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AFRIK-IT  April 1996

AFRIK-IT April 1996

Subject:

Re: Internet influence on rural development

From:

Dr Eberhard W Lisse <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Sat, 20 Apr 1996 00:09:47 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (110 lines)

Richard,
 
At 2:19 PM 17/4/96, Richard Heeks wrote:
>Abubakr Alkahlifa wrote:
>> The answer is:
>> Use it - the Internet - in empowering those 1.3 billion people with the
>> critical, vital, complex, inaccessible, and/or unavailable information
>> that they desperately lack.
>
>It's not information they desperately lack.  It's clean water; it's
>money; and it's basic food-/income-generating technology.
 
I have put it like this: Water, Health, Agriculture, Education, Infrastructure
but not necessarily in this order.
 
>You cannot, as Haines suggest, 'put aside the technical side of the
>question'.  Clean water technology is far simpler than anything to do
>with computers or the Internet, yet it has still failed to reach a
>large portion of the planet even after the UN Clean Water Decade.
>How much less likely, then, is it that IT is going to arrive.
 
Indeed. Our Water Department is realy good, you can drink it anywhere,
and they fancy themselves IT experts, but they didn't need any IP
connectivity yet other than a couple of guys at head office.
 
>By all means plan for the future, but don't do so on the assumption
>that some very recent technology should be the focus.  The problem
>with this approach is that it is diverting development agencies from
>attending to real, immediate problems.
 
Well put.
 
>When people start believing crazy comments such as, "There is
>probably no practical way to bring education into rural areas in many
>parts of Africa without computer mediated distance learning.", then
>development assistance is going to be in real trouble.  Donors and
>development organisations are going to be spending their resources
>on insane Internet schemes instead of on things like rural schools,
>books, teacher training, etc.  Yes, that's right, education goes on
>in rural areas right now using amazing innovations like building
>schools and paying teachers to teach in them.  Not very sexy, but at
>least partly successful.
 
Let me emphazise this by some calculations, with a 3% net population growth
which is a conservative figure for Namibia, and 1.5 Million we'll have about
45000 more children every year. (Give or take a couple of thousands).
That makes roughly 850 per week, a nice number that you can fit into one
school. In other words we should be building one school per week and unleash
the correspoding number of teachers from the Training Colleges...
 
>Reality checks are desperately important for anyone thinking about IT
>and development.  Perfectly illustrated by the fact that a number of
>people took the idea of web pages for rural farmers seriously.
 
I must confess, you had me going there for a while, had you not chosen
Nigeria as the example.
 
>For at least the next two decades, the best hope is that IT can
>somehow be used FOR the poor (i.e. within towns and cities by
>development organisations) not that it will be used BY the poor or
>even in the localities of the poor.
 
[...] This again is from Abu
>> Suggestion:   If we have 1 nurse/10 villages, we can provide him/her with
>> an Information system to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of the
>> patients who might otherwise die before any of them is seen by a doctor.
[...]
>> Internet's role:   The Internet can allow such a nurse to consult with an
>> on-line "physician-on-duty" via a talk session or plain e-mail, to submit
>> a "symptoms form" to an expert system physically residing in the other
>> side of the Globe, or request emergency medications for her patients.
>>
>> Not only this, but:   I.T. can assist the poor in many areas, such as:
>>
>> + Health: e.g., Diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
>> + Nutrition: e.g., Optimization of expenditure on food.
>> + Endangered Practices: e.g., -Valid- traditional medicine.
>> + Agriculture: e.g., Agricultural extension, production, and marketing.
>> + Education: e.g., Literacy, training, distant education.
>> + Communication: e.g., Early warning systems, regional collaboration.
 
This is clearly the wrong approach and never going to work. I speak here from
experience, I *DO* work on a daily basis with primary health care nurses in two
outlying clinics. FORGET about it!!!
 
Endangered Practices? Now we are going to become PC? We need to get away
from these witch doctors who are killing off the uninformed, and you want to
put them on IP?
 
A fortune will be thrown out of the window if you manage to convice some
ignoramus at an aid agency to fund these insane schemes. This money should
rather be put into direct projects.
 
 
But I understand some of the motivation behind this, which may be quite honorable,
if ill advised/informed. Sooner or later you'll have to come back, right? So you need
a ticket...
 
 
el
 
 
--
Dr. Eberhard W. Lisse   \         /              Swakopmund State Hospital
<[log in to unmask]>            *        |               Resident Medical Officer
Private Bag 5004          \      /      +264 64  461503 (pager) 461005 (home) 461004 (fax)
Swakopmund, Namibia        ;____/ Zone/Domain Contact for the NA-DOM
Vice-Chairman, Board of Trustees, Namibian Internet Development Foundation,
an Association not for Gain. NAMIDEF is the Namibian Internet Service Provider.

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