As the Internet Café continues to develop, Grant has been working closely with ICOD to implement an Agriculture Information Sharing Program to bring better agriculture practices to rural villages surrounding Lyantonde. Our latest video blog highlights two group leaders who are receiving free ICT training so they can retrieve necessary information from the Internet and share it with their local farming communities. We’re also excited to announce that ICOD’s Director, Ahabwe Michael, has taken over the video camera and will be continuing our Vlog series that documents the progress of the Internet Café.
We're proud to introduce Michael's first video! (Link below)
Director of ICOD, our Ugandan partner, publishes a letter in Uganda's leading newspaper - the Monitor:
ICT is Key to Rural Development
‘…most farmers still lack access to information that is vital like commodity prices, accurate weather forecasts, availability of markets and what to grow when, using which technology…’ Ms Maractho wrote in a well-thought out article in Daily Monitor of June 29 about the importance of ICT in empowering rural farmers.
I agree with Ms Maractho that the government and related institutions have failed farmers, especially in equipping them with the skills relevant in their lives. And with NAADS performance in the spotlight, it’s time to explore other avenues of enabling farmers to benefit from their enterprises.
When farmers lack access to information relevant in their daily lives, it increases their chances of being exploited by middlemen. Due to the collapse of cooperative marketing boards, less than 5 per cent of rural farmers directly sell their produce to national or international markets, and lack access to information on crops/animal diseases, prevention of such diseases and weather forecasts.
The year 2011 is beckoning on the wings of promises of heaven and earth! Recently, an aspiring political leader spoke at a rural NGO’s launch of an ICT centre and he had good news for the folks in attendance (who included my parents)… “You should always vote people like us who have brought this service to you. In addition to this, I am giving so-and-so village a Shs300 million feeder road so that you can stop complaining.”
Everyone clapped and the political leader smiled. Was he smiling because the masses had fallen for his fiction, or was it for the “service” that he had brought them? Maybe both! False promises to offer essential services may earn a politician votes but they keep rural folks marred in poverty. Access to information about one’s life and environment is vital to changing them. As Ms Maractho put it, ICT is key to empowering farmers and must be adopted in rural development.
It is important to establish ICT centres with the aim to help Selected farmer’s group members and to train a network of people living with Aids in computer and Internet use. The centres will be able to collect and locally relay information that the community group has requested from the Internet. With approaches like this, I am certain that the rural population can be empowered and can find their way out of poverty.
Michael M. Ahabwe,
Its finally here! On June 5th, 2010 the Lyantonde Internet Center was launched. This project is a collaborative effort between ICOD and Project FOCUS several years in the making. We are very grateful to those who have supported us in this endeavor and are excited about the information the center will bring to the community of Lyantonde. The cafe is connected through a satellite internet access and powered by solar panels. This video blog shows the creation and opening of the cafe. There was a bicycle race to commence opening day festivities along with a lot of excitement and good spirit.
View our 4th video log:
In this third video blog we get a look at the Bwera Information Center. The center was founded in 2003 as a community based organization and is run and owned by a consortium of about 40 local civil society organizations. Its mission is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of the predominantly rural farming communities, with a special focus on women and marginalized groups.
On a demand driven basis, BIC provides information on agriculture, marketing, soil and water conservation, human rights, good governance, basic health care, HIV/AIDS, environmental protection, education, gender and peaceful conflict resolution and coexistence. BIC has grown into a centre where local people meet and freely share information and meet Martin a member of ICOD.
Five farmers within the Lyantonde community will learn about effective IT communication and information dissemination through the center. We also meet Martin, a community development officer within ICOD who talks about the importance of the information Bwera had to offer.
View the video here:
This week, Project FOCUS was featured on Inveneo's ICTworks site as a model for fundraising in their story, 'How to Fundraise Money for Computer Labs and Internet Cafes in 3 Easy Steps.' While I can't think of anyone in Project FOCUS who would put the words "fundraising" and "easy" in the same sentence, Inveneo does a great job of highlighting the key components of our fundraising strategy.
Inveneo is a partner with Project FOCUS in establishing the internet cafe in Lyantonde. They are a non-profit social enterprise that gets the tools of information communications technology to people and organizations in rural and highly underserved communities of the developing world. Click here to visit Inveneo's website:
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