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ICT Success Stories

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To find its place in today's world and prepare for a promising future, every community needs to lean on its grassroots and grow in creative vigour and self-confidence. Each of the initiatives highlighted below provides a glimpse into the creative ways that ICTs are being used for grassroots enhancement. While providing a small snapshot of how ICTs are helping developing countries raise new generations of indigenous knowledge producers and consumers, these cases offer a framework for using ICTs for the social and cultural advancement of other marginalized or prospering communities throughout the world.

ICT stories from the field

 Giri Pragna

Success Strategy: Giri Pragna means enriching tribal knowledge. ‘Tribals’ are aboriginals in their respective regions, miles away from civilization. Governments and Private Organizations presume that providing normal schooling is enough. ‘Giri Pragna’ Project is based on the concept of the IT Visionary Sri Rajendra Narendra Nimje that if opportunity is provided, tribals too can succeed. Giri Pragna provides opportunities to tribal children in 50 school complexes covering Class VI to X, 10,000 children per annum for computer education and Computer Aided Education and teacher’s training in a systematic way.


Computer Education syllabus can be changed as per the need every year which will ensure tuning with time. The broad band revolution is due in few years in India and the connectivity will change the methods of harnessing and evaluation of learning and teaching methods. Trained teachers during the initial period of three years will act as resource persons to cover hundreds of schools in Government sectors in coming years. Project is conceived as a continuous educational initiative and funds are provided for three years in advance. Many Non Resident Indians have shown interest to expand the project to other schools. Giri Pragna will cover all tribal families for computer education by 2008.

Partners: ITDA, Khammam owns the project who is the prime body for tribal development in Andhra Pradesh State. It has 50 School complexes in Khammam district for imparting primary and secondary education for tribal children. Project has tapped the resources of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), a Government of India’s initiative to strengthen education in the country. ITDA provided hardware, software, CBT material, furniture at each school complex. Trained computer professionals are deployed to provide training to students and teachers in all school complexes.

Awards: Stockholm Challenge Award 2005

Source: The Stockholm Challenge website

For more information: see the website of the organization

 eLangViet (e-Vietnamese Village)

Success Strategy: Vietnam is one of the Pacific Asian countries experiencing both the development divide against economically advanced countries and the internal digital divide. The complex ethnic mosaic of the country as well as the wide gap in revenues sets forth a premise for traditional social fragmentation. Which implies multiple technological spin offs. Disparities between rich and poor, between rural and urban population as well as between grassroot communities are tangible in terms of educational level, health status, quality of life, access to resources, and respectively to job opportunities and high income.

In order to intervene efficiently in this difficult context, eLang Viet partners have taken the challenge to address the issue of overall social development through the creation of an online network based on easy-to-understand Vietnamese-language know-how in health, education, agricultural production, crafts and trade. Information and knowledge can be accessed by the poorest sections of Vietnamese society through computers based in specially developed community telecentres. In addition, the local grassroots community is provided with relevant IT training in order to awake their curiosity and enhance their creativity and potential of autonomous action. The beneficiaries of the project are urged to take advantage of the facilities offered while bringing them the awareness of the value of the skills learnt to make their own decisions and choose their future personal and professional development. This approach can assure a sustainable and fruitful outcome of the project activities.

eLangViet operates initially in eight pilot villages with population of about 70 000 persons spread across six provinces. This pilot stage will last for two years before the network is rolled out across the provinces and then the country, based on the lessons learned. A further goal of the future deployment of the project on a national level would be to strengthen its domestic markets, contribute to the improvement of the general welfare and lead targeted coherent action for poverty reduction.

Target group: Grassroot communities in Vietnam

Partners: UNCTAD and UNDP under the Global Programme on Globalisation, Liberalisation and Sustainable Human Development

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

 Tajikistan-Uzbekistan: Silk Road Radio Project

Success Strategy: Silk-Road Radio was launched in Tajikistan in 1998, with its expansion to Uzbekistan in 1999 and to Kyrgyzstan in late 2004. Under the auspices of UNESCO Tashkent and co-financed by numbers of international agencies, Silk-Road Radio produces radio programs and delivers educational messages in the Central Asian countries to millions of listeners.

The flagship Soap Opera entitled "Har Dardning Davosi Bor" (A Cure for Every Ills) is a production of tight collaboration of Silk-Road Radio's Uzbek and Tajik creative teams, mostly covers the topics of rural population's concern. Another Soap Opera of Silk-Road Radio entitled "Shahar Bekatlari" (City Stations) targets more youthful and urban audience.

Each Silk-Road Radio Soap Opera accompanied with needs based short reports -storyline reports- that reinforces the themes of the Soap Operas from factual angle.

Using the more traditional technology of radio to reach large audiences in innovative and engaging ways, the Silk Road Radio Project in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan highlights contemporary issues and priorities through a twice-weekly radio drama series produced and transmitted in the country’s language - Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz.

Building on a centuries’ old tradition of story-telling in the region, the themes dealt with in the radio dramas can be grouped in three categories in accordance with the priority areas of the main funding agencies: family and reproductive health, agricultural themes, and contemporary national issues such as humane and considerate treatment of displaced and underprivileged groups in society, ethnic harmony and tolerance in society and the trafficking of women.

New themes are constantly surfacing in the light of ongoing needs assessment, consultation with stakeholders and audience research. These are incorporated in the radio drama storylines and scripts through existing and developing characters and scenarios. In this way, the Silk-Road Radio Project continues to be a medium for effective contemporary education, while also drawing attention to current, topical issues.

Target group: Uzbekistani, Tajik and Kyrgyz community

Partners: UNESCO, OHCHR: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, SDC:The Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation,urce: WSIS OSCE (Kyrgyzstan), UNFPA, British Embassy (Tashkent and Dushanbe), BBC

Source: Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

 Matapihi - New Zealand

Success Strategy: Matapihi is a window onto the online collections of a number of New Zealand cultural organisations. Matapihi lets the public search across the digital collections of different New Zealand organisations from one website. On launch, the service contained around 50,000 records. This number will increase as new partner organisations contribute. Items available through

Matapihi is about New Zealand, made in New Zealand, created by New Zealanders, or held in New Zealand collections. Geography, history, the natural environment, people and events are featured. It contains photographs, drawings, paintings, sculpture and some 3-d virtual museum objects, as well as a small number of sound files and textual items. Moving images will be added in the future.

The portal host also showcases or highlights built around particular themes and drawn from the collections of all Matapihi contributors. A sophisticated search tools are available for targeted research.

An additional merit of the website are the bi-lingual resources in English and Maori. The project is an excellent example of grassroot valorisation and awareness of its importance for a further development in the light of the emerging information society.

Partners: New Zealand - National Digital Forum

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website 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

 Digitization of Recordings of Traditional Chinese Music - China

Success Strategy: The project “Digitization of Recordings of Traditional Chinese Music” is aimed at making field recordings of Chinese music held by the Music Research Institute (MRI) of the Chinese Academy of Arts in Beijing digitally available. The collections which have has been included in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 1997, contain unique field recordings from the 1950s onward, which are in frequent demand. The project included the purchase and installation of equipment, the digitization itself and the creation of a website to provide access to the digitised collections.

The project “Digitization of Recordings of Traditional Chinese Music” is aimed at making field recordings of Chinese music held by the Music Research Institute (MRI) of the Chinese Academy of Arts in Beijing digitally available.

The collections, which have been included in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 1997, contain unique field recordings from the 1950s onward, which are in frequent demand.

The project included the purchase and installation of equipment, the digitization itself and the creation of a website to provide access to the digitised collections. For intermediary storage of the digitised signals a SCSI hard disk of highest available storage capacity is being used.

The Music Research Institute is the most important institution of its kind in China collecting and studying Chinese traditional music. Its archives holds 40,000 gramophone records and a collection of several thousand tapes with 7,000 hours' traditional music recordings collected from different nationalities all over the country.

Target group: Chinese community and diasporas

Partners: UNESCO, Chinese Academy of Arts/Music Research Institute (MRI); Austrian Research Sound Archives (Phonogrammarchiv)

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the webpage of the activity

 Digitization of Rare Books - Kazakhstan

Success Strategy: The project has started in 2004 gathering efforts and funds to support the digitization of parts of the rare books collections of the National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NLRK). Some of the books are included in UNESCO’ Memory of the World Register. NLRK’s rare book and manuscript collections include more than 25,000 titles in Kazakh, Russian, and other Eastern and European languages from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Among them are 400 manuscripts in Persian, Arabic, Chagatai, Old Slavic, and Korean languages.

Representatives of Kus Zholy and NLRK recently visited the Library of Alexandria in Egypt to exchange experiences in digitization projects. Returning from Alexandria, NLRK Director Mukhtar Auezov said: "We were pleased to see the results of the support given to the library. This is also an excellent example of the way how national authorities support the storage of the national and International written heritage".

Target group: Kazakhstan community and diasporas

Partners: National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NLRK), UNESCO, sponsored by IBM and the "Kus Zholy" Foundation of Kazkommertzbank

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the webpage of the activity

Picture: Page form "The Book of Wisdom" © National Library of Kazakhstan

 Digital Silk Roads Initiative

Success Strategy: The Digital Silk Roads Initiative Framework is an international collaborative framework functioning through interdisciplinary activities with a far-reaching mandate to promote effective digital storage, restoration and exchanges of cultural heritage residing in the Silk Roads region that aims to enhance international cooperation in building Digital Silk Roads. The initiative has a special focus on the deep interaction among cultures and civilizations which took place throughout history, thus highlighting cultural diversity in the region concerned.

"In addition to their use as silk trade routes, the silk roads covering Eurasia from China to Italy helped to spread ideas, values, cultures and knowledge. The resulting enrichment and technological progress contributed significantly to the flourishing and development of civilizations.", affirm UNESCO organisers.

The purpose of UNESCO is to set forth in its Constitution of contributing to peace and promoting international intellectual cooperation through education, science and culture, the importance of digital technologies as new and powerful tools for the promotion of intercultural dialogue and diversity and as a means of preserving the memory of human cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, through cultural heritage restoration and archiving.

The intent of this event is to improve partnership with experts and cultural heritage organisations across the world in order to make use of digital technologies as a sound platform for better mobilizing national resources for the building of Digital Silk Roads and passing them on to future generations by utilising advanced information technology.

Partners: UNESCO, National Institute of Informatics (NII) of Japan

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

 Reaching the Global Market with PEOPLink

Success Strategy: PEOPLink, a non-profit organization, employs a grassroots strategy to help artisans in over 22 less developed countries use the internet to reach world markets.  Working at a grassroots level, PEOPLink has opened doors for many aspiring artists the world over by providing them with digital imaging and internet technologies.  To demonstrate the effectiveness of the PEOPLink’s e-commerce strategy, there are a couple of ongoing programmes in Nepal and India that illustrate how the organization brings producers and potential buyers together via the internet.  These two projects highlight how PEOPLink establishes links at the community level to help them express the unique features of their culture, while helping the small businesses gain access to the global economy.  

For more information: see and or 

Background materials: see the PEOPLink case study

 Living Heritage (Tikanga Tuku Iho)- New Zealand

Success Strategy: Living Heritage is an online bilingual initiative that enables New Zealand schools to develop and publish an online resource, based on a heritage treasure in their community. It is aimed at preserving history and culture in a digital format for every generation as well as allowing children's voices to present a view of New Zealand on the World Wide Web.

Living Heritage aims to show the world New Zealand's unique cultural and historical treasures, or taonga, by:

  • encouraging the preservation of our heritage for today's and future generations;
  • creating and maintaining an online "living" database of original heritage resources;
  • motivating students and creating more effective learning and teaching, with the latest information communication technology;
  • providing meaningful activities and learning contexts;
  • assisting schools and teachers to become confident and successful in using online technology;
  • encouraging all New Zealand schools to participate in Living Heritage.

The strategy of the initiative is to incite every community member to identify a unique and important piece of local heritage to share on the Web such as the story of a local person, family, event, landmark, marae or building.

"These websites preserve New Zealand's heritage through the eyes of school children, using digital technology to capture it for future generations. We have selected these three schools for the inaugural Awards for their creative contribution to the preservation of New Zealand's history and culture and for consistency with our aims in UNESCO, " says Chairperson of the NZ National Commission to UNESCO, Hon. Margaret Austin.

The NZ National Commission for UNESCO has established the Award - UNESCO Living Heritage Award - to celebrate New Zealand schools' achievements in capturing heritage resources for future generations. Sevral websites have been recognized already, including Campbell's Bay School (Auckland) for the project World War Two at our School, St Joseph's School (Oamaru) for The Walkways of Oamaru and St Peter's College (Palmerston North) for Opiki Toll Bridge: A History.

Target group: all citizens with special focus on youth

Partners: 2020 Communications Trust in partnership with The Learning Centre Trust of New Zealand, The National Library of New Zealand, Sun Microsystems and Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa

Awards: Stockholm Challenge Award Finalist 2002, Global Junior Challenge Finalist 2002

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

 Cemmozhi Tamil Tutor CD ROM - Kerala, India

Success strategy: Information technology has many tongues, and the power of this new tool is helping bridge the language gap that straddles the diversity of India. A firm here has come out with its third language tutor, that makes it easier to learn a new tongue.

After working on Hindi and Malayalam, the Ernakulam-based Allenpark Infotech has brought out its Cemmozhi Tamil Tutor CD ROM which, it says, "is a combination of learning and fun". It starts with the alphabets, offers a writing skill section, lessons for vocabulary practice, speech practice, stories, songs and proverbs and selected verses of ancient Tamil classics -- Thirukkural, Aathichudi and Kotraivendhan with notes in Tamil and English.

This CD's writing skill section allows users to prepare a work book by taking printouts of the alphabets. To sharpen one's pronounciation, it offers a record-and-compare facility.

"We look forward to employ the advancements in multimedia for the sake of Indian languages -- and hence our titles like Vidyarambh Hindi and Malayalam Tutors. Tamil is the ancient most Dravidian language, which can claim a proud history of thousands of years," said Thejus.

Thejus said the lack of options for expat Tamils to learn their mother-tongue were shrinking, due to the "lack of efficient learning aids".

Later this year, this firm plans to release new titles for Gujrati and Bengali. "The script works and researches for the same is in full swing. Another title meant for the kids, for those who take the first step to learning is also in the production," said Thejus.

The firm says their Malayalam and Hindi Tutor CD ROMs have been receiving a "warm responses" from various parts of the world. "Many language classes organized by different community organizations have included our CD ROMs as their teaching and learning materials. Various associations for promoting Indian Language and culture has also welcomed the CDs wholeheartedly," claimed Thejus.

Basically the CD is meant for those who are new to the language. For instance, to learn Tamil using Cemmozhi, the learner not at all requires prior experience in the language.

Partners: Allenpark Infotech

Source: mail message of Frederick Noronha to the bytes4all readers mailing list on the 3 June 2005

For more information: see

 CyberEthiopia Initiative

Success Strategy: Africa’s oldest alphabet, the Ethiopian, used for written communication since 100 BC, has been facing the challenge of the digital multilingualism and the development of the local script for digital use. Moreover, the Ethiopians’ digital inclusion and full participation in the information society has been perceived as a major endeavour and targeted action has been undertaken through CyberEthiopia in order to assure it.

The CyberEthiopia initiative has the following objectives:

  • Information dissemination: the website of the organisation has the ambition to serve as a reference on the World Wide Web for timely, relevant and accurate information related to Ethiopia and the Ethiopians.

  • Technology boost: research, technology studies and applications are developed to advance the usage of the millenary Ethiopian alphabet on the Internet and encourage activities related to the usage of the new technologies by Ethiopians at large.

  • Communication upgrade: the organisation is intended to foster dialogue, collaboration and knowledge sharing among Ethiopians (both inside and outside the country), in particular by offering local content and appropriate e-forums in local Ethiopian languages in an open, free, and democratic spirit.

  • ICTs for Development: the aim of initiating a “cyberculture” among Ethiopians through ICTs in numerous domains with regards to the overall development of the country. In accordance with the objectives outlined above, the organization is engaged in the pursuit of the a variety of activities, from press releases and electronic services to e-forums on various socio-economic, cultural and other issues of interest in line with defined rules of conduct and hence enhance information exchange between various civic and professional networks.

The strategy of the initiative is working successfully and the number of visitors on the website is constantly growing. The resources provided not just serve as valuable input for professionals and wider public in various fields of expertise (health, engineering, economy, agronomy, journalism and media, business, decision-making, etc) to reflect and act on how to build a multi-level, fluid and efficient network, fully benefiting form the in-land and Diaspora potential of Ethiopia.


Source: website

Background materials: Case study “Cultural Identity and Local Content Development on the World Wide Web: The CyberEthiopia Initiative”

 Australian Heritage Photo Library (AHPL)

Success Strategy: The Australian Heritage Photographic Library (AHPL) maintains a collection of more than 120,000 images. This collection is an outstanding source of information about Australia's natural and cultural heritage places. These images illustrate the story of who we are and how this land has taken shape and given Australia its very particular identity. The photos show that our heritage is far more than just outstanding icons like the Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It also consists of often-unsung places such as the Bonegilla migrant camp, Country Women's Association halls, Aboriginal missions and bushland remnants, which, added together, make this country unique.

Partners: Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Heritage

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

 Baldati (My Village) - Lebanon

Success Strategy: Baldati is a patriotic environmental & heritage preservation oriented resource promoting national development, cultural solidarity and tolerance and local empowerment. Once the platform was set up, members organized in groups build on new content to develop the website. Baladati members aim at developing simple and practical methods by which to revive Lebanese villages, reunite their communities, support their institutions, and encourage dialogue at all levels.

Baldati - The World Villages was brought up by the awareness of the need of finding a simple and practical way to empower communities. An initiative was launched to create a virtual network of villages and community members through the Internet believing that communication is the first step in solving the social problems of villages, since these problems are aggravated by the solitude and isolation of village societies.

There are two possible memberships. Club & hobby fellows could exchange opinions, useful links or explore detailed local geographic maps. The second “plan” offers the opportunities to get involved in several activities including training, promotion and eco-tourism. The site is not purely informative and goes interactive in order to raise awareness and incite peoples to get in touch with other members with the same origins or similar interests. Different discussion and action groups are mobilized through the website. Hyde Park, the Lebanese Parliament forum offers to members numerous information and analysis on hot political issues such as elections, parliamentary debates and projects for new lows. Ecology and heritage preservation are promoted through a comprehensive set of thematic data, picture gallery and historical highlights. Clubs on health issues, photography, architecture, music, sports and leisure are structured and vehiculed by electronic means. Events organisation, registration and payments are online.

The concept of the website was driven by the idea to connect Lebanese villages, local communities and diaspora inside or outside Lebanon on the net so people could share visions, thoughts and concerns. Thus, Baldati reveals as a framework for virtual community life without borders. As a virtual place of socialization, intense communication and genesis of social consensus and mutual understanding, Baldati is a social facilitator and grassroots resource. We could regret therefore the lack of important facilities in Arabic. is a portal containing at present links among and to more then 1468 Lebanese village, 20 club, 192 Diaspora countries. The project is currently covering Lebanon but there are ongoing efforts of making it regional. The concept of accessible and open to all virtual community is likely to answer to social development imperatives in the Middle East area.

Target group: Local communities, all citizens

Partners: Baldati Founding Commitee

Source: WSIS Stocktaking Database and the website of the activity

 ICTs to Protect Cultural Heritage

Success Strategy: Despite the many positive effects of globalization, the cultural heritage, customs and traditions of different peoples may be in danger of being weakened.  ICTs can help preserve the cultural heritage of communities for future generations.  In an effort to preserve traditional norms of Mayans, for example, USAID is helping Mayan communities develop the skills that are necessary to use ICTs to preserve their culture.  In one project, school children equipped with digital cameras and tape recorders visit remote villages to collect and document stories and insights. The students then compile their findings and publish them in books.    

For more information: see the information gathered from USAID/Guatemala mission at

Success Strategy: Another effort to ensure that cultural systems remain intact as globalization sweeps the world is the African Cultural Conservation Fund’s (ACCF) project in Mali.  By combining a bank, education centre and a museum, the ACCF’s Culture Bank is designed to promote awareness of Malian culture, while giving villagers micro loans (between USD 5-40) for sustainability. In collaboration with Georgetown University and the World Bank, the ACCF created a website to help educate people, mainly in affluent, urban areas, about the importance of preserving Malian culture and helping marginalized peoples move out of poverty.  The site, which will eventually be used as a repository of information for other ACCF-sponsored projects hopes to attract donations to help protect the uniqueness of African societies. 

For more information: see and

 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 prominent farm 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.

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