IDAP has a great belief in the hopes of community-level groups. It has also been humbled by the sheer innovativeness, optimism and tenacity of rural communities in pursuing noble goals they believe in. For a long time, development practitioners, including state agencies, corporate sectors, the academia and civil society organisations, have been unable to appreciate the utility value, the empowering potential and the poverty-reducing component of the emergent Information Communication and Technologies (ICTs).
In rural areas, development and the improvements to quality of life is often limited by access to basic education, health, water and sanitation services. In addition, this is lately also limited by access to financial credit for women. While these are important social development benchmarks, they nonetheless form the necessary and sufficient requisites for comprehensive response to the enhancement of quality of life for rural populations. The Center for Local Initiatives in Communication for Human Empowerment (CLICHÉ), which IDAP is setting up, is therefore our modest contribution to the efforts of these communities to succeed against all odds and adversities. It is for this reason that IDAP has come up with this intervention strategy to try and connect the rural areas with the rest of the world in the area of ICT.
In Alego and Ugunja, rural primary schools such schools as Anduro, Pap Boro, Mulaha, Liganwa and Awelo, Lunjre, Got Osimbo, Bar Athen’g, Ran’gala and Ugolwe have often serve as the center of their communities. Primary school teachers are viewed as respected educators and community leaders. Primary schools, unlike secondary schools, are usually constructed and supported directly by the community, and host pupils solely from the local area. Most community residents remember fondly their time spent attending elementary school, which is time and again the highest level of education residents obtain.
Residents feel much more comfortable working in local primary schools than an unfamiliar high school or university. Most of these primary schools and their pupils have not benefited from programmes providing computers for education and it is our intention to facilitate this. With CLICHÉ, we feel that it is essential that children receive computer exposure as early as possible in life, and we shall strive to achieve this objective.
As we were already running rainwater projects in Anduro, Pap Boro, Mulaha, Liganwa and Awelo primary schools, it was logical to use these schools in our pilot ICT programme. Not only will we be able to provide ICT resources to a sector of the school system not yet targeted by similar programmes, but more importantly we will be able to access the existing network primary school teachers possess within their communities as role models in their rural societies. In this manner we will use them as goodwill ambassadors for the programme. Our project's primary goal is to work with the schools and the local community leaders first, and to ensure that rural Kenya receives the technology and training that it needs.
The 'digital divide' between rural and urban Kenya and Africa at large is immense. While most comparisons of technology levels occur between the highest examples of technology in comparative cultures (for example between Tokyo and Nairobi), in Africa the most pressing disparity lies between the large cities and the rural communities. Lack of good transportation systems (roads, railways, air) and infrastructure (phone lines, internet) as well as lack of housing facilities, makes implementation of ICT especially difficult in rural areas. However, it is also these areas that can most benefit from technology.
The recent development of laying fiber optic cable to connect the region with other parts of the world provides the opportunity to make maximise use of ICT as a technology. However, as of yet there is little understanding of the possible benefits from modern communication technology particularly in rural areas. This is due to a lack of awareness and understanding on the part of villagers. Technology has never been a part of life for them and thus their world-view does not make use of technology in confronting challenges. This is also due to a lack of awareness of outside cultures and their ways of life, including those in larger cities. Rural areas must first be addressed before we can turn our focus on the divide between Eastern Africa and other countries in Africa as well as the rest of the world.
IDAP intends to set up Electronic School Resource centers and Rural Community Tele-centres to provide Satellite Internet services through the use of Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs). Due to the fact that many areas of the county are not served by electricity power on the national grid, solar power will be used as the main source of energy to run the machines in the interim. For a long time, development practitioners, including state agencies, corporate sectors, the academia and civil society organizations, have been unable to appreciate the utility value, the empowering potential and poverty-reducing component of the emergent Information Communication and Technologies.
Development and the improvement of quality of life for rural people are often limited to the access to basic education, health services, water, and sanitation and, of late, access to credit for rural women. While these are important social development benchmarks, they nonetheless form the necessary and sufficient requisites for comprehensive response for the enhancement of quality of life of the rural populations.
There is no gainsaying that information and knowledge are vital building blocks of social development, particularly in this era of knowledge-led human progress. It is therefore saddening to observe that information and communication technological development has by and large given rural communities such a wide gap that it is impossible to believe that a herdsman in Turkana (some remote place in Kenya) or a fish-mongering woman in Nyatike of Nyanza in Western Kenya do share the same planet with an Internet buff and computer nerd at Silicon Valley in USA, the popularized refrain of our world being a global village notwithstanding.
Through information and communications technology, a borderless network of connection and affiliation between people is being woven globally at increasing speed, spanning the traditional information divides and increasingly bridging the ‘digital divide’. Communication’s lifeblood is information sharing and providing people with what they need to take effective action on both externally and internally. It is imperative that we invest in technology to further our mission, support effective action and achieve the growth and diversity we need.
A young school girl displaying an e-reader during the launch of these devises at the Siaya Community Library.
The library is part of the Education Program spearheaded by the Integrated
Development Africa Programme (IDAP)
Enthusiastic kids who form the bench of patrons in the Siaya community library enjoying themselves as they
browse e-reader devices.
Computer library inside the siaya community library,Patrons are able to access the internet and do research.
New electronic devices that weredonated by world reader international have become popular with the
Children as they hold more than 3,000 books easily accessible.The two children
are going through the curriculum books.
One of the representatives of world reader international showing children the functions
of an elecronic devicedonated to the siaya community library.