Bridging the digital divide through technology has been the focus of many initiatives worldwide. Madanmohan Rao provides a summary of various such projects in his report on the IT Summit 2002 held in Nepal:
FarmNet (for agricultural workers in Uganda)
Nabweru and Buwama telecentres (for economic empowerment of women in Uganda)
Rural Multipurpose Community Telecentres (libraries and online centres in Benin, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda)
MahilaWeb (for information sharing about women and gender in Nepal)
Pakissan (for farmers in Pakistan)
PeopLink (artisans portal for 22 developing countries)
Tortas (e-commerce portal for homemade cakes made by Peruvian women)
Bankilare (a community network in Niger)
Across Borders (connecting Palestinians in refuge camps)
MarketWatch (price information service in Mongolia)
Nairobits (Web services centre for slum children in Kenya)
Street Children Telecentre (for IT skills in Ecuador)
Mountain Forum (for knowledge sharing on mountainous region communities in over 100 countries on topics like renewable energy, agro-industry, potato research)
Virtual Souk (for underprivileged artisans in the Middle East and North Africa)
Multipurpose Community Telecentres (in four farming and fishing villages of northern Mindanano in the Philippines)
GrameenPhone (in Bangladesh)
HealthInfo (for IT among health workers in Ethiopia)
Village Leap (for selling scarves made by Cambodian women)
Metrocomia (outsourced Web services centres in about a dozen countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia),
Communications Boat Project (to bring IT tools via boats to Amazonian communities)
Malaysia has come up with a number of “demonstration applications” such as Project Cybercare for providing Internet access and educational resources among 26 networked orphanages and a telecentre called e-Bario has also been set up for the Kelabit ethnic community in rural Sarawak.
Examples in India include:
TaraHaat (for e-marketing in rural areas)
AkashGanga (for dairy cooperatives in Gujarat)
Warna Wired Village Project (for sugarcane farmers in Maharashtra)
HoneyBee Network (documenting grassroots innovations for knowledge on sustainable natural resource management)
Gyandoot (community centre network in rural Madhya Pradesh).
The National Informatics Centre is proposing a “Rural Studio” initiative for developing reusable software components and services for the rural development sector, and IndianVolunteers.org networks volunteers interested in such initiatives.
Kerala is rolling out an “e-governance grid” via a network of information kiosks providing sales tax forms, income certificates, domicile certificates, ration card forms, and company registration.
We will take a closer look at some of the Indian projects, beginning with the one which has generated the maximum interest Madhya Pradeshs Gyandoot.
TECH TALK Transforming Rural India+T