmental benefit since they hire and train locally. Unemployed youth have been able to earn livelihoods locally within their rural community instead of migrating to the big cities. It currently employs 30 engineering, marketing and other professionals.

Awards: Akashganga inititative, funded by Aavishkaar India Micro Venture Capital Fund has been designated Best Practice by UNDP India and Good practice by UNHABITAT.

For more information:

  Rural Economic Advancement Project (REAP) - South Caucasus 

Success Strategy: REAP has worked on developing and promoting appropriate processing technologies, that will enhance marketing opportunities for horticultural and poultry produce, thus resulting in higher income for participating households. Also, the project aims to improve access to technology and market information.

The project is regional in scope with activities in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The overall goal is to improve the household livelihood security of smallholder farmers by improving agricultural production; income generation and marketing; and developing business linkages between farmer organizations, the private sector, and local institutions in order to promote sustainable privatized agricultural production. The project targeted approximately 1,500 vulnerable households in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

In Armenia, the project targeted 480 farmers in the villages of Azatan, Akhuryan, Beniamen, Karnut and Hatsik. The project had a specific gender objective and anticipated that at least 60% of the beneficiaries would be women. The project approach was to train and support community based facilitators (CFs) who in turn would mobilize and train other farmers (Participatory Household Representatives – PHRs) in new technologies and business development issues. The CFs would also learn about and support PHRs in gaining improved access to local and distant agricultural support services. It was also proposed to establish involvement of the local government through the development of local coordination committees. In addition to training, CFs and PHRs were to be provided with inputs in support of new technology testing and adoption.

A preliminary evaluation undertaken after 18 months of operation (in 2002) indicated that this type of project, which assists small householders to learn together, work together and market together, could have significant impact in a very small period of time. REAP households experienced a 47% increase in gross income from wheat and potato production from the baseline, compared to a 4% increase for non-beneficiary households. In addition, REAP households increased potato and wheat consumption from their own crops by 27% and 5%, respectively, compared to non-beneficiary households. In addition, REAP households experienced a 34% average increase in gross income from key dairy products (milk, cheese), vs. a 27% decrease in gross income for non-beneficiary households. REAP households also increased consumption of home produced milk by 26% and consumption of raised eggs 26 by 17% compared to a reduction in family consumption of non-beneficiary households of 27% and 30%, respectively. In a country where potatoes and dairy products are staple foodstuffs, and where cash is limited, the ability of households to increase consumption without increasing their cash expenditures is a significant benefit that should not be discounted.

The results captured by evaluation indicated that significant benefits could be obtained with this approach. Accordingly, CARE and CIDA have invested income from other sources to continue to support the farming groups in the project over another harvesting cycle, in order to ensure sustainability of farmers’ gains.

Partners: Canadian International Development Agency - CIDA, CARE International

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database

  Rural Telecommunication in Laos

Success Strategy : The purpose of the project is to provide basic telecommunication infrastructure in rural areas of Laos. The inadequate means of communication are a major obstacle to economic development there.

 Approximately 1000 connection points were completed in rural areas under the three initial phases of the project and 1500 additional connections have been financed during the current phases 4th and 5th in order to connect approx 75% of the Laos' rural districts to the telecommunication network.

The administration and small entrepreneurs are provided with individual telephone lines whereas the public is served via public call offices. Beside voice services users have access to fax, email and internet. Investments are accompanied by a technical assistance component to assist the Lao Government and the regulatory body to improve sector organisation and set-up.

Partners: Government of Lao, Lao Telecommunication Company Ltd, Germany - KfW Entwicklungsbank (funding)

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of KfW Enticklungsbank

  Wireless IP project for the area around Nakaseke Multipurpose Community Telecentre - Uganda 

Success Strategy: Although Uganda has experienced some successes with new technology deployments, specifically in the wireless arena, many rural Ugandans remain disconnected from the global information network. However, collaborative efforts launched by domestic private actors, NGOs and a variety of international organizations promise to bring the information age to all Ugandans. A consortium of international and domestic organizations teamed up to launch an MCT in a remote village about 50 kilometers from Kampala, Uganda’s capital. Designed to introduce ICTs to remote villagers, the Nakaseke MCT demonstrates the positive impact that new technologies can have on marginalized societies.

In an effort to demonstrate the impact that ICTs can have on the social and economic development of rural areas, the Nakaseke MCT began as a three-year pilot project in 1999. Realizing that the success of the project depended on buy in from the public, the project organizers worked with local community members to assess the information needs of Nakaseke’s 31,000 inhabitants. By engaging domestic partners, specifically Uganda Telecom Ltd and the Uganda Public Library Board, the international consortium was able to create a model that would help bridge the rural-urban digital divide in Uganda by further bolstering the project’s information resource base.

With its open door policy, the Nakaseke MCT (the only ICT facility in the area) has become a centre for telecommunications, computing and information sharing for the community. While its target group includes small and medium sized businesses, farmers, women’s organizations and NGOs, it also serves as a point of access to the global information network for local schools and colleges. The local hospital staff also uses the MCT to keep in contact with and consult colleagues in Kampala, Uganda’s capital.

In a recent survey of the Nakaseke user community, the project organizers found that usage among the number of potential users remains below average at 44.2 per cent. However, over 60 per cent of respondents from the most rural parts of Nakaseke are using the MCT. Compared to MCTs in surrounding areas, the Nakaseke MCT is the most heavily used, largely because users are taking advantage of the library services accompanying the MCT. During 1999, MCTs were also launched in Nabweru and Bunyoro, two other periphery villages in Uganda which can also play a key role in narrowing the digital divide. As the Ugandan MCT has proven, to be effective however, MCT deployments must be sponsored, implemented and managed by a bi- or multilateral consortium that engages indigenous peoples at the community and/or village level.

Target group: Local Communitp

Partners: Government of Uganda, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO), International Development Research Center (IDRC), the British Council, Uganda Telecom Ltd and the Uganda Public Library Board 

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database

Background materials: ITU Uganda Case Study, ITU News – Nakaseke MCT

  Fencepost - New Zealand

Success Strategy: Fonterra’s supplier website, is a unique community & business channel used by Fonterra dairy farmers throughout New Zealand to monitor their business performance and stay in touch with the company and each other. Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd is a leading multinational dairy company investing in organic dairy industries and products, owned by 12,000 New Zealand dairy farmers. This is the world's largest exporter of dairy products, exporting 95 percent of their production. is an Internet e-cooperative & e-agricultural portal, focused on farmers' needs. provides its users with specific industry and personal output information, market and commodity updates, free weather updates, industry-related news, expert advice, discussion groups, sporting news and email as well as special deals on farm goods. provides expert knowledge base articles, up to the minute awareness of environmental issues and solutions, sharing of information amongst suppliers through online discussion groups, and up to the minute communications with Fonterra.

The first channel developed as part of the portal has been for the dairy industry. Over time it will be joined by others, such as wool, meat and horticulture. In the past year has been refined to enhance the communication channel with Fonterra suppliers around the country to create a nationwide rural community of the future - online. is also an important business tool providing Fonterra suppliers with up to the minute milk production and quality information giving farmers fast access to information that allows them to make decisions to better manage their farms. One example of the portal functionality is how farmers can view the volume of milk a tanker has just picked up from their farm vat - within minutes of the tanker leaving the farm! Milk quality and component results are available the minute tests are finalised. This daily monitoring of production gives valuable insight into the effects and timing of on-farm inputs designed to enhance production or maintain milk quality throughout the season. The ability for farmers to select their first and last collection of milk online has also been added, reducing administrative costs for the company and providing more accurate information for farmers and for scheduling of Fonterra's 450-strong tanker fleet, that is responsible for collecting over 14 billion litres of milk per annum. has an ongoing aim to leverage the power of the internet to ensure best farming practises and productivity tools can be shared across the supplier base to ensure Fonterra suppliers remain as world leaders in milk production and milk quality. Online voting in elections, calculations affecting capital expenditure for farmers in maintaining their co-operative memberships, forecasting of annual supply trends and payout predictors, livestock trading and classifieds advertising are other services provided by while its Rural jobs database is hugely successful both within New Zealand and internationally. Today more than 70% of Fonterra’s 11,500 farms are registered to utilise the site - these farms account for more than 80% of the company’s national milk production. A wide range of communication tools, productivity tools and interfaces with company systems are used on a daily basis by farmers spread throughout rural New Zealand. Although in its early days, has succeed in establishing a truly national community and a truly national business tool. Supporting and optimizing business practices for the farming and rural sector right across New Zealand, the platform is favouring the creation of new business models, based on a set of interactive tools, is developing the ability to spread best practice among farmers nationwide.

Partners: Fonterra, Kiwi Co-operative Dairies Ltd; Jade Systems

Awards: Winner of the national contest Best Digital Content and Applications - New Zealand 2005, Category e-Business Nominee for the WSIS-Award 2005, Category e-Business

Source: WSIS-Award - New Zealand and Jade Systems website 

For more information: the Fencepost website 

Note: Screen shots have been used as viewers are unable to access this site for detailed viewing due to security and privacy issues.

  Catalysing Access to ICTs in Africa (CATIA) - Africa

Success Strategy: The Catalysing Access to ICTs in Africa (CATIA) programme aims to enable poor people in Africa to gain maximum benefit from the opportunities offered by ICTs) and to act as a strong catalyst for reform. The programme supports a package of strategic activities to improve affordable access to the full range of ICTs, from internet to community radio. This programme is focused on addressing the need for ICTs to address social and economic development issues. It has been working to help build capacity across Africa to achieve sustainable change.

CATIA is a three-year programme with overall budget is about £9 million. A large number of partners are involved. It will be implemented in close coordination with the Canadian government’s Connectivity Africa initiative. The programme will end in April 2006. The programme is driven by two centres of expertise in ICT policy located in Africa. The centres were developed throughout the various activities under CATIA. One centre located in and working on behalf of stakeholders in East and Southern Africa and another centre located in and working on behalf of West and Central Africa. The centres are expected to play a leading role in developing the capacity of African stakeholders to contribute effectively to international decision-making on ICT products and services, on the role of ICTs in development and in building multi-stakeholder national policy making capacity in African countries. The programme aims at:

  • Low-cost satellite internet access widely available across Africa.

  • Robust African internet backbone with exchange points at the core and strong African ISP Associations

  • An African-led network of institutions, actively strengthening the African expertise involved in setting ICT related policy

  • Increased capacity for African developing countries to participate in international ICT decision-making

  • Low-cost computer and open source software being developed and tailored to the African market

  • Positive policy environments for radio broadcasting across Africa

  • Stronger network of community radio, FM and public service radio stations across Africa, offering good pro-poor radio programmes

  • A thriving African-based Open Knowledge Network (OKN), catalysing the creation and exchange of local content

Partners: United Kingdom - Department for International Development, OneWorld network, Amarc Africa, Panos Institute, DFID, ATOS KPMG Consulting - South Africa.

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database, the Communication Initiative website and the website of the activity Background materials: a CATIA PDF file from 11/02/2005

  GSM Enabling Rural Computer Centers in Ghana 

Success Strategy: A model communication centre developed for rural and pre-urban communities, under an ICT project dubbed eCARE has been envisaged to revolutionarise communications in Ghana's rural areas. Initially, the centers will offer telephony and fax services with computers and internet access following shortly.

eCARE is an acronym for e-commerce and renewable energy in rural and peri-urban areas of Ghana. eCARE has been a community phone project by Ghana Telecom and multiple international partners since February 2005.

Sadly, these rural communication centres will only be available in areas where GT has ONEtouch GSM coverage. The Chief Executive Officer of GT, Mr. Oystein Bjorge, noted that even though communication could be a vehicle for development in the rural areas, it is not effective there, thus the need to embrace UNF's eCARE idea.

"Communication is not a game but a vehicle to bring development. Therefore services by entrepreneurs must be relevant to communities."

According to the project Manager, Anita Skagnaes, local Ghanaian entrepreneurs will be identified, screened and recruited to operate the rural business centres offering ICT service and value added services enabled by renewable energy.

"The eCARE project will offer streamlined support package to qualified rural entrepreneurs, training, pre-produced eCARE centre, follow up financial support, bulk airtime at affordable prices and discounted equipment with service agreement through project", she stated.

Rural participants will be required to certify under eCARE training programme, provide equity and suitable location for placement of eCARE, provide equity and suitable location for placement of eCARE centre, offer rural telephony and other approved services at reasonable rates, as well as cover all operating expenses and amortisation.

Currently, the first eCARE demonstrating centre is completed while a pilot project is scheduled to start at the end of May with the establishment of three eCARE Rural Business Centres at Nkurakan, Sege and Sogakope in the Accra, Eastern and Volta Regions respectively.

Target group: Rural entrepreneurs, youth, rural communities as a whole

Partners: Ghana Telecom (GT), United Nations Foundations, (UNF), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), ARB Apex Bank, Kumasi Institute for Technology and Environment (KITE), Telenor Management Partner (TMP)


  The World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT)

Success Strategy: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and its Member Nations highlight information as one of the priority areas in achieving agricultural development and food security. FAO established the World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT) as a corporate framework for agricultural information management and dissemination. This is a strategic effort to fight hunger with information. The WAICENT framework integrates and harmonizes standards, tools and procedures for the efficient and effective management and dissemination of high-quality technical information, including relevant and reliable statistics, texts, maps, and multimedia resources. WAICENT was established in response to the high priority accorded by FAO to the enhancement of access to timely and relevant technical information by FAO Member Nations and the general public as well as to the encouragement of FAO Member Nations to utilize information as a key resource for development. Since the creation of WAICENT in 1989, there have been enormous advances in information technology and the task of managing and disseminating information in a digital environment has become increasingly complex. Two tasks in particular are assuming greater importance: first to enable better access to FAO information resources and to promote partnerships with other agricultural information networks; and, second to assist FAO Member Nations to build their own capacity to manage and utilize food and agricultural information.

Partners: FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

  Rickshaws Connect India's Poor

Success Strategy: But still only around 23 million people have access to mobiles out of a population of 1.1 billion. A regional mobile phone company in India is taking a novel approach to drive up business and help the poor at the same time. Shyam Telecom operating in the state of Rajasthan has equipped a fleet of rickshaws with one or a couple of mobile phones. Drivers pedal these mobile payphones throughout the state capital, Jaipur, and the surrounding countryside providing exclusive opportunity for disadvantaged rural community members to make a call or send sms. The hand-pedalled rickshaws are equipped with a battery, a billing machine and a printer.

The rickshaw drivers, numbering around 200, are largely drawn from those at the margins of society - the disabled and women. The telecom company charges nothing for the initial set-up costs despite the 75,000 rupee ($1,641) price of the tricycle and equipment. The drivers take a 20% on every call, earning between 6,000 (US$131) to 9,000 ($197) rupees per month. Through these mobile payphones, some drivers are now able to be entirely self-reliant and even support a family of five people, says the company.

"The operator gets traffic on its network, the driver gets a commission and the consumers get access to affordable calling", she told BBC News Online, saying many companies could learn from Shyam's focus on customer service.

But Shyam is not limiting its novel interpretation of mobility just to voice services nor to tricycles. The company's latest innovation is a camel equipped with a wirelessly connected computer, for use in the desert, though just two animals are currently in commission at present.

And after discussion with the drivers, Shyam is also planning to add internet-ready laptops to the rickshaws.

Target group: Rural communities, disabled, women

Partners: Shyam Telecom

Source: BBC News website

  Bridging the Divide - China 

Success Strategy: Isolated physically and symbolically by the Great Wall, rural communities in Northern China have not been able to benefit much from the country’s burgeoning IT industry. Most of the huge rural population have never seen a telephone, let alone used the internet. Out of the country’s 800 million peasants, 30 million still live below the national poverty line, surviving on less than US$0.70 per day (Common Country Assessment, UN Country Team in China, 2003). A key strategy to stem the flow of migration is to create a stable, sustainable economy in rural areas, and to do this it is necessary to open up access to the rest of the world.

In December 2001, the China International Center for Economic & Technological Exchange (CICETE) and China Rural Technology Development Center (CRTDC) co-launched ‘Poverty Alleviation through Science & Technology in China’ with the aid of UNDP. Over a period of three years, five regions have been benefiting from the project deployment.

Telecentres were established and made operational in which training was delivered at several levels to build staff capacity to operate the centres effectively. Village staff, including women, undertook training in Bejiing in awareness raising, how use information effectively, and telecentre management and equipment operation. Newsletters and other materials were published to promote the centres.

Increased access and more various and rich knowledge opportunities through ICTs could have a direct positive impact on people’s livelihoods. For example, producers often receive only a tiny percentage of the final value of the product. Access to market information will allow them to: sell goods at a correct market value; understand the chain in which products are sold and therefore sell more directly; monitor trends, assess demand and plan accordingly, diversifying products and applying best practice techniques where appropriate.

This project has successfully connected rural poor in China to the wider world. It has exposed them to an information intensive society where they have been trained to use information to their advantage and improve the overall quality of life. It shows how ICTs can play a vital role in supporting economies in rural areas and hopefully stem a global problem of migration from rural to urban areas. The information gap between women and men has narrowed at the households and community levels within the pilot counties and it has informed China’s national strategy for poverty alleviation. Sustainable knowledge networks will play a growing part in providing appropriate information to meet needs of communities all over China.Target group: rural communitiesPartners: the Chinese Government Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the China International Center for Economic & Technological Exchange (CICETE) and China Rural Technology Development Centre (CRTDC), UNDP and the counties beneficiariesSource: UNDP Equator Initiative website

Background materials: China's Rural internet Information Centers: A Project to Reduce Poverty through Access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Rural Areas and UNDP Project Brief

  Wireless for Connected Rural Communities – India

Success Strategy: A project connecting numerous villages in southern India to the internet has thrust the population into the technology age and is an outstanding example of how, when implemented from the bottom up, information and communication technologies (ICTs) can truly meet the needs of the community.

The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation chose Pondicherry in southern India as the location for a new project in 1998, as part of its programme to take the benefits of emerging and frontier technologies to the rural poor. Out of a population of 22,000, around 4500 or approximately 20 per cent of the rural families in the area are officially classified as living below the poverty line, and half the population has a total family income equivalent to less than US$25 per month. Before the project began, the villagers shared 12 public telephones and 27 private telephones - less than one phone per 500 people.

The Foundation provided the villagers with computers, a printer, a wireless device, and a solar panel, specially designed websites in the local language and training programmes for the villagers. The Local Area Network (LAN) hub of the wireless system was installed in Villianur. The hub connects to the internet through dial-up telephone lines. Additional villages have now joined the network, but the hub was originally connected to four shops set up in different villages around Villianur, all within 15 kilometres - Kizhur, Embalam, Veerampattinamand Poornakuppam - using a mixture of wired and wireless technology to facilitates both voice and data transfer. Using wireless technology has saved substantial costs, as there was no existing tele infrastructure in the villages and it would have been very expensive to lay down copper or fibre optic cables to the villages. Power is supplied through a combination of solar photovoltaic panels and batteries. The batteries need to be continually topped up with water, but require no other maintenance.

The project aimed quite explicitly to engender collective ownership and equitable use in all sectors of the local community. Caste-based divisions are still a major problem in southern India, and the lower castes, particularly the Dalit population - known as ‘untouchables’, often do not benefit from new developments. The status of the women is similar and very often they are not allowed by the community to have access to ICTs facilities. In order to overcome these inequalities and give a chance to everybody to benefit from the centres, the villagers were actively involved in their establishment and management.

Paramount to the project's success is the information villagers can access. Once connected, users need to be able to find useful, relevant information. Of all internet hosts, 97 per cent are in developed nations and most of the information available on the internet is in English. The services provided by the Indian government, both in terms of technology and content, are wholly inadequate. To be of use to farm families, the generic information should be selectively compiled, edited, and integrated with local knowledge to make it relevant or useful in the local context. This model was adopted for implementation in Pondicherry and would be replicated in other Indian provinces.

The overwhelming positive impact of the project implemented in Pondicherry can be attributed to the design and manner in which it was implemented. Notably, the Foundation worked in partnership with the villagers right from the beginning, developing content that is relevant to the people and that takes into account their daily needs, their culture and their language. From this, farmers get the right price for their farm produce and wage-labourers get the right wages from their employers. The success of this project clearly demonstrates how, once given the opportunity, people can use ICTs to their advantage, building their knowledge and skills to improve their lives.

Target group: Rural communities, vulnerable and marginalized social groups

Partners: M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Canadian government


  • Motorola Gold (Despatch Solution) Award for the year 1999

  • Stockholm Challenge Award Winner under the Global Village category 2001

Source: UNDP - The Equator Initiative

  OKN in Nepal Raises Hopes Among Rural Women

Jhuwani Community Library

Success Strategy: For more than a decade, READ - Rural Education And Development, Nepal - has been building community libraries. These libraries are run with the active participation of the community and have their own income generating scheme for meeting operating costs and financial sustainability. Over time they have organically expanded into community centres, dynamically involved in the overall development activities of the community. The community libraries are contributing in diverse fields, such as education, health, empowerment, childhood development and cultural promotion. They provide knowledge, information, inspiration, support and above all motivation to drive the community into shaping its own future. The establishment of libraries spurs progress and development in the area, and this in turn creates positive changes and growth opportunities for the library itself. Launching of OKN in Nepal

In July, 2005, a new component was added to the myriad activities at Jhuwani Library - the Open Knowledge Network (OKN) project was launched. This project includes the installation of computers in the library and provision of training to the community on the use of computers for addressing issues in the community.   This could be possible by making the people more informed about more societies, by bridging the technological divide between men and women & rural and urban families. It is expected that they can also voice their concerns and share their experiences.

Women are looking forward to working on raising the status of rural women and creating space for their own identity. They are also hoping to use ICT tools to get united for their progress and achievement. The formation of women’s groups within the community centres has helped the women to gain self-confidence through increased interaction, encouraged their journey into the public sphere and honed them for participation in decision-making roles. Jhuwani Community Library and OKN are planning to continue organizing frequent awareness raising programs for women, and organizes interaction programs promoting dialogue and discussion around women's rights. This platform has helped them to identify problems within their areas and to seek solutions through dialogues with concerned parties.  

Partners: Jhuwani Community Library and the Open Knowledge Net (OKN)

Source: OneWorld website

  RADIO TOCO - Trinidad and Tobago

Success Strategy:
Radio Toco 106.7 FM, the first and only community-based radio station in Trinidad and Tobago was established in 1997 under the UNESCO Women-speaking-to-Women Programme in collaboration with the local NGO, T&T/CAN Citizens' Agenda. It has blossomed into a veritable laboratory for community mobilization and community broadcasat training in the fight against poverty and promotion of sustainable human development. Radio Toco is fully recognized as an outstanding FM medium for information sharing and exchange amongst the rural communities of North-Eastern Trinidad.

Radio Toco informs and educates the community through news and interviews, promotes community development, motivates women to become more proactive and supports sustainable development. It has given rise to social awareness and has engaged in the training of young people from the communities in radio broadcasting. To date, the station services a listenership of 80,000, including the sister island of Tobago.Partners: UNESCO, T&T/CAN Citizens' Agenda

Awards: Winner of the 2003 IPDC-UNESCO Rural Communication Prize Source: UNESCO’s website

  ACI Child Labour Project - Latin America and Caribbean

Success strategy: The Canadian International Development Agency supports the IACI Child Labour Project, in its goal to advance children's rights in the Latin America and Caribbean regions, by strengthening institutional capacity and developing a dialogue website.

Partners: Canadian International Development Agency - CIDA

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database

  ADEN Project (Appui au DEsenclavement Numerique)  

Success Strategy: ADEN aims to democratize the use of ICTs through the creation of some sixty public internet access points located in previously underserved sub-Saharan African areas. The ADEN centers will be places where everyone can access and learn to use the internet. The telecenters will be managed by associations, local authorities or educational institutions. They will be adapted to local specific needs and constraints and benefit to a wide audience with focus on civil society entities and local community members.

Nevertheless, the development of internet access is worthwhile only if an increasing number of users master that tool. Relying on African expertise, ADEN will set up forty train the trainer courses in the fields of network administration, organization and mediation in a public internet access point as well as in their proper management.

Today, less than 1% of the content on the web is African and practically all of the software is produced in northern countries. ADEN will make it possible to finance the development of computer applications suited to the African situation, install hosting servers in the South and publish original web contents providing users with real added value.

Increased access to Information and Communications Technologies call for the deployment of considerable efforts in training and initiation to the tools. This competence already exists in Africa, but now it is time to share this knowledge, held by few, with as many as possible. This is the reason why ADEN anticipates organizing training sessions, intended for managers of collective internet access points, so that they may in turn plan training sessions for the public at large. ADEN has been deploying activities in thirteen countries of Sub-Saharan Africa – Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Tanzania.  

Target group: Remote communities in Sub-Saharan Region

Partners: French Ministry of Foreign Affaires

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

  Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System for Asia - (Asia FIVIMS)

Success Strategy: The Asia FIVIMS Project has been developed in support of the Global Key Indicators Data System (KIDS) and the National FIVIMSs in Asia. It stirs and coordinates efforts to identify the most food insecure and vulnerable populations at sub-national level so that the countries can take appropriate actions and formulate targeted policies and programmes to improve the food security and nutritional status of affected population and livelihood groups. The programme focuses primarily on capacity building of national FIVIMS units and is aimed to operationalise FIVIMS in the context of national development and poverty alleviation strategies by providing support to building technical capacity in specific fields, including vulnerability assessments. It also helps build web-based dynamic data management, dissemination and mapping systems in the countries concerned. Dynamic mapping modules for Regional, Philippine and Thai FIVIMS applications are currently available.

Partners: FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and thewebsite of the activity

  Asia Pacific Initiative

Success Strategy: The Asia Pacific Initiative (API) was launched in 2003 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and is designed to promote collaborative research, online learning and capacity development.  

The API is a knowledge-sharing project and its first objective was to support the development of a new Media Studio to promote online multi-media broadcasting at the UN University. The blended approach intends to use new technologies to enhance joint capacity development activities involving satellite technology and the internet to link field based studies to online learning, communication and real-time next generation broadcasting. This studio functions now as one node in a networked virtual organisation composed by a growing number of partner universities, research institutions, NGOs and businesses in the region. Recent activities undertaken to date include multimedia-broadcasting experiments (Video over IP), case study development in Okinawa (Japan), the Bangkok (Thailand) and the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, as well as the development of courses on Asia Pacific Sustainability with support from FASID in Japan. Future pilot experiments will be undertaken in a range of areas including IP/internet broadcasting, video-on-demand, real-time streaming, e-learning and interactive communications, on various broadband infrastructure. Harnessing creative power through new technology is has become a vocation for the API network.  

Partners: UNU (United Nations University), Keio University, CISCO Systems (Japan), LEAD (Japan) and Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development (FASID) in Japan, Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand), The Institute of Global Environmental Strategies (Japan), The University of Hawaii (USA), Tsinghua University (China) and TERI (India)  

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

  Galileo - European Union

Success Strategy: GALILEO is a satellite radio navigation system. It was launched as an initiative by the European Union and the European Space Agency. In a few years time, this worldwide system will ascertain the users’ precise position in space and time in a very precise manner, in complementarity with the current GPS system. GALILEO is based on a constellation of 30 satellites and ground stations providing information concerning the positioning of users in many sectors such as transport (vehicle location, route searching, speed control, guidance systems, etc.), social services (e.g. aid for the disabled or elderly), the justice system and customs services (location of suspects, border controls), public works (geo-graphical information systems), search and rescue systems, or leisure (direction-finding at sea or in the mountains, etc.).

GALILEO will offer everybody everywhere satellite-positioning services with guaranteed reliability. Individuals, companies and administrations will all be able to benefit, whether on the roads, railways, in the skies or at sea: hikers will be able to find their way, and tourists will be able to find the museum or restaurant they are looking for, and taxi drivers will arrive at the right destination. However, this new global public service also has many professional applications, for instance in transport sector (road, rail, aviation, maritime and public transport), energy and telecom sector, agriculture, environment protection and support to people with disabilities. The universality of the service allow to benefit to a very wide spectrum of activities, from leisure to science and military work.

Here above we highlight tree ongoing projects started in 2002 and deployed under Galileo.

GADEROS - Galileo Demonstrator for Railway Operation Systems

GADEROS demonstrates the use of GNSS safety-of-life features for defining a satellite-based system to perform train location for safe railway applications that have been integrated into the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) / European Train Control System (ETCS). The system offers another technological approach for train location , mainly for conventional and low-density traffic lines.

For more information: GALILEO Pilot Project Sheet: GADEROS (66 Kb) and GADEROS Project Website

INSTANT - Infomobility services for safety-critical applications

INSTANT addresses sustainable mobility and intermodality and focuses on the management of large-scale events and emergency situations. In particular, it proposes safety-of-life applications in two different environments (sea and land) and in different land surroundings (urban, semi-urban). The 2004 Olympic Games were used as a case-study in order to witness the potential of INSTANT services for managing similar situations.

Applications will make extensive use of up-to-date GNSS receivers in close integration with other emerging technologies such as geo-information, mobile satellite communications, personal digital assistants, and mobile mapping software.

For more information:
GALILEO Pilot Project Sheet: INSTANT (61 Kb) and INSTANT Project Website 
NAUPLIOS - Improving safety in maritime navigation

The project demonstrates the added value of the GALILEO positioning and SAR services for commercial shipping. It will make use of the EGNOS Test Bed and six vessels equipped with autonomous terminals - an EGNOS receiver, a satellite telecom link and an Automatic Identification System (AIS). NAUPLIOS Control Centres monitor results, which will be adapted in a geographical information system and formatted prior to being transmitted to several kinds of end users.

NAUPLIOS will demonstrate how monitoring and surveillance of European waters can be improved such that risks can be identified at an early stage and measures can be taken to avoid major pollution incidents.

Partners: European Commission, DG Information Society

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

  District Capacity Building Project - Canada

Success Strategy: The purpose of the District Building Project (DISCAP) is to strengthen the capacities of local government bodies to manage, in collaboration with NGOs and other stakeholders, portable water and sanitation resources. The IT aspects of the project include: increasing connectivity within and across the three project regions and providing ICT support to their 24 Districts. The offices have been provided with computing and internet communication facilities.

Partners: Canadian International Development Agency - CIDA

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database

  Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Database

Success Strategy: The global telecommunications sector is in the process of continual change brought about by technological innovation and convergence, liberalization and dynamic private sector participation. These trends have contributed to economic growth and improved sector governance, while also producing an increasing number and variety of disputes that call for better, faster and more cost-effective resolution.

The ITU and the World Bank are currently working together on a project to make available a multi-lingual database of global regulatory decisions. The purpose of this database is to facilitate the interchange of ideas, experience and precedents among interested stakeholders around the world in order to promote a better application of effective dispute identification and dispute resolution techniques.

Partners: ITU (International Telecommunication Union), World Bank

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

  Hanoi Land Information Management

Success Strategy: The partners together have implemented a land information system (LIS) and a parallel training program in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Hanoi, in order to improve the city's land management and urban planning practices. This geomatic system in Hanoi has it provided transparent access for citizens, achieved a high level of district integration, and also simplified GIS, thanks to the J-Map software which is a web-based GIS solution.

Target group: Citizens of Hanoi, public administrations

Partners: Canadian International Development Agency – CIDA, the University of Montreal, the City of Montreal and the City of Hanoi

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database

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