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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 08:39:31 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (116 lines)

At 1:43 PM 18/4/96, Michael Epah wrote:
[...]
>            I know of cases in Cameroon (I am cameroonian) where even
>            primary schoolteachers and medical nurses, not to talk of
>            secondary schoolteachers and medical doctors, refused to be
>            transferred to rural areas because they didn't want to be cut
>            off from the rest of Cameroon. Today it is a question of not
>            being cut off from the rest of the world.
 
I have worked in the northern rural area of Namibia, the capital and now again
the rural area (but this time it is in a coastal resort, so it ain't too bad :-)-O)
 
In Oshakati we received a "Northern Area Allowance" nowadays called
"Privation Package". Among other perks such as free housing, free gas for cooking,
more money, it entailed a monthly paid trip to a town  200km away...
 
And I was lucky, Oshakati is a regional hospital with many doctors so you got people
to talk to. I could have been in Opuwo where you are three doctors. This is 400 km
of the nearest town, they don't even have a bakery there. And of course only farm
lines (manual switchboard, but I have known TelCom switchboard operators to
be very nice andwe have two PPP accounts on our gateway that come from such
lines, the operators wait until they hear the modem squeal adn they automatically
dial the next number if one is busy :-)-O)
 
 
Now why would one *VOLUNTEER* to go there? Unless one is guaranteed a return
to the center after two years such as in Namibia.
 
 
And of course the workload is much much higher just for the after hour calls that
have to be shared by less people. There is little to no supervision and the next
specialist is *HOURS* away. We are currently four doctors and have three on
call every day, one is however going to leave by the end of the year meaning we
never really goof off...
 
I forgot the schools, I volunteered for the priphery this time because Swakopmund
has a decent school system and ameities (and does *NOT* qualify for Privation
Package) and I was getting bored from the life in the capital.
 
And, I always wanted to be a Beach Bum :-)-O
 
[...]
>        * Help reduce rural exodus for reasons mentioned above.
>          You can include me in the statistics on rural exodus
>          I am presently not living in rural Cameroon but in Germany.
 
Well thought out packages, like ours will help. All junior doctors *MUST* go for
two years to the periphery but they get carried one year on a peripheral
post while being trained in the central hospital, housing is usually a problem
but the juniosr colleagues have now adopted the approach that they will
not leave the capital unless they get thre key for the house or flat before they
leave, works well. Supervision is essential, have specialists go out there regularily
and assist in operations, give lectures and consult on patients. Relief for vacation
must be organized (a roving Senior Medical Officer for the region for example)
 
[...]
 
>Another area where we shouldn't mix up things is the Question of whether
>Internet access should come before access to clean water and or food-/
>income-generating technology. Before dealing with this issue it is important
>to make ones starting points or assumptions clear to the others.
>This brings me to my second assumption:
[...]
> B)  If instead the person or company that came to me said:
>     "I have only Internet access to offer you. Are you going to accept
>      my offer or not ?"
[...]
>
>     then:
>        It would be wrong to start arguing about whether access to
>        clean water should come first or not.
>        Remember the person cannot or is not willing to give you anything
>        but Internet access now.
>
>        My choice will be clear without hesitation:
>        Give the Internet access now !!!
 
This is a very good contribution, but of course totally wrong. In fact it sheds
light on a huge problem in development, the "White Elefant", because it translates
into developing countries having to accept the most ridiculous, ill researched, top
down "projects" (we call this to pull a UNESCO here :-)-O)  because as one of my
colleagues from Niger put it: "But, they have the money, so they decide."
 
Au contraire :-)-O.  This is Imperialism, and as far as I know that is not on any more.
 
Draw a line and tell them: "Take your Internet, we can't use it, we need water,
agriculture etc. We have got this project going here, why don't you support it
instead". They will respond positively.
 
UNDP's SDNP program is very positive, promising example, they are going away
from the top down approach and note that local expertise is there...
 
>        To me it is not a question of access to clean water or access
>        to medical facilities or food-/income generating technology etc
>        (The "or" here is meant to be exclusive)
>        No, to me it is all of them. So if someone can/will only offer
>        me Internet access, then no problem, I will say welcome !
>        Not everyone can build hospitals, bridges, factories, etc.
 
And what happens once the funding runs out?  As usual the nonfunctional
computers remain proudly displayed in the lab...
 
 
Sustainability is a major portiona of all of what one does...
 
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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